Wendy Williams’ unraveling blamed on allegedly abusive husband
On Dec. 20, a jittery Wendy Williams appeared on her daytime TV talk show, slurring and repeating words. Later that day, she apologized on Instagram, blaming pain medication for a fractured shoulder and Graves’ disease for her “less than stellar” performance. She promised a “better Wendy in 2019.”
She hasn’t been seen on-air since.
Sources close to the host tell The Post that Williams has been acting erratically at work for the last few years — with behavior worsening in recent months.
A frequent guest told The Post that, while on the show last year, “Producers . . . told me, ‘You carry the segment’ ” — implying that Wendy couldn’t do so on her own. Williams was “a little out of sorts,” said the frequent guest.
Last week, Radar Online published photos of the host in South Florida. Her team says, she’s in long-term hospitalization for a fractured shoulder and complications from Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid. But sources say that the queen of spilling tea has been hiding pitchers’ worth of her own secrets for more than a decade — including emotional and, in the past, even physical abuse by her husband and manager, Kevin Hunter.
(A representative for Williams and Hunter declined to respond to requests for comment on the accounts from these sources.)
Employees of Williams’ TV show have long worried about their boss and her unusual behavior, which they say began to increase around the 2014/2015 season.
One former TV-show producer, who worked on the program at that time and later, said Thursdays were particularly worrisome.
“On those days we would tape one show live, and then there’d be a break and we would tape another show to air on Friday,” the former TV producer said. “Sometimes [Wendy] would be in her dressing room, doing whatever she does between shows, and her behavior for the second show would seem erratic. It started happening more and more frequently . . . trailing off mid-sentence, not finishing her thoughts.”
Added a longtime staffer: “There were times when you would be briefing her . . . and you would say, ‘What’s going on with her? She’s not present.’ ”
Williams raised fans’ eyebrows when she fainted during a 2017 Halloween show, blaming it on dehydration and a hot Statue of Liberty costume. Last February, the host announced she was taking a three-week hiatus from the show due to her Graves’ disease and issues with hyperthyroidism.
Not everyone is buying 54-year-old Williams’ excuses, however.
The talk-show host has been candid about a decade-long cocaine addiction during her 20s and 30s. In July 2018, Williams told “Entertainment Tonight” that it’s a “miracle” she’s sober now. But demons still seemed to haunt her into her 40s and 50s.
“Wendy does everything really hard,” said a former employee of Williams’ national radio show, “The Wendy Williams Experience,” which aired from 2002 to 2009. Referring to Williams’ radio days, the source said, “If she’s drinking, it’s bottles and bottles.”
A former intern at “The Wendy Williams Experience” said part of his duties in 2008 included buying the host bottles of Champagne and wine, which he had to sneak into the studio with a corkscrew in his back pocket so that Hunter, 47, wouldn’t know his wife was drinking.
According to sources from the radio show, Williams feared her husband’s wrath.
“She would hide in the bathroom and tell me to knock on the door when he left the office so she wouldn’t have to see him,” said the intern, who added that it was common for Hunter
to pull Williams into a private room and for staff to hear them fighting.
“You’d hear slaps or some type of tussling going on,” said the intern.
The same source also recalls Hunter blowing up at a group of interns in 2008 for failing to successfully run an errand for him.
“[Hunter] started screaming at all the interns and said, ‘Everybody’s fired, everybody go home,’” recalled the former intern.
“I [went] to Wendy and I said, ‘Your husband just told me to go home,’ and she said, ‘Well, it is what it is.’ ”
The intern said he was offered his job back the next day, but declined.
Hunter’s temper, according to sources, could turn violent. One night, around 2007, an associate witnessed Hunter acting aggressively toward Williams at a nightclub.
When the couple left the club, Hunter hit Williams in the back seat of the car, according to a former friend who was with them. The blow to Williams’ mouth was so severe, “there was blood everywhere.”
When they got to a Midtown parking garage, “Hunter grabbed [Williams] and pulled her into the bathroom,” said the former friend. “The parking attendant called the police.” No charges were filed.
Nicole Spence, who worked on “The Wendy Williams Experience” from 2004 to 2008, made allegations of abusive behavior by Hunter in a June 2008 lawsuit against him and Williams. The complaint claimed Hunter sexually harassed Spence and created a “hostile work environment,” and alleged that Spence witnessed Hunter physically assault his wife.
“In one instance,” alleged the complaint, “Mr. Hunter stormed into the studio, demanded that other employees leave and openly physically abused Ms. Williams, pinning her against the wall with his hand around her neck, choking her while repeatedly pounding his fist into the wall directly by her head.” The case was apparently settled on Oct. 22, 2008.
Spence did not respond to requests for comment.
“They’re not your typical couple,” said the former radio employee. “They’re not a couple where you think there is love there. It’s very toxic.”
Williams and Hunter met at a skating rink in 1994, married three years later and welcomed their son, Kevin Jr., in 2000. Hunter, who owned a beauty parlor before meeting Williams, became her manager and production partner.
“He has no life without her. He didn’t even own a computer when I [worked] for him,” said the former radio employee.
Hunter is known for showing up to work in a green Ferrari and wearing fur coats. Multiple sources say he smokes pot in his office at the “Wendy Williams Show” and both the longtime TV show staffer and the former TV producer said he sometimes walked the set with a bottle of tequila in hand.
Despite having no previous TV experience, Hunter was made an executive producer of the show. He wasted no time letting the staff know who was in charge.
“There was definitely a point when we were scared to go to work,” said a former talent employee at the TV show, who quit a few years ago, largely, the person said, due to Hunter’s verbal abuse. “The screaming got to be too much,” the ex-employee said.
While no sources at the “Wendy Williams Show” report having witnessed any physical abuse by Hunter since the show started, former employees say he regularly humiliated Williams.
“At one point she became vegan-esque,” said the former TV producer. “Kevin would berate her if she ate something that was not on their eating plan. He’d scream, ‘Don’t be a fat ass!’
“It’s a cycle of abuse,” the ex-producer continued.
According to the former TV producer, Hunter tried to keep Williams from fostering close friendships. When she and a show wardrobe stylist developed a rapport, Williams took care to keep it secret, said the ex-TV producer.
“Once they went to a designer’s showroom in Manhattan and the stylist drove Wendy back [home] to New Jersey. Wendy asked to be dropped off a block away so Kevin wouldn’t see that she was in the car with the stylist,” said the former TV producer — adding that Hunter eventually found out “and the stylist was let go from her position shortly after.”
But Williams has kept the faith, brushing off rumors of Hunter’s alleged mistress, Sharina Hudson, on the air, stating in September 2017: “I stand by my guy.”
On Monday’s show, guest host Nick Cannon shared that he had spoken to Williams and that “her, Kevin and Little Kevin . . . are all good. The passion is still there because that’s what you need in times like this.”
For now, those close to Williams hope she gets the help she needs.
“I don’t f–k with Kevin. I think he’s a terrible human being,” said Charlamagne Tha God, who was a close friend of Williams’ and co-hosted her radio show until he was fired in 2008.
“I will just tell you that I hope Wendy Williams wakes up before one day she doesn’t wake up.”