The Harpo CEO steps down as executive producer of the documentary, which gives the spotlight to the record executive’s accuser, and yanks it from Apple TV+.
AceShowbiz –Oprah Winfrey is distancing herself from a documentary that centers on sexual misconduct allegations against Russell Simmons. The former daytime talk show queen has announced that she stepped down as an executive producer on the untitled project from Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering and canceled plans to air it on Apple TV+.
Announcing her withdrawal in a statement, the 65-year-old media mogul said, “I have decided that I will no longer be executive producer on The Untitled Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering Documentary and it will not air on Apple TV+.”
Winfrey explained that her decision to step down from the project doesn’t reflect her opinion on the accusers’ stories. “First and foremost, I want it to be known that I unequivocally believe and support the women. Their stories deserve to be told and heard,” she stated. “In my opinion, there is more work to be done on the film to illuminate the full scope of what the victims endured and it has become clear that the filmmakers and I are not aligned in that creative vision.”
Underlying their creative differences, Winfrey added, “Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering are talented filmmakers. I have great respect for their mission but given the filmmakers’ desire to premiere the film at the Sundance Film Festival before I believe it is complete, I feel it’s best to step aside. I will be working with Time’s Up to support the victims and those impacted by abuse and sexual harassment.”
The documentary, which was planned to air on Apple TV+ after its Sundance premiere later this month, focuses on a former music executive who grapples with whether to go public with her story of assault and abuse by a notable figure in the music industry believed to be Simmons.
The woman has been confirmed as Drew Dixon, who worked as an executive at Def Jam Recordings, which was co-founded by Simmons, when the said sexual misconduct happened. The alleged rape took place in his apartment in 1995 and Dixon quit the company shortly afterwards.
In December last year, Simmons called out Winfrey for developing the documentary. He found it “so troubling” that the former television host chose to “single out” him. “Shocking how many people have misused this important powerful revolution for relevance and money,” he lamented. “Maybe you should name your documentary ‘flavor of love’.”
50 Cent also slammed Winfrey for the documentary, accusing her of betraying her own people by taking white men’s sides. Last month, he posted photo collage of the 65-year-old actress posing with some powerful white men, including former president George W. Bush, real estate tycoon and current president Donald Trump as well as former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.
He wrote in the caption, “My grand mother was such a big fan of Oprah that it felt like I made it when I did her show because she was so happy. I just want to know why this is playing out like this. #lecheminduroi #bransoncognac #starzgettheapp #abcforlife.”
Winfrey never responded to the backlash.
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