Wendy Williams’ Publicist Slams “Horrific Components” of New Documentary

Wendy Williams’ Publicist Slams New Documentary About Talk Show Host

Wendy Williams' rep is making her opinion known. 

Shawn Zanotti, who's been a publicist for the former talk show host since 2021, is slamming the new Lifetime documentary Where is Wendy Williams?, claiming the project is exploitative, especially in the wake of Williams' public aphasia and dementia diagnoses. 

"[Williams] thought we were focusing on the comeback of her career," she told NBC News in an interview published Feb. 28. "She would be mortified. There's no way you can convince me that she would be okay with looking and seeing herself in that way."

Instead of the opportunity to get Williams' "story out there," which is how Zanotti said the project was pitched to her and how she then framed it to Williams, the publicist said the end result is "not the project that [Williams] signed up for. That's not the project [the producers] brought to me."

In fact, Zanotti—who is featured in the two-part feature and on Williams' payroll but has not spoken with her since her boss entered a treatment facility in April—argued the documentary excludes many of the good moments she shared with Wendy. 

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"Although you saw those horrific components of what she did in the way that she treated me," she said, "there were great, beautiful moments that happened after that."

NBC News reached out to Lifetime for comment but did not hear back. E! News also reached out to the network as well as Williams' team for comment but has not yet heard back.

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One day after the Lifetime documentary—which offers a glimpse into Williams' private world since she retreated from the spotlight—was released, her team announced her diagnoses with primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia. The Feb. 22 statement added the conditions have impacted her communication abilities, cognitive functions and have "already presented significant hurdles in Wendy's life."

Zanotti's feelings about the documentary have been echoed by users on social media, with one writing on X, formerly known as Twitter, "I hope that Wendy Williams gets the help she needs and maybe this show will help with that but something about this isn't sitting right with me. She can't consent to being on camera like this. It feels exploitative."

In an interview with Today.com, the filmmakers behind the Lifetime project Mark Ford and Erica Hanson defended their documentary, explaining at the time they were unaware of Williams' diagnoses. 

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"We didn't know that she had dementia," Hanson explained. "We didn't know that it was confusing at times. Some days, Wendy was on and very Wendy. Other days, she wasn't. We all felt this was a complex and sensitive story to tell, and we all felt a great responsibility to do it with dignity and sensitivity."

For her part, Zanotti doesn't feel their knowing would have made a difference. 

"The producers would ask questions where she would somewhat seem confused, and I feel as though it was done to be intentional at that moment in time to make their storyline," she said. "Again, this was presented as a documentary to her, but to me, it looked as though it was a reality show of a circus, a circus to her downfall."

Wendy Williams’ Publicist Slams “Horrific Components” of New Documentary

(E! and NBC News are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)

Keep reading to look back at Williams throughout her career. 

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