Oprah Winfrey has backed out as executive producer on an upcoming documentary about the #metoo movement. While the key figures involved in the Apple TV+ project have yet to be announced, it will feature former Def Jam employee Drew Dixon – who told The New York Times in 2017 that entrepreneur and record executive Russell Simmons raped her back in 1995.
Media mogul has been criticized for her involvement in the project, but in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter on Friday, she revealed she was withdrawing from the role as “it has become clear that the filmmakers and I are not aligned in that creative vision”.
“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+,” she said. “I want it to be known that I unequivocally believe and support the women. Their stories deserve to be told and heard.”
Oprah added: “In my opinion, there is more work to be done on the film to illuminate the full scope of what the victims endured.”
Elaborating on her conflict with the filmmakers, the former daytime talk show host explained: “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.”
Russell has denied Dixon’s allegations and publicly urged the star to back away from the project, sharing an impassioned plea on his Instagram page.
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#Repost @unclerush when documentary was announced.. 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.Ihave given you the gift of meditation and the groundbreaking book”THE POWER OF NOW “we bonded to say the least. This is why it’s so troubling that you choose me to single out in your recent documentry. I have already admitted to being a playboy more (appropriately titled today “womanizer”) sleeping with and putting myself in more compromising situations than almost any man I know. Not 8 or 14 thousand like warren Beatty or Wilt Chamberlain, but still an embarrassing number. So many that some could reinterpret or reimagine a different recollection of the same experiences. Your doc is focused on 3 hand chosen women. I have refused to get in the mud with any accusers, but let’s acknowledge what i have shared. I have taken and passed nine 3-hour lie detector tests (taken for my daughters), that 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”. Today I received a call from an old girlfriend from the early 1980s which means that they are using my words/evidence against me and their COMMITMENT/ (all of the claims are 25 to 40 years old) It is impossible to prove what happened 40 years ago, but in my case PROOF EXISTS of what didn’t happen, mostly signed letters from their own parents, siblings, roommates, band members, interns, and in the case of 2 of your 3 accusers,their own words in their books. Shocking how many people have misused this important powerful revolution for relevance and money. … In closing, I am guilty of exploiting, supporting, and making the soundtrack for a grossly unequal society, i have even been unconsciously callous , but i have never been violent or forced myself on anyone. Still I am here to help support a necessary shift in power and consciousness. Let us get to work on uplifting humanity and put this moment and old narrative behind us Love you