Oprah Winfrey has withdrawn from being an executive producer on a #MeToo documentary that reportedly features rape accusers of former record executive Russell Simons.
Winfrey on Friday announced her decision in a statement to Deadline, confirming the doc is no longer part of her overall deal with Apple TV+. Sources tell the publication that the untitled project, produced and directed by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, will still premiere at the Sundance Film Festival later this month.
“I have decided that I will no longer be an executive producer on The Untitled Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering Documentary and it will not air on Apple TV+. 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. 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.
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 will tell the story of Drew Dixon, a former music executive who was among the group of women who accused Simmons of sexual assault in 2017. After the third assault allegation was published in a guest column in The Hollywood Reporter in November 2017, by Jenny Lumet, Simmons stepped down from his roles in the label Def Jam Records, his yoga lifestyle brand, CNNMoney, and other media properties.
In an open letter to Oprah on his Instagram page, Simmons denied his accusers’ allegations and claimed he has taken multiple polygraphs to prove his innocence.
“Dearest OPRAH, you have been a shining light to my family and my community. Contributing so much to my life that I couldn’t list a fraction of it in this blog…we bonded to say the least. This is why it’s so troubling that you choose me to single out in your recent documentary,” he wrote.
“I have taken and passed nine three-hour lie detector tests (taken for my daughters) … these stories have been passed on by CNN, NBC, BUZZFEED, NY POST, NY MAG, AND OTHERS. Now that you have reviewed the facts and you SHOULD have learned what I know; that these stories are UNUSABLE and that ‘hurt people hurt people.’”
By: Dammy Eneli