Say Whaaaaaaat…??Oprah Winfrey Steps Away From Russell Simmons Accuser Doc, Pulls From Apple+

The high-profile documentary is scheduled to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival later this month.

Oprah Winfrey is stepping away from a documentary that centered on a former music executive who has accused Russell Simmons of sexual misconduct

The film has been among the highest profile doc projects set to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival later this month. Winfrey, who until now had served as an executive producer on the film, planned to air it on Apple TV+ following the festival.

“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 said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “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.”

She continued, “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.”

Apple’s initial characterization of the project left the primary subject’s name out of logline, which simply read: “A brilliant 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. The film is a profound examination of race, gender, class and intersectionality, and the toll assaults take on their victims and society at large.”

The official Sundance description confirmed the subject is, as was widely reported, Drew Dixon, who alleged instances of misconduct initially by Simmons in a 2017 interview with the New York Times. The Def Jam Recordings co-founder had served as Dixon’s boss during her time as an executive at the music label. The alleged rape is said to have occurred in his apartment in 1995; Dixon quit the company shortly after.

Dick and Ziering are no stranger to the charged subject of sexual assault. The pair scored an Oscar nomination for The Invisible War, which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and explored the life after for rape survivors in the U.S. military.

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