Wendy Williams' Guardian's Unsealed Lawsuit Against A+E Networks Claims Lifetime Doc Exploited Her

In a recently unsealed court filing, Wendy Williams' guardian alleged she 'lacked capacity' when agreeing to film the Lifetime doc.

It's been almost three weeks since Lifetime aired its controversial documentary, Where Is Wendy Williams?, and more information is coming out about the lawsuit filed by Wendy Williams' temporary guardian attempting to block the 4.5-hour project from being aired.

In the complaint filed on Feb. 20, which was unsealed and obtained by ET, Sabrina Morrissey claims Lifetime's parent company, A&E Television Networks, and its docuseries "shamelessly exploits [Williams] and portrays her in an extremely demeaning and undignified manner."

Morrissey alleges Williams "was not, and is not, capable of consenting to the terms" of the contract for filming the documentary. On Feb. 22, Williams' care team revealed that she was diagnosed in 2023 with primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia.

The lawsuit states, "As a result of her medical condition, (Williams) lacked capacity when the Contract was purportedly executed, and she remains in that condition."

Per Morrissey, court and guardian approval was needed for all contracts before a documentary with privately-shot footage of the talk show host could be publicly released. 

Despite this, the lawsuit claims that "no such approval was sought or provided."

Morrissey alleges in the complaint that she allowed the docuseries to go forward with the understanding that the project would not proceed without the "review and final approval of the Guardian and the court, who are responsible for [Williams'] wellbeing." But she claims that no permissions were sought and that she was "horrified" after the trailer's release because she was told the documentary would portray Williams in a positive light.

"It is readily apparent that the complete promised documentary would even further portray [Williams] in a humiliating and demeaning manner," the lawsuit reads, adding that the documentary would "unconscionably" exploit the television personality's condition and disclose her personal and private medical diagnosis for perceived "entertainment value" and "interest" of viewers.

"This blatant exploitation of a vulnerable woman with a serious medical condition who is beloved by millions within and outside of African American community is disgusting, and it cannot be allowed," the document continues.

Even though she's listed as an executive producer on the documentary, the lawsuit alleges Williams "was, at all relevant times, incapable of managing her own business and personal affairs, and indeed, was placed into a guardianship and under the supervision of this court." Williams "did not, and could not, approve the manner in which she was filmed and portrayed in the Trailer and documentary," according to the complaint.

Getty Images

At the time of filing, Morrissey requested the court issue a temporary restraining order on the documentary, which was granted but eventually overturned by a superior court. Appellate Justice Peter H. Moulton found that stopping the company from airing the documentary would be an "impermissible prior restraint on speech that violates the First Amendment of the Constitution."  

In a statement shared with ET on Thursday, a spokesperson for A+E Networks/Lifetime responded to Morrissey's allegations, saying, "We look forward to the unsealing of our papers as well, as they tell a very different story."

Days after Williams' care team revealed her diagnosis, the former talk show host herself released a statement to ET, which read, "I want to say I have immense gratitude for the love and kind words I have received after sharing my diagnosis of Aphasia and Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)."

"Let me say, wow!  Your response has been overwhelming. The messages shared with me have touched me, reminding me of the power of unity and the need for compassion," the statement continued. "I hope that others with FTD may benefit from my story."

Williams' statement concluded, "I want to also thank the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration for their kind words of support and their extraordinary efforts to raise awareness of FTD. I continue to need personal space and peace to thrive.  Please just know that your positivity and encouragement are deeply appreciated."

Where is Wendy Williams?, a four-and-a-half-hour, two-night documentary event, aired Saturday, Feb. 24 and Feb. 25 on Lifetime.