Wendy Williams’ Publicist Blasts Lifetime Documentary, Says TV Star Would Be ‘Mortified’

Shawn Zanotti and Wendy Williams (Credit: Lifetime)

Wendy Williams’ publicist, Shawn Zanotti, has taken aim at Where is Wendy Williams?, saying the controversial Lifetime documentary is not what Williams’ or her reps expected.

Zanotti appears throughout the two-part film, but says the completed project “exploits” the TV star, who has been diagnosed with dementia.

In an interview with NBC News, published on Feb. 28, Zanotti admits playing a role in securing the documentary deal, but insists the finished product is not what was pitched to Williams or her team.

“She thought we were focusing on the comeback of her career,” Zanotti says. “She would be mortified. There’s no way you can convince me that she would be OK with looking and seeing herself in that way.”

Related StoryWendy Williams Spends Her Days in Bed, Drinking Vodka, Lifetime Documentary Reveals

Zanotti began working for Williams in 2021.

The publicist tells NBC she was pitched the idea for a documentary in 2022 by Creature Films and eOne Television, the same producers behind the authorized 2021 Lifetime documentary, Wendy Williams: What a Mess!

“When I mentioned [doing a documentary] to Wendy, she immediately said, ‘Yes, I would love to do it. I would love to be able to get my story out there,’” Zanotti explains.

Once filming got underway, the publicist says she expressed concerns to Williams’ court-appointed guardian, Sabrina Morrissey.

“I did not agree with what was going on with this documentary,” Zanotti claims. “I made it very clear to the guardian. The production company was aware of that. I didn’t — I didn’t agree with the way this was moving and shaking. And instead of them dealing with it with me, they decided to ignore me. They ignored me from that moment, and I never heard from them again.”

Two days before the film premiered, Williams’ “care team” issued a press release, saying she was officially diagnosed in 2023 with primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia.

The documentary debuted on Saturday, Feb. 24, two days after Morrissey unsuccessfully filed a lawsuit against Lifetime’s parent company in an effort to prevent the film from airing.

The movie shows Williams, 59, spending her days in bed, drinking vodka, and insulting her staff.

In one scene, she calls Zanotti a “dumbass” and tells the publicist she needs liposuction.

“Although you saw those horrific components of what she did in the way that she treated me… there were great, beautiful moments that happened after that,” Zanotti tells NBC.

Williams suffers from memory loss and mood swings throughout the film. She forgets details about her life, struggles to remember what city she’s in, and doesn’t recognize her brother when she visits her family.

The radio legend also has Graves’ disease, thyroid disease, and lymphedema, which has caused her feet to become disfigured.

Despite her deteriorating health, Zanotti and Williams’ jeweler-turned-manager, Will Selby, are shown setting up meetings about a potential podcast deal and a new TV show, following the cancellation of The Wendy Williams Show in 2022.

In the final episode of the documentary, Zanotti flies Williams to Los Angeles for a meeting with NBC about a new show. Williams’ manager Will and her guardian are unaware of the trip. When Will gets Zanotti on the phone, he demands she bring Williams back to New York City immediately.

Zanotti and Williams go out for lunch and the TV star is allowed to drink cocktails, even though her family and manager have said she should never consume alcohol because of addiction issues.

As they’re driving around L.A., Zanotti tells Williams the Oscars are days away.

“Wendy, you wanna go to the Oscars?” Zanotti asks.

“What’s Oscars?” a confused Williams replies.

Despite Williams’ mental health struggles, Zanotti proceeds with the NBC meeting, but text on screen says a deal never materialized.

After facing criticism for the way Williams is shown in the doc, the filmmakers told Today.com they were unaware during production that Williams had been diagnosed with dementia, although they admitted, “Some days, Wendy was on and very Wendy. Other days, she wasn’t.”

Zanotti says the production team is not being honest.

“I don’t think [the diagnosis] would have stopped them at all. The producers were asking questions throughout the entire time — 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,” Zanotti says.

In the film, text on screen notes that filming began in August 2022. Lifetime says the project was initially intended to document Williams’ “comeback” and the launch of her podcast, but the focus changed when the crew filmed her struggling in her daily life.

Williams’ older sister Wanda Finnie, the star’s niece Alex Finnie, her nephew Travis Finnie, and her son Kevin Hunter Jr. all appear in the documentary.

Williams’ son reveals he took his mom in for medical testing in 2021, and she was diagnosed with alcohol-induced dementia.

The docuseries also sheds light on Wells Fargo’s petition to a New York court in 2022, to have Williams placed under guardianship amid concerns that she was “the victim of undue influence and financial exploitation.”

Williams’ sister says the guardianship is up for review this year and she’s hopeful the family will be granted permission to care for the TV star.

As for Zanotti, this morning RadarOnline reported Williams is “no longer working” with the publicist, or her manager Will Selby.

Watch a clip about “fake” people in Williams’ life below.