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Who Is Shawn Zanotti? Wendy Williams' Publicist Defends Herself After Controversial Doc

Shortly before the premiere of the Lifetime docuseries, "Where is Wendy Williams?" it was reported that the former talk show host had been diagnosed with dementia and aphasia. The show itself further delved into the recent turbulence of Williams' life, including her struggles with alcoholism. It's a heart-wrenching portrayal of the daytime star, who's been absent from the limelight since her show ended in 2022. ("The Wendy Williams Show" was a ratings powerhouse for daytime TV; Williams' shock jock style of hosting was known throughout pop culture, leading to an endless row of parodies, like in Tom Brady's Hertz commercial.)

One person who's making out extremely poorly in the aftermath of the docuseries is publicist Shawn Zanotti, who began working with Williams in 2022. After the docuseries aired, many viewers took to social media, believing Zanotti was complicit in exacerbating Williams' issues with alcohol. On X, formerly known as Twitter, one such comment reads: "So... Shawn Zanotti thought it was a bright idea to take [Williams] to get a drink... [and] thought it was even smarter to get Wendy who was presently cognitively deteriorating to meet with NBC." Others have torn into her even further, leading to Zanotti speaking with People to offer her perspective on her relationship with Williams and involvement with the documentary.

More than anything, Zanotti regrets being part of such a project, claiming that she initially believed the series would offer a more positive outlook on Williams and her career. "I would never let Wendy put her name and brand on the line like that ever," she explained. "She's an icon. It's not the story we signed up for and I feel lied to." Zanotti continues that she hasn't spoken with Williams since April 2023, which is around the time filming on the docuseries would've concluded.

Shawn Zanotti asserts she didn't know Wendy Williams had issues with alcohol

Zanotti remains adamant how she couldn't keep tabs on Williams at all times since she lived in another city and insisted to People that she only ever wanted to help Williams. "I didn't make any money off her at all," she asserted. "The whole time I've known her, I've fed her, helped, advised her, and worked for her endless hours a day for free. So, that's why I was so hurt and offended when I saw what her family was saying in that documentary about me."

As far as allowing Williams to have alcohol when she was with her, Zanotti elaborated, "It's also clear that she probably didn't need a drink after looking at how everything played out. But no, no one ever told me she couldn't drink, and she only had those few sips around me." She also claims to have been unaware of Williams having any cognitive issues. Finally, Zanotti had this to say: "I just regret ever being a part of the documentary or getting Wendy involved."

For those interested in reliving some of Williams' most iconic moments as a daytime talk show host, be sure to check out the time she interviewed Halle Berry about one of the grossest things she had to do to prepare for a role.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).