Producers Say They Would Have Axed Wendy Williams Doc If They Knew She Had Dementia

Two producers behind the docuseries say it was originally meant to chronicle Williams' comeback before things took a dark turn.

Wendy Williams in a black outfit at the NYWIFT event, smiling
Lars Niki / Getty Images for New York Women in Film & Television
Wendy Williams in a black outfit at the NYWIFT event, smiling

A producer behind Wendy Williams’ latest documentary says they never would have filmed her had they known of her dementia diagnosis.

In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, producer Mark Ford and executive producer Erica Hanson discussed the challenging process of filming Where Is Wendy Williams? over the course of a year. 

The doc, which premiered on Lifetime on Feb. 24, was originally meant to document the former talk show host’s career comeback. However, the film took a turn as it revealed haunting new details of Williams’ life, including her struggles with alcohol and cognitive issues.

“At a certain point, we were more worried about what would happen if we stopped filming than if we continued,” Ford told THR.

Ford added, “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. 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.”

“You just follow your instinct, and it was a sensitive, complex situation of what felt right and what felt wrong. And then there were times where Wendy made it clear when she was done for the day,” said Hanson, recalling clear instances where it was no longer appropriate to keep filming. “But we were constantly struggling with that, because there were moments that were painful and very emotional. And I’d also point out that a lot of people on our little team had been touched in their own worlds by dementia and addiction, so everyone from the field to post had this deep sense of caring and a great sense of moral responsibility. And there were times where we really felt like if we stopped, what would happen? Would she just continue? And would she fall down the stairs?”

Two days prior to the documentary’s air date, Williams’ team confirmed in a press release that she had been diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia, per a report from Variety.

“Over the past few years, questions have been raised at times about Wendy’s ability to process information and many have speculated about Wendy’s condition, particularly when she began to lose words, act erratically at times, and have difficulty understanding financial transactions,” wrote Williams’ team in a press release.

“We tried to be as transparent as possible, and the making of the film is as much a story in some ways as Wendy’s story itself. And that’s why we intentionally left a lot of the questions in — we wanted people to understand the journey of the filmmakers and how upsetting it was for all of us in certain instances and also how outrageous in some ways the situations were,” said Ford. “Like, Wendy would be left alone without food, completely on her own in that apartment with stairs that she could easily fall down. There was no one there 24/7. So, these are just all the questions we had throughout. But, of course, if we had known that Wendy had dementia going into it, no one would’ve rolled a camera.”

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