Wendy Williams' Guardian's Lawsuit Unsealed, Claims Lifetime Doc 'Shamelessly Exploits' Star amid Health Troubles

Williams' guardian, Sabrina Morrissey, claimed that Lifetime failed to get approval to air privately filmed footage and that the documentary would "unconscionably" exploit the star for perceived "entertainment value"

<p>Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Spotify</p> Wendy Williams in February 2020

Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Spotify

Wendy Williams in February 2020

Wendy Williams' court-appointed guardian, Sabrina Morrissey, is calling out Lifetime parent company A&E and its docuseries Where Is Wendy Williams? for "shamelessly" exploiting the star amid her challenges.

After seeing the trailer for the docuseries, Morrissey filed the lawsuit on Feb. 20 in an attempt to block the 4.5-hour project from being aired. The lawsuit was unsealed and obtained by PEOPLE on Thursday. In the papers, Morrissey slams the network's documentary, claiming that it "shamelessly exploits [Williams] and portrays her in an extremely demeaning and undignified manner."

Morrissey also alleges that Lifetime "incorrectly states that she is 'broke' and cruelly implies that her disoriented demeanor is due to substance abuse and intoxication."

The documents further claim that Williams was "not capable of consenting" to the terms of her contract with A&E Television Networks, Lifetime's parent company. 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.

<p>Calvin Gayle</p> Wendy Williams

Calvin Gayle

Wendy Williams

Related: Where Is Wendy Williams? Shocking Doc Reveals Star's Struggles with Money Woes, Health Issues and Alcohol

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

Morrissey stated that she allowed the doc to go forward with 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." However, she claims that no permissions were sought and she was "horrified" upon viewing the contents of the trailer after 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 reads.

<p>Fox</p> Wendy Williams on 'The Wendy Williams Show'


Wendy Williams on 'The Wendy Williams Show'

Related: Where Is Wendy Williams? Producers Say They Continued Filming Star amid Her Struggles 'Out of Concern' (Exclusive)

In a statement shared with PEOPLE on Thursday, Lifetime responded to Morrissey's allegations, noting, "We look forward to the unsealing of our papers as well, as they tell a very different story."

At the time of filing, Morrissey requested the court to put a temporary restraining order on the documentary which was granted but eventually overturned by a superior court.

Filmed between August 2022 and April 2023, Lifetime's Where Is Wendy Williams? captured a dark period in the former host's life as she spiraled following the cancellation of her synonymous talk show due to alcohol addiction and several health issues, including Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder that can cause bulging eyes, and lymphedema, a condition that causes swelling in her feet.

The docuseries premiered on the network on Feb. 24 with the second installment of episodes airing the next day.

<p>Santiago Felipe/Getty</p> Wendy Williams

Santiago Felipe/Getty

Wendy Williams

Related: The Biggest Bombshells from Lifetime's Where Is Wendy Williams? Documentary Currently Under Litigation

Two days ahead of its release and the same day Morrissey filed the lawsuit, Williams' care team revealed the 59-year-old television personality had been diagnosed with progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia (FTD).

According to a press release, Williams received her diagnosis last year and her medical team said the conditions “have already presented significant hurdles in Wendy's life.”

“Wendy is still able to do many things for herself,” the team said in a statement. “Most importantly she maintains her trademark sense of humor and is receiving the care she requires to make sure she is protected and that her needs are addressed. She is appreciative of the many kind thoughts and good wishes being sent her way.”

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Though Morrissey claimed she was unaware of the docuseries' nature, Mark Ford, the executive producer of the documentary, told PEOPLE for last month's cover story that "Wendy's attorneys and the guardianship attorneys were consulted and signed off on" the project.

"The film was signed off on by Wendy, her management, her attorneys, the guardianship," he explained. "They were aware of the filming all the way through. So, we did go by the book and get all the permissions that we needed to get. We went into this film thinking it was one thing, and the truth turned out to be another. Once we started seeing the truth of the situation, we couldn't ignore it. And the film had to go in the direction of the truth."

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