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Wendy Williams’ publicist slams documentary, says it ‘exploits’ TV star

By 37ci3 Feb28,2024



Former daytime talk show host Wendy Williams is in the spotlight explosive documentary some critics call exploitative.

In the new two-part Lifetime documentary “Where is Wendy Williams,” the former host often appears disoriented and doesn’t recognize her manager in one clip. In another scene, the same manager confronts him about empty liquor bottles found in his apartment.

One of those people, Shawn Zanotti, who appeared in the documentary series, criticized the producers in an exclusive interview with NBC News.

“I felt it [Williams] Zanotti, who began working as Williams’ publicist in 2021, said: “She thought we were focusing on getting her career back on track. … He would be hurt. You will not be able to convince me that it would be good for him to see and see himself in this way.”

Zanotti said he first pitched the project in 2022 to Creature Films and eOne Television. The same production company is behind another Lifetime documentary on the host’s life, Wendy Williams: What a Mess!

“When I record [doing a documentary] He immediately told Wendy, ‘Yes, I’d like to do that. I would really like to be able to get my story there,” said Zanotti.

However, the broadcast did not say that Zanotti was agreed.

“This is not a project [Williams] registered for This is not a project [the producers] brought to me. I didn’t tell him it was going to be about that,” Zanotti said.

“There were very good moments. None of these happy moments were shown,” he added.

The day before the documentary aired, Williams’ management team announced that she was in a treatment facility. an initial progressive diagnosis was made aphase and frontotemporal dementia. Zanotti, who has not spoken to Williams since entering a treatment facility in April, said he still works as a publicist.

Tune in to Top Story with Tom Llamas on NBC News Now Wednesday night for the full interview.

one TODAY.com interviewthe filmmakers said they were unaware of Williams’ diagnosis during production, but admitted that “Some days it was Wendy and a lot of Wendy. Other days it wasn’t.”

They moved forward with the project because, according to showrunner Erica Hanson, “We all felt it was a complex and sensitive story, and we all felt a great responsibility to do it with dignity and sensitivity.”

But Zanotti isn’t buying it.

“I don’t think so [the diagnosis] would definitely stop them. The producers were asking questions the whole time — he was asking questions where he looked a little confused, and I think that was done on purpose at that point to create his own storyline,” Zanotti said. It was presented to him as a documentary, but I felt like , it was the reality show of the circus, the circus that brought it down.”

The producers and Lifetime did not respond to requests for further comment.

Zanotti said he even raised his concerns with Williams’ guardian Sabrina Morrissey during production.

“I didn’t agree with what happened in this documentary,” he said. “I made this clear to the guardian. The production company was aware of this. I didn’t – I didn’t agree with the way it moved and vibrated. And instead of dealing with me, they decided to ignore me. From that moment on, they ignored me and I never heard from them again.”

Morrissey did not respond to requests for comment.

On the same day Williams’ dementia diagnosis was announced, Morrissey filed a now-sealed lawsuit to prevent the series from airing. The judge dismissed the case citing the First Amendment.

“Wendy was also his guardian, his manager, his partner, as were all of our attorneys — everyone signed on and was aware of all the roads we were taking,” Mark Ford, executive producer of the documentaries, told TODAY.com.

However, Zanotti said he believed the series was about creating a spectacle for money and ratings, not to show Williams at her best.

Zanotti said she felt she was misrepresented in the series, except for one scene in which Williams abuses her on the couch.

“Even though you saw the horrible components of his treatment of me, there were some wonderful, wonderful moments after that,” Zanotti said.

Speculation about Williams’ health began in 2017 after she fainted during a live broadcast.

Williams, who hosted “The Wendy Williams Show” from 2008-2021, has been open about her battle with addiction.

In 2019, she told viewers she was living in a sober home after seeking treatment for drug abuse. Months later, he announced that he was taking time off due to Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disease.

Williams was also absent from his show in 2021 and 2022 due to health issues. Variety reported. Sherri Shepherd took over the time slot in 2022, before “The Wendy Williams Show” was finally canceled.

While Williams was off the air, his bank, Wells Fargo, filed a motion to transfer him to financial guardianshipClaiming that she was “unacceptable” and a “victim of undue influence and financial exploitation”, Williams later claimed she retracted.

Since then, Williams has fallen out of the public eye, and Zanotti said he doesn’t want fans of the series to remember him.

“This is not the project he signed up for,” Zanotti said. “My concern at this point is: What is really going on? Who really has your best interest at heart?”



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