Wendy Williams' publicist slams Lifetime documentary, says talk show host 'would be mortified'

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How is Wendy Williams doin'? It depends on who you ask.

A new Lifetime documentary "Where is Wendy Williams?" which premiered over the weekend, is casting doubt on Williams' care during filming as producers and members of Williams' camp place blame on one another.

Author Shawn Zanotti, who became Williams' publicist in 2021, slammed the documentary's producers in an interview with NBC News entertainment correspondent Chloe Melas published Wednesday.

"I felt that (Williams) was being exploited," Zanotti told NBC News. "She thought we were focusing on the comeback of her career. ... She would be mortified. There's no way you can convince me that she would be OK with looking and seeing herself in that way."

Wendy Williams is the subject of a controversial new Lifetime documentary "Where is Wendy Williams?" that traces the daytime talk show legend's life after her long-running TV show was cancelled.
Wendy Williams is the subject of a controversial new Lifetime documentary "Where is Wendy Williams?" that traces the daytime talk show legend's life after her long-running TV show was cancelled.

'That is not the project' Wendy Williams signed up for, Shawn Zanotti claims

Zanotti told NBC News that in 2022, she was first pitched a follow-up to "Wendy Williams: What a Mess!", another Lifetime documentary full of revelations including her life after splitting from ex-husband Kevin Hunter Sr.

Zanotti told NBC News she still works for Williams. However, her employment status remains unclear.

The same production company that brought viewers "What a Mess!" produced the recent "Where is Wendy Williams?" but Zanotti says the project shifted amid Williams' publicized health struggles in recent years.

Talk show host Wendy Williams diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia and aphasia

"That is not the project that (Williams) signed up for. That's not the project (the producers) brought to me. That's not what I told her this was going to be about," Zanotti said.

"There were a lot of good moments. None of those good moments were shown," she continued. But producers of the Lifetime documentary disputed these types of critiques, like ones from Zanotti, in recent days.

Producer of 'Where is Wendy Williams?' says they were close with talk show host

In a Monday interview with The Hollywood Reporter, "Where is Wendy Williams?" producers pushed back on critics of the documentary.

"There was no guarantee we would air this documentary if we weren’t happy with the content that we ultimately got and the editorial direction that we landed upon, which was the family’s point of view and illustrating what can happen when one of your family members is put into a guardianship outside of your control," producer Mark Ford said.

Ford added that Williams became "very close" with the film's producers and there was a "real emotional connection that the project gave her" while noting that the guardian had earlier involvement in the film.

"Will was the point of contact with the guardian throughout the process and he would have to go to her to get documents signed, to get location agreements, to book her travel out of state," Ford said. "All of these things were things that had to be signed off on by the guardian throughout."

'Where is Wendy Williams?' documentary premieres after lawsuit to halt its release

The two-part documentary arrived on the heels of Williams' frontotemporal dementia and aphasia announcement on Thursday. That same day, Williams' temporary guardian, Sabrina Morrissey, filed a lawsuit under seal against Lifetime in a New York state court, USA TODAY confirmed.

The case says Morrissey is "acting in her capacity as Temporary Guardian of W.W.H." with the initials presumably for Wendy Williams Hunter, the 59-year-old host's legal name from her marriage to ex-husband Kevin Hunter.

The next day, a New York appellate judge ruled that Lifetime may go forward with releasing its documentary about Williams despite the lawsuit filed against A&E Television Networks in an attempt to halt its premiere. The order says a ruling would be an "impermissible prior restraint on speech that violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution."

What to know: Wendy Williams, like Bruce Willis, has aphasia, frontotemporal dementia

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Wendy Williams' publicist Shawn Zanotti slams Lifetime documentary