‘Where Is Wendy Williams?’ Producers Claim They Didn’t Know The Famed Host Was Diagnosed With Dementia

"If we had known that Wendy had dementia going into it, no one would’ve rolled a camera,” said producer Mark Ford.

Over the weekend, Wendy Williams returned to air alongside her family in an up-close and personal view of her life amid health struggles and addiction. Since the doc's release on Lifetime, questions have been raised concerning the exploitation of the talk show host and whether the doc should have happened in the first place.

In a new interview that dropped on Monday (Feb. 26), producers of "Where is Wendy Williams?" sat down with The Hollywood Reporter as they explained the hard decisions made to allow cameras to continue rolling.

5 Things We Learned From the ‘Where Is Wendy Williams?’ Docuseries

"At a certain point we were more worried about what would happen if we stopped filming than if we continued," said Mark Ford, a producer of the doc. Wendy, her son, Kevin Hunter Jr., and her jeweler-turned-manager, William Selby, are all credited as executive producers. 

"It was supposed to be a documentary that would follow her journey back into her career doing a podcast. We thought it was a great idea, and we were hopeful that Wendy’s story would be redeeming and we’d be able to document this journey, explained Ford. "But as we filmed, it became evident that this wasn’t really going to be a career comeback story, that this was going to be a deeper story, and that there was something ultimately disturbing going on in Wendy’s life."

Days before the premiere of the documentary, Wendy's guardian, Sabrina Morrissey, filed a lawsuit against Lifetime’s parent company attempting to block it from airing. But a judge dismissed the petition while citing the First Amendment. "It was a lot of drama at the end!" said producer Brie Miranda Bryant of the lawsuit. "All I can say is, it took us all by surprise. But we were relieved that our legal teams were able to come to terms and just grateful that we made it to air."

"Ultimately, it’s a First Amendment issue, added Ford. "Nobody should have the power to quash Wendy’s voice, and her family’s voice. And thankfully the courts understood that that was the most important thing, and the free press won out here."

That same week, Wendy's caretakers released a statement indicating that the talk show host had been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia and aphasia in 2023.

"But ultimately, we stuck to the truth of our journey as filmmakers. And when you watch the film, it’s almost like you’re on the journey of discovery with us. And look, our responsibility as filmmakers, one, is to make sure our subject is safe and ends up in a safe place. But beyond that, it’s the truth. We have to show the truth, even when that truth is painful to watch," said Ford.

He continued, "We never would’ve aired something that didn’t have Wendy’s best interests and her family’s best interests at heart."

Still, he asserted, "If we had known that Wendy had dementia going into it, no one would’ve rolled a camera."

While the producers said Wendy's guardian, Sabrina Morrissey, never met with them or took phone calls from their team, including Ford and Erica Hanson, she did approve of Wendy's participation in the taping of the documentary.

"It was all signed off on. She [the guardian] was communicating with Will Selby, Wendy’s manager. 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," explained Ford. "All of these things were things that had to be signed off on by the guardian throughout. So, it’s our understanding that she was very aware of everything throughout the process."

At the time of this report by the outlet, the production team alleged Wendy had not viewed the doc before it aired. "We simply have had no way to get it to her to see it. No way to screen it with her, because she’s locked down in a facility and we haven’t been able to speak to her since we wrapped filming, said Ford. "The last day that you see us filming with her is the last time we spoke to Wendy."

Although Wendy's family has not formally contested her guardianship, Ford hopes this doc will initiate movement in that area.

"Honestly, I think the film was their first step in telling this story, and getting it out there. I hope the people that instituted this guardianship will watch the film and see for themselves what Wendy’s situation was, and perhaps this is a cautionary tale moving forward about how to prevent this from happening to other people."

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