Not everything has to be complicated.
A week after filing for divorce from Kevin Hunter after 21 years of marriage, Wendy Williams appears to be fast-tracking his excision from her day-to-day life. Her latest move: acknowledging her staff’s well-chronicled objections to his presence on the set of her eponymous talk show.
“Kevin Hunter is no longer an executive producer on The Wendy Williams Show,” a show spokesperson confirmed to E! News on Thursday morning. “Debmar-Mercury wishes him well in his future endeavors.”
Hunter, who recently welcomed a child with his longtime mistress, had been an executive producer on the show since its debut in 2008—and irking people who worked for them for almost as long.
“Having Kevin on set was stressful and made for a tense working environment,” a source shared as news of his exit surfaced. “Wendy is relieved.”
“Several weeks ago, Wendy and Kevin had a confrontation over his alleged mistress. Kevin admitted to the affair and to fathering the child,” a source told E! News.
The news sent Williams, who revealed in March that she had been living in a sober house, “over-the-edge and she relapsed,” the insider continued. “After recovering from the relapse, Wendy made the difficult decision to divorce Kevin. It was a very hard choice for her, but she finally realized she had to put her health and well-being first.”
After weeks of putting on her usual show but seeming not quite her high-energy herself to her live audiences once the cameras weren’t rolling, she’s been in top form in recent days.
Almost as if a weight has been lifted from her shoulders, or something like that.
“Wendy was so unbelievably incredible today,” gushed a member of the audience at Monday’s taping. “She came out and went into what’s going on at the sober house and Kevin in a way that you can tell she’s, like, back.” Added another, “She didn’t say Kevin’s name but you could tell there were certain times when she was talking about him and making little jabs.”
Williams didn’t mention Hunter by name, as she tended not to do while addressing their rumored marital issues on past occasions, but not saying his name carried extra symbolism this time. As in, Kevin who?
As per the rules and regulations of the “Hot Topics bureau,” Williams said, “now my business is your business.” She started laughing, adding, “It’s kinda funny!”
“I can tell you this, I had a really good weekend,” she continued. “I got together with my girls—I told you, I have my sober friends, six of them, they’re really good, and two of them are my sponsors.” She elaborated on their food situation for a minute, revealing that she had leftover peanut noodles from a three-hour dinner she had with her sister, Wanda, who had traveled up to New York from Miami to be there for her.
“It’s nice to spend time with your sister. They correct some of the things you do wrong and they help you when you’re not doing enough,” Williams said, “and they tell you how to do it.”
She planned to move out of the sober house in a few days, she said, and had “a whole new life” planned for herself and her son, 18-year-old Kevin Hunter Jr.
“Addressing my sobriety, my addiction head-on, has really helped me sort out every single compartment in my life,” Williams told her audience, which applauded enthusiastically as she took a sip of tea. “I have a commitment to me and my son to come out of here better, stronger and faster than ever—and by the way, I will still commit—’cause you’ll forget about my business any moment now—I commit that the motto of this show will always be ‘their business is our business!'”
Moving on to a clip of Cardi B, Wendy, in her first reference to being single, noted that she was “distracted by that chocolate gumdrop [Cardi’s bodyguard] over her shoulder. Back it up now, I’m on the loose. Hold on…”
“I got security, and no disrespect, fellas,” she quipped, “…but nobody looks like this.” (TMZ reported that she hired three full-time security guards about a week before she filed her divorce papers on April 10.)
Williams also made a reference to having babies, saying, “women who’ve crossed through menopause, the one thing we never have to worry about again is that,” as she pointed to her belly.
“‘Cause I don’t know about you but my diaper-changing days are over.” Followed by another sip of tea. “Moving on…,” she added, feigning innocence.
Another appreciative audience member told E! News that Wendy’s “energy was incredible. After the taping she spent awhile thanking the audience, saying she wouldn’t be here without us.” (In the weeks leading up to the divorce, Williams hadn’t been interacting with the audience as much.) “She took a bunch of selfies and seemed really happy to be here.”
A bodyguard was close at hand throughout.
“I will whisper to you during the break,” Williams replied. “I have one, but I want to hear what you say.”
We’ve also learned that Williams has been apartment-hunting in Manhattan, which certainly fits into her announced plan for a fresh start, and she’s been seen going back and forth from the gym, Pilates being her go-to workout these days.
After going on her scheduled holiday break last year, Williams ended up not returning to her show until March 4, when she emotionally revealed she’d been living in the sober house. Her first guest host, Nick Cannon, assured the audience at the beginning of February that he had talked to Wendy, that she had her family around her, and she would be back soon, but fans couldn’t help but be concerned for her, as reports of her being out of sorts and perhaps off the wagon (she has been frank about her past struggles with drugs and addiction) piled up.
Meanwhile, rumors of discontent behind the scenes at The Wendy Williams Show started popping up as well, including a Daily Mail report that the staff would be happy if Cannon replaced their boss full-time. The former America’s Got Talent host quickly shot that down, but the rumored consensus was that the show team was mainly hoping that Williams would return without her husband.
“Just remember—the show is called Wendy. So it needs Wendy Williams back—but when she comes back, she better not bring Kevin back with her because we’ve all had enough of him,” a show source told the Mail Online in February.
Incidentally, The Wendy Williams Show had been previously renewed through the 2019-2020 season, and Williams’ current contract with Lionsgate goes until 2022.
Bernard Smalls for The Hunter Foundation
Her reluctance to leave Hunter, or even to be more open about their issues, had left her fans (and eventually anyone paying attention to the news) puzzled, as her seemingly authentic no-nonsense candor has always been such a huge part of her appeal.
Of course such matters, especially when they include business and money, Hunter having been her manager and partner in Wendy Williams Productions in addition to her husband and father of her son, are way more complicated than just a desire to appease the court of public opinion.
Hunter and Williams “will need to address unique legal issues for divorced couples who work or own a business together, such as exit packages and who gets to keep the business,” Rebecca Provder, a divorce attorney and mediator with New York-based law firm Moses & Singer LLP, tells E! News. “With an 18-year-old son, another important topic for them to consider is varying child support age cutoffs in different states.”
The child support cutoff age is 21 in New York and 19 in New Jersey. And The Blast reported yesterday that the pair were indeed negotiating what could prove to be a very lucrative Wendy show exit package for Hunter, who was no longer welcome on set. (As of Thursday’s show, the onscreen credits still had Hunter as an executive producer.)
Bruce Glikas/Getty Images
Williams is said to be worth around $60 million, and financial planner David Rae predicted to E! News last week that this particular celebrity divorce would be a “juicy” one.
“It’s going to depend on what state they’re in, it’s going to depend on how much they want to fight, and how much Wendy wants to keep her money,” he said, noting that whether it was a fault or no-fault divorce would matter. “Her husband allegedly cheating, allegedly having a baby with another woman, gives her the upper hand in this divorce to keep a lot of that $60 million,” Rae observed. “And when there’s money like that on the line, she’s going to fight to keep it. And, he’s going to fight to get it.” (Neither Rae nor Provder are involved in these proceedings.)
AP Photo/Charles Sykes
So far, Hunter has made a public show of being gracious and contrite.
“28 years ago I met an amazing woman: Wendy Williams. At the time, I didn’t realize that she would not only become my wife, but would also change the face of entertainment and the world,” Hunter said in a statement to E! News Tuesday. “I have dedicated most of our lives to the business empire that is Wendy Williams Hunter, a person that I truly love and respect unconditionally.
“I am not proud of my recent actions and take full accountability and apologize to my wife, my family and her amazing fans. I am going through a time of self-reflection and am trying to right some wrongs.”
And Williams is still erring on the cautious side when it comes to spilling that tea, no matter how much she literally drinks it on camera.
But give it time. In her 2001 memoir Wendy’s Got the Heat, she described in detail finding out about finding out Hunter was cheating on her about a month after their son was born.
“I wanted to kill him. I mean really kill him. For real. I wanted to kill him more because I was in the process of breaking my Number One Rule: No Cheating,” she wrote.
In turn, she’s been candid about choosing to forgive him, acknowledging to Vlad TV in 2013, “If you told me when I was 25 years old, or 30 years old, that I would stay around for a cheater, I would’ve been like, ‘you’s a liah, you are lying, I’ve got way too much to offer a man to stick around for him cheating on me.’ But I did, and I don’t regret it. I do think it’s a double standard with cheating. I think that you men are just sometimes so neanderthal that you could never put up with your woman cheating, a man putting paws on your meat. But women have got to deal with that fact, many of us, at some point in our lives.”
As she also wrote in her book, “What I learned is that if you make mistakes, learn from them and move on and above all else be true to yourself—don’t try to fit into a mold of what someone else thinks you should be.”
However, she also told Vlad TV that an open relationship was “a recipe for disaster,” mainly because it’s usually just one person actually living that life.
“For the life of me, I would never do that—but you know what I’ve noticed? Open relationships seemed cute and worked for these couples…and I kind of enjoyed being friends with them…but guess what’s happened? As the women have gotten older, ’cause now we’re all around 50, they’ve slowed down on this notion, and the husbands still want it.”
KAT / MEGA
Williams insisted in 2017, in the wake of the Daily Mail‘s explosive report that Hunter had been basically living a double life, married to Wendy but dating Sharina Hudson for the past 10 years, that “all [was] well in Hunterville.”
But she had also written in her book that she would leave if her husband if he ever lied to her about the nature of his relationship with another woman, such as “if he was in love, if she was just as successful at what she does as I am in my career, if she had his baby.” Unfortunately, she ended up with a chance to walk the walk.
And, true to form, since pulling the plug on her marriage she is walking with her head held high.
Catching up with her on her way to Pilates on Wednesday, a photographer told her that her fans were happy for her, and Williams brightly replied, “I’m happy for me, too!”