Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick’s documentary, which centers around the women who have accused Russell Simmons of rape, became mired in controversy when Oprah Winfrey announced prior to the festival that she was no longer backing the project, which was expected to be part of her overall deal with Apple TV+. Oprah explained that she grew concerned over "inconsistencies" in Drew Dixon's account, and felt that there were issues that "the film had not adequately addressed."
Dixon, a former Def Jam music executive who claimed to be sexually assaulted by Simmons, is one of the accusers featured in the doc. Despite Oprah's sudden departure, a number of distribution companies, including Amazon, CNN Films, Focus Features, IFC, Netflix, Roadside Attractions, and Showtime, attended the Sundance premiere of On the Record, however, most reportedly passed.
HBO Max acquired the doc for the purpose of housing it solely on the streaming service with the possibility of a theatrical release still being up in the air. "The fierce determination of Drew Dixon and all of the women who bravely chose to share their stories in On The Record moved us profoundly," Sarah Aubrey, head of original content at HBO Max, said. "I've been impressed with Amy and Kirby's work over the years covering this complex subject matter, and look forward to this film finding the widest possible audience."
Ziering and Dick applauded the doc's new home for giving them the platform to showcase their work, saying they are "so proud to be teaming with HBO Max to give this film the outstanding platform it deserves and can't wait for the public to see and hear the voices of these courageous women."