Wendy Williams' guardian tried to block doc to avoid criticism, A&E alleges

A&E Television Networks pushed back against Wendy Williams' temporary guardian in court last month, arguing she moved to block "Where Is Wendy Williams?" from airing to "silence" criticism, according to newly unsealed documents.

Sabrina Morrissey, Williams' temporary guardian, filed a lawsuit against A&E in New York County Supreme Court in February, seeking to stop Lifetime's documentary "Where Is Wendy Williams?" from airing. But in court documents that were recently unsealed and obtained by USA TODAY, Rachel Strom, an attorney for A&E Networks, argued Morrissey tried to shut down the documentary only after seeing the way Williams' guardianship was depicted in the trailer.

"Only after seeing the documentary's trailer and realizing her role in Ms. (Williams') life may be criticized did Ms. Morrissey enlist the courts to unconstitutionally silence that criticism," the filing alleged.

Wendy Williams' declining health was depicted in a Lifetime documentary that aired in February.
Wendy Williams' declining health was depicted in a Lifetime documentary that aired in February.

USA TODAY has reached out to an attorney for Morrissey for comment.

In a complaint unsealed earlier this month, Morrissey sought a restraining order against the network, alleging that Williams, who in February announced she was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, "was not, and is not, capable of consenting to the terms" of the contract for the documentary.

'Where Is Wendy Williams?': The biggest bombshells from Lifetime's documentary

Williams "did not, and could not, approve the manner in which she was filmed and portrayed in the trailer and documentary," the suit said, alleging the documentary "exploits (Williams') medical condition to portray her in a humiliating, degrading manner and in a false light." The filing also stated that Morrissey was "horrified by the release of the trailer and its contents, which falsely depict (Williams') behavior and demeanor as being the result of intoxication rather than the result of her medical condition."

In its filing, though, A&E's attorney argued Morrissey "took no measures to prevent the documentary's release until she saw the trailer, in which she and the guardianship system appear in a negative light," which "demonstrates that her purpose in seeking this prior restraint is simply to shut down public expression that she does not like."

Wendy Williams 'lacked capacity' when she agreed to film Lifetime doc, unsealed filings say

The filing also stated that if Morrissey was "so worried" about Williams being filmed for the documentary, she had "months and months" to intervene. The fact that she did not do so, and "did nothing for nearly a year," is "contrary to the supposed need for emergency relief," A&E argued.

Lifetime, which is owned by A&E Networks, proceeded with airing "Where Is Wendy Williams?" on Feb. 24 and Feb. 25 after an appellate judge said blocking it from airing would be an "impermissible prior restraint on speech" in violation of the First Amendment.

Williams was placed under a financial guardianship in 2022 after Wells Fargo alleged she was "incapacitated." Throughout the Lifetime documentary, Williams' family was critical of the guardianship system, arguing her court-appointed guardian is not taking good care of her and that a family member should serve in that role.

Contributing: KiMi Robinson and Taijuan Moorman, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Wendy Williams' guardian tried to block doc to avoid flak, A&E says