Oprah Winfrey Exits Documentary About Russell Simmons' Sexual Misconduct Accuser

The media mogul announced the news Friday night, stating she and the filmmakers "are not aligned in" their creative vision.


Image via Getty/Michele Crowe/CBS


Oprah Winfrey has stepped away from a documentary that explores the sexual misconduct allegations against Russell Simmons

The media mogul announced her decision Friday night in a statement toDeadline, 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 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. Sundance's website describes the film as "a gripping, complex study of race, gender, and the shared feelings of helplessness and terror that come from abuse ... Untitled Kirby Dick/Amy Ziering Film is a well-needed impetus for broad positive change—not just in the music industry but throughout the world."

Simmons has denied his accusers' allegations and claimed he has taken multiple polygraphs to prove his innocence. Several weeks ago, Simmons posted an open letter to Oprah via Instagram, suggesting she was helping perpetuate lies.

"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.'"

50 Cent weighed in on the project by accusing Oprah of singling out black men who have been accused of sexual abuse while ignoring the claims against high-profile white men.

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