Undisclosed Wendy Williams Doc Lawsuit: A+E Networks Exploited Williams

Newly unsealed court filings in Wendy Williams' lawsuit against Lifetime's parent company A+E Networks over the release of… Where is Wendy Williams? The documentary chronicling her mental and physical decline appears to show that the company filmed the film without obtaining consent from the former talk show host's court-appointed guardian. The project documented Williams' life for the better part of a year, showing her decline as she struggled with family, fame, and excessive alcohol consumption.

The complaint, unsealed Thursday, alleges that the contract A+E Networks had to film the documentary was invalid because Williams did not have the legal or mental capacity to be allowed to participate in the film at the time. She was allegedly told that the film would be “positive and beneficial” for her image. It remains unknown who created the company that entered into a contract with the network to allow Williams to appear in the film.

“This blatant exploitation of a vulnerable woman with a serious medical condition who is loved by millions inside and outside the African American community is disgusting, and cannot be tolerated,” the complaint reads.

The controversial 4-and-a-half-hour documentary, which contains footage from nearly seven months of Williams' tumultuous past few years until she entered a health facility for cognitive issues last year, aired as planned to great ratings, with It averaged just over one million viewers broadcast over two nights on February 24 and 25. Lifetime magazine said it was the biggest non-fiction debut in two years. Williams, her son Kevin Hunter Jr., and jeweler-turned-manager William Selby are credited as executive producers.

The legal battle stems from Sabrina Morrissey, acting as Williams' temporary conservator, filing a lawsuit last month in New York County Supreme Court against A+E Networks to block the release of the documentary. She requested a temporary restraining order, which was granted before a higher court overturned it.

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Appeals Judge Peter Moulton found that preventing the company from broadcasting the documentary would amount to “an impermissible prior restraint on expression that violates the First Amendment.” Because the case remained closed, Morrissey's arguments for preventing the network from broadcasting the title remained unknown.

Morrissey declined to comment, citing court orders prohibiting contact with the press. A+E Networks did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to the unsealed complaint, the documentary footage was filmed under a contract signed in January 2023. However, the lawsuit says Williams lacked the capacity to enter into the agreement. Referring to the court-appointed conservatorship under which Williams was placed in 2022, Morrissey claims the former talk show host was “unable to manage her business and personal affairs and, indeed, has been placed in conservatorship and under the supervision of this court.” “

William Selby, as Williams' manager for the project, made assurances to Morrissey that he would have final creative control over the final cut and that he would portray Williams in a positive light, “like a phoenix rising from the ashes” after her television run. The show was canceled due to her health condition based on the complaint. Based on these representations, Morrissey allowed the project to continue, with the understanding that nothing would be released without her consent and that of the court.

Instead, a trailer for the documentary was released without notice, Morrissey says.

“The Guardian was horrified by the publication of the trailer and its contents, which falsely portrayed WWH’s conduct and conduct as the result of intoxication rather than the result of her medical condition, which was diagnosed by doctors at Weill Cornell,” the complaint states. “Selby told The Guardian that he was also surprised by the February 2, 2024 release, and that he had not reviewed or approved the trailer or documentary before the trailer was released.”

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According to the complaint, it is not clear who authorized the creation of The Wendy Experience, which had a contract with Entertainment One to allow Williams to be depicted in the documentary. The company was allegedly founded after Williams was placed under conservatorship. Morrissey was not involved in its creation and did not learn of the agreement until months after it was signed, according to court filings.

“The contract appears to have been signed on January 25, 2023 by the CEO of Wendy Experience, Inc,” the complaint states. “The name in the signature is not clearly legible; however, it is highly distinguishable from the WWH signature.

The agreement allegedly included provisions in which Williams waived all doctor-patient privileges in connection with the filming of the documentary.

The documentary was originally conceived as a behind-the-scenes look exploring Williams' return via a new podcast. The filmmakers, who began following her in late August 2022, centered the project on her health.

Days before the documentary aired, Williams shared that she had been diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia. She had already been diagnosed with Graves' disease and lymphedema, a buildup of fluid in the body's soft tissues. Besides her alcoholism, her illnesses are chronicled in the film.

Where is Wendy Williams? said producer Mark Ford Hollywood Reporter “If we knew Wendy had dementia, no one would have taken a camera.” He added: “At a certain point we were more worried about what would happen if we stopped filming than if we continued.”

When asked if he had met Morrissey, executive producer Erica Hanson replied, “No, no, no. She won't return my calls.” “There were many attempts before and during this,” Ford added. Honestly, we either had a terse call or a very short and unpleasant exchange. He stressed that “everything has been signed.”

“she [the guardian] “He was communicating with Will Selby, the manager of Wendy's,” Ford explained. “Will was the point of contact for the conservator throughout the process and he had to go to her to sign documents, get site agreements, book her out-of-state travel. All of those things were things that the conservator had to sign all the time. So, we understand that she was very aware of everything Something throughout the process.”

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In 2022, Williams was placed under financial conservatorship after Wells Fargo claimed she was a “helpless person” and a “victim of undue influence and financial exploitation.” She objected to the appointment of a guardian, saying that her health had improved and that she was “completely well” after receiving treatment for Graves' disease and thyroid problems. The documentary revealed that the accusations of financial abuse from the bank stemmed from purchases made by her son, Kevin Hunter Jr., while his mother was in his family's care in 2021 until she returned to New York for court proceedings regarding her conservatorship.

“My mother got me a power of attorney, because the banks, at that time, were starting to accuse the family of doing things that weren’t right, and saying that my mother wasn’t qualified to make choices,” he says in the film. “The court tried to frame it as if I brought all these charges for my own pleasure.”

It remains unknown whether any of Williams' family members have petitioned the court to appoint her as her guardian. In Part 4 of the documentary, Williams' sister Wanda indicated that she was ready to do so. “I was asked, ‘Would I consider being a trustee?’ and I said, ‘I don’t know what being a trustee entails,’” she told the producers. “I was told it would involve taking a class, so I said, ‘Yes, I will do that.’” “Whatever I have to do, I'll focus on Wendy's health,” I said. Suddenly the wall fell and there was nothing.”

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