Wendy Williams Tells All in Heartbreaking Documentary

By Terrance Turner

Jan. 30, 2021

I have a career for over three decades talking about people, and now I’m being talked about. I’m doing Hot Topics, and now I’m a Hot Topic.”

Tonight, talk show host Wendy Williams did with herself what she does with everyone else — she spilled the tea.

Tonight, in a two-hour Lifetime documentary, Williams revealed long-held secrets about her addiction, her health, and the collapse of her two-decade marriage. She coughed. She cursed. She cried no less than eight times. In fact, Williams broke down within less than a minute of filming.

“I’m an emotional person, and I’m not afraid of sharing my vulnerability,” she said, through her tears. And share she did — from her childhood growing up in New Jersey to her very real problems in adulthood.

There were issues even from the beginning. Born in July 1964, Williams grew up in New Jersey, the middle child of three children. She struggled with her weight from a young age. “Wendy was overweight,” her parents say bluntly in the documentary. “I was weighed constantly,” Williams reveals. Her father told her, “Wendy, you’ve got such a pretty face — if you could just lose the weight.” To do so, Williams went on strict diets and even became bulimic. Her brother found out but did nothing. But the purging stopped when Wendy learned that bulimia could lead to tooth decay.

Wendy found that out from a gossip rag. “I loved the tabloids — the National Enquirer, the Globe, the Star magazine,” she enthuses. It was those tabloids from which young Wendy learned about plastic surgery — which would soon become a major part of her adult life.

At 24, Williams’ passion for gossip and tabloids led to a career opportunity. She was hired by Hot 103.5, a New York radio station, in 1988. She was fired — because, she says, a fellow jock was kissing up to everyone in the station. She got hired by Kiss 98.7 and became a “shock jock”, famous for salacious gossip and invasive personal questions. In the documentary, we hear clips of her asking Mariah Carey intrusive questions about her sex life. We hear that she secretly recorded an off-air interview with Whitney Houston, asking about Houston’s drug use and whether she discussed it with her daughter Bobbi Kristina.

But that go-there, say-anything attitude would come back to haunt her.

In the meantime, Wendy Williams would contend with her own #MeToo moment. In the late 1980s, Williams interviewed a rising R&B singer. He invited her to a party — and then back to his hotel room. Williams joined him. “I was just gaga over this man,” she told reporters while promoting the film, “and he asked me to go to an opening party, an album release party, with him that night.” 

He told her he was going to go change before the party, and then emerged with “nothing on — just a pair of boxers.” She didn’t know what was going on, but Williams wasn’t down with it. “I didn’t want to have the sex,” she says. “He forced himself on me,” Williams reveals, “and he date-raped me.”

After the rape, “I went home, scrubbed my skin off, cried,” she says. She didn’t tell anyone, Williams says. She does not name the singer in the film. But in a recent interview, Williams revealed that her assailant was R&B singer Sherrick. (He died in 1999.)

As she dealt with the after-effects of her assault, Williams escalated an addiction that befell so many in the 1980s. “I started doing a lot of coke,” she confesses in the doc. “I got high like, five days a week.” Her cocaine habit went on for years, even as she worked to conceal the drug abuse from employers and co-workers. But the documentary intimates that her using wound down around the same time that she met the man who would change her life forever.

“I met Kevin on April 6, 1994, and we met at a kiddie skating rink where DJ Mister Cee was doing the music,” Williams says. “Kevin” was Kevin Hunter, a debonair hoodlum from Brownsville. He asked for her number through someone else. Wendy fell for him — hard. “He smelled good; he looked good,” she recalls in the doc. “We liked the same music. He had a great sense of humor.”

In Hunter, Williams found a lover, protector, and diehard supporter: “He made me feel loved. Comforted. And supported.” Kevin supported her in her career goals. He supported her when she decided to have plastic surgery — liposuction and breast implants. Kevin even saved her from an attack by R&B group Total. (Williams had been disparaging Total on the radio, claiming they were broke and that their manager Puffy didn’t pay his workers. Total jumped out of a bus to come beat Wendy up; Kevin swooped in and prevented her the attack.) It was the start of a protective attitude that would pervade their relationship.

“By the first traffic light, I knew I liked him,” Williams reveals. She was so taken with him that they continued the relationship even after she left New York. A tumultuous relationship with Hot 97 led to her departure from the station. A non-compete clause prevented her from going to a station within a certain radius of Hot 97. She began working at a Philadelphia radio station.

Williams credits herself with the success of the station. “When I got to Philly, Power 99 was No. 14 in the ratings, and I took it to No. 1,” she says. Her career took a backseat to motherhood — or at least an attempt at it. Williams got pregnant twice — but suffered two miscarriages at the five-month mark. She also had to deliver a stillborn child.

The tragic losses actually solidified the couple’s bond. Hunter decided that their child should be in wedlock this time. He and Williams married in 1997. Then Williams conceived again. This time, she was able to carry to term. On August 18, 2000, she gave birth to her only child, Kevin Hunter, Jr. Motherhood, she says, was everything she wanted it to be.

But Wendy Williams’ joy was short-lived. Just two months after Kevin Jr’s birth, Williams went to the nursery and overheard “Big Kev” talking on the phone. She knew he was talking to a girl, Williams says. But he swore it was over. And Wendy wasn’t ready to cut the cord. “I didn’t know how to be a mother,” she explains in the film. And she didn’t want to raise the infant by herself. So she decided to stick it out. “I said, ‘Alright. Well, this is love. We’ll not get divorced’,” she says.

Instead, Williams made a high-profile return to New York. She met with Vinny Brown, her New York program director, and negotiated a new deal. She let Hunter think he had brokered the deal when he called Brown to discuss salary and hours. “Kevin doesn’t know that,” Williams said. “I’m telling this story for the first time publicly.”

By then, Hunter had become Williams’ manager. As Williams’ star rose, Kevin Hunter became more widely known — and more intimidating. “When Kevin was nice, he’s lovely,” Williams says. “But when he’s mad or mean, or things don’t go his way, he’s the worst.” This impression is further bolstered by former co-worker Arthur J. Brown, who says that Hunter “was bullying station managers” and that he witnessed tense moments between the couple. “I didn’t see anybody get their head bashed,” Brown says, “but it would get very tense […] It never affected her when the mic was on. But when the mic was off…”

Co-workers interviewed in the film paint a troubling picture. When Wendy landed her own talk show in 2008, Hunter was a menacing presence on set. A stage manager says that “Kevin would literally grab her off the floor if he was unpleased.” But according to Williams, that was the extent of the physicality. Hunter’s mother alleged last year that she witnessed her son choking and kicking Wendy. But Wendy denies that in the documentary.

“Kevin’s not a woman-beater,” Williams says. “I wasn’t a battered woman…Kevin never beat me.” She adds: “I was an emotionally abused woman, and I was taken advantage of horrifically.” But she maintains that Kevin never abused her physically.

What affected her more than anything, however, was the infidelity. Kevin owned a New Jersey condo of his own, which Williams regarded as a “party house” to spend time with his friends. Williams knew Hunter and his friends were partaking: “They’d drink brown liquor and smoke blunts!” Williams didn’t want that in their house, around their child. So Kevin Hunter having his own condo was no big deal…at first. What Williams didn’t know was that Hunter was entertaining more than just his friends.

One day, she came over to the condo and found incriminating evidence. “I opened up a night table drawer and saw a Rolex watch,” Williams tells the camera. “He said, ‘I was buying that for you.’ I said, ‘You’re lying. Who’s the bitch?'” Hunter denied the accusation of cheating. But Williams knew better: “There were underwear that didn’t fit me in the bed, and the bedsheets were nasty.”

“And whenever I went around Kevin’s people, they could never look me in the eye, and I knew it was always out of guilt,” Williams charges. She says she’d demand, “Look me in the eye. You don’t think I know? Look me in the eye.”

Things got worse. So Williams put her snooping skills to the test. “Kevin had gone to LA for ‘business’. I hired a PA — yes, I did,” Williams says. “I found a whole lot of stuff.” The results were startling: Kevin Hunter was not only sleeping with but living with another woman. Wendy’s former employee Charlamagne was from South Carolina, like the other woman, and had introduced her to Hunter.

Charlamagne introduced Hunter to massage therapist Sharina Hudson. “Charlamagne didn’t introduce Sharina to Kevin for the purpose of getting that close,” Williams says. “And Kevin’s so stupid — what a stupid gorilla. The PI was taking pictures of them going to the gym, going to dinner, her with Gucci, Pucci and Lucci,” Williams says.

Williams’ voice drips with disdain as she talks about Hudson being “in the passenger seat of my Rolls-Royce Ferrari. And my son’s in Miami.” She seethes at Kevin Hunter for buying a house — mere miles from the Hunter residence — “to share with that backwoods bitch.”

“You planned dates for dinner with another woman. You planned to sit down on that beach in Miami with that other woman,” Williams says. And eventually, Hunter had a baby with this other woman. In March 2019, Hudson gave birth to a baby girl — reportedly fathered by Hunter. Williams was shattered by the news.

That betrayal was the last straw — and the nail in the coffin of a 22-year marriage.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

In Bombshell Interview, Mariah Carey Reveals Inspiration Behind Two Classic Songs

Baseball player Derek Jeter with singer Mariah Carey at rapper Puff Daddy's birthday gala at Cipriani Rest, in New York in 1998. (Credit Image: © John Barrett/Globe Photos)

By Terrance Turner

Sept. 3, 2020

“It wasn’t raining yet
But it was definitely a little misty on a warm November night
And my heart was pounding
My inner voice resounding
Begging me to turn away
But I just had to see your face
To feel alive…

My apprehension blew away/I only wanted you…
To taste my sadness as you kissed me in the dark.
Every time I feel the need
I envision you caressing me
And go back in time
To relive the splendor of you and I
On the rooftop that rainy night.”

“The Roof” (1997), feat. Mobb Deep

With this vivid, evocative prose, singer Mariah Carey recalls a memorable night on the roof, in the rain. She wrote the lyrics to “The Roof” — a dreamy, romantic love song with a hard hip-hop edge — for her 1997 album Butterfly. The album represented a liberation of sorts for Carey; it was released the same year she split from Tommy Mottola, former CEO of Sony Music. (Sony is the parent company of Columbia Records, to which Mariah was signed until 1998.)

In a jaw-dropping interview with Vulture this week, Carey reveals that she wrote the song about Yankees baseball legend Derek Jeter.

According to Vulture, Jeter and Carey “met at a dinner party and started text-flirting, secretly, while she was at the end of her marriage to Mottola”. Jeter and Carey shared “a clandestine kiss” on the roof of his apartment building, writes Vulture reporter Allison P. Davis. “There was Moet. She wore a buttery leather Chanel skirt. She remembers her boots and the rain and her hair curling in stunning detail.”

“Of course I do!” Carey told Davis. “I could never forget that moment.” Carey went on to say that “it was a great moment, and it happened in a divine way because it helped me get past living there, in Sing Sing, under those rules and regulations.”

Carey is referring to the $20 million compound that she shared with Mottola. She called it “Sing Sing” — a reference to the famous maximum-security prison in upstate New York. “It was fully staffed with armed guards, security cameras were installed in most rooms, and Tommy was in control,” she writes in her memoir.

Mariah and Mottola married in 1993, when he was 43 and she was 23. But the marriage soon went south; Carey reportedly felt trapped in it. “He’s controlling,” a friend of Carey’s told People around the time of the breakup. That matches what Carey herself has said over the years. “It was very controlled,” Carey told Cosmopolitan in 2019. “There was no freedom for me as a human being. It was almost like being a prisoner.”

Carey and Mottola at the CFDA Awards in 1995. Photo from MariahJournal.com

She elaborates further in excerpts quoted in her book, The Meaning of Mariah Carey: “Every move I made, everywhere I went, I was monitored—minute by minute, day after day, year after year,” she writes. “I was living my dream, but couldn’t leave my house.”

The situation epitomized Mottola’s control over Carey, which soon became evident to those in the media. A 1996 profile of Mottola in Vanity Fair by writer Robert Sam Anson says: “Mariah’s career was soaring, and Tommy was guiding it every step of the way. He approved her material, oversaw her arrangements, checked her promotion, and, to no one’s surprise, made sure her attorney was Allen Grubman, who, in addition to handling a goodly chunk of Sony’s legal chores, now represented a third of its talent roster and the bulk of its key executives. ‘Allen Grubman is my best friend in the world,’ Tommy says in response to questions about conflicts. ‘End of subject. Over and out’.”

“Mariah, friends say, is a very young 26-year-old. They also portray her as increasingly antsy about her husband’s wardening (‘Always being up my ass,’ a former staff member quotes Mariah as saying), which includes the employment of two bodyguards, whose duties extend to accompanying her to the bathroom door, and the placing on Sony’s payroll of a constant shepherdess, the wife of Epic Pres. Dave Glew.”

Anson continues: “For all of Tommy’s precautions, though, there have been slips: a Concorde flight during which Mariah poured out her problems to Diana Ross; an unwelcome friendship with an old high school boyfriend (‘Tear his eyes out,’ an aide recalls Tommy saying after he saw his wife being ogled, but Tommy says, ‘No, I never said anything like that’) and the most public incident, a noisy quarrel in a Beverly Hills hotel lobby after [the 1996] Grammy Awards.” (Carey had been nominated for a handful of awards, but went home without a single trophy.)

The Vulture profile mentions security cameras in the compound that watched her every move. In the book, she details that surveillance. The Daily Beast notes that Carey describes having to sneak downstairs “for a snack, or to sit at the table and write down some lyrics. But every time, right as I would start to settle into the calm of the quiet dark and begin to find my breath—Beep! Beep! The intercom would go off. I’d jump up, and the words ‘Whatcha doin’?’ would crackle through the speaker.”

Davis also notes that, when they started discussing Mottola during a Zoom call, Carey began to cry. Those tears were a long time coming. In 2008, Carey told Parade magazine: “On my new album [E = MC2], the song “Side Effects” says, ‘Kept my tears inside, ’cause I knew if I started I’d keep crying for the rest of my life.’ It’s really true. At that point in my life, I didn’t cry because I had to be so emotionally cut off to deal with it.”

Sure enough, the lyrics reveal a fraught emotional state that continues to haunt Carey: “Wakin’ up scared some nights still thinkin’ ’bout them violent times/Still a little protective of the people that I let inside/Still a little defensive, thinkin’ folk be tryna run my life/Still a little depressed inside, but I fake a smile/And deal with the side effects.”

Mottola issued a diplomatic statement as Carey’s book neared publication. In it, he wished his ex-wife and her family “the very best”. In his 2013 memoir, Mottola apologized for “any discomfort or pain” he had caused Carey: “If it seemed like I was controlling, I apologize. Was I obsessive? Yes. But that was also part of the reason for her success.” Carey, too, acknowledged to Parade: “I do believe that I learned a lot from him and that he really did believe in my talent and I am very grateful for that.”

By 1996, however, it was clear that the marriage was crumbling. “In the beginning,” Carey writes, “I was walking on eggshells. Then it became a bed of nails, and then a minefield. I never knew when or what would make him blow, and the anxiety was relentless.”

She details a chilling moment towards the end of the marriage: “Tommy walked over and picked up the butter knife from the place setting in front of me. He pressed the flat side of it against my right cheek. Every muscle in my face clenched. My entire body locked in place; my lungs stiffened. Tommy held the knife there. His boys watched and didn’t say a word. After what seemed like forever, he slowly dragged the thin, cool strip of metal down my burning face.” 

Into this nightmarish situation stepped Derek Jeter.

The two met at the aforementioned dinner party, and sparks began to fly — inspiring one of Carey’s most memorable singles. “It was a little misty on a warm November night”, she writes on “The Roof”. The accompanying album, Butterfly, was released in Sept. 1997. That would place her clandestine meeting with Jeter ostensibly at Nov. 1996 — just after his star-making rookie season with the Yankees.

Jeter spent his entire 20-year career with the New York Yankees. He is the Yankees’ all-time leader in hits, singles, stolen bases, and games played, according to New Jersey newspaper The Record. He won five World Series championships with the Yankees, including one during his rookie season in Oct. 1996 and three consecutive championships from 1998-2000. (The Yankees won again in 2009.)

When he wasn’t playing shortstop and hitting home runs, Jeter was quietly seeing Carey. In December 1997, he showed up on the set of a video that Mariah was shooting — a clue that a romance was already brewing. And “The Roof” wasn’t the only Mariah Carey song inspired by Derek Jeter. In the Vulture profile, Carey revealed that she also wrote “My All” with Jeter in mind. The lyrics outline intense but conflicting feelings:  “I am thinking of you / In my sleepless solitude tonight / If it’s wrong to love you / Then my heart just won’t let me be right / ‘Cause I’ve drowned in you / And I won’t pull through / Without you by my side.”

The song was written after a trip the two took to Puerto Rico — which may explain the Spanish guitar and Latin percussion. In an interview with Fred Bronson, Carey explained: “I had gone to Puerto Rico and was influenced by Latin music at that moment. When I came back, the melody was in my head. It was at a melancholy point in my life and the song reflects the yearning that was going on inside of me.” Released in April 1998, “My All” became Mariah’s 13th #1 single.

By then, the romance was public — and in full swing. According to ESPN, Mariah joined Jeter in Florida for his team’s spring training in March 1998. The Yankees began the season 1-4. Tongues began wagging in the sports world, and some blamed Mariah for Jeter’s hitting slump. But the Yankees won 25 of their next 28 games, according to Yankees Magazine. Jeter would eventually earn his first All-Star honor and his second World Series ring. By June, however, he and Carey had fizzled out. Constant media attention was cited as a reason for the breakup.

Still, Carey spoke warmly of Jeter for years afterward. “I think he’s a great guy,” she told Larry King in 2002. “And I really, really love his family. They taught me something special,” she said. “I never saw an interracial family that had stuck together and stuck it out that way. I learned a nice lesson from them.”

Like Mariah Carey, Derek Jeter is biracial. Both grew up encountering racism. Jeter has spoken about being pulled over while driving down the street and being accused of stealing things from stores. Carey’s mother Patricia was disowned by her family for marrying Mariah’s father, Alfred Roy Carey. Carey writes in her book about being invited to a friend’s house in the Hamptons only to be called the N-word. (Comedian Sandra Bernhard reopened those wounds after Butterfly‘s single “Honey” was released, saying during her standup that Carey ‘was acting real ‘niggerish’ up there at the Royalton Hotel suite with Puff Daddy and all the greasy, chain-wearing Black men.’)

Carey speaks explicitly about growing up biracial in the Vulture interview and in her new book, The Meaning of Mariah Carey. The memoir, published by Andy Cohen Books, was released Sept. 29. In the meantime, enjoy one of the songs inspired by Jeter — with a remix featuring rap group Mobb Deep. “The Roof” is embedded below.