Why Oprah Winfrey Exited Russell Simmons’ ‘Sexual Abuse’ Documentary
Oprah Winfrey has revealed why she will no longer take part in Russell Simmons’ documentary.
“He did reach out multiple times and attempted to pressure me,” Winfrey told The Associated Press through a spokesperson.
It was not anything Simmons said that prompted Winfrey to withdraw from the “On the Record” film, according to Winfrey, but rather inconsistencies in the story of one of Simmons’ accusers, Drew Dixon, that she felt needed to be addressed.
Winfrey has said she wanted to delay the release of the film, which is scheduled to premiere Jan. 25 at the Sundance Film Festival, but that view was not shared by the film’s directors.
Winfrey herself has spoken openly of been sexually abused. She said that she still believes Dixon and other women in the film, but that more reporting was needed. “On the Record” directors Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering have said they have ample evidence against Simmons, a co-founder of Def Jam Recordings.
Winfrey announced she was leaving as executive producer on Jan. 10, saying that more work was needed and that and the filmmakers were “not aligned” in their “creative vision.” The film’s producers, Impact Partners, said in a statement earlier this week that the movie was “ready for Sundance.”
“We have always championed the voices of those who have been wrongly silenced. The women in this film have made a great sacrifice by coming forward to tell their stories in their own words. We are honored to support them,” the Impact statement reads. “We stand firmly behind the work of the intrepid filmmakers who continue to break new ground by advancing important stories in the public interest.”
The communications between Winfrey and Simmons and her concerns about Dixon’s story were first reported by The New York Times.
Simmons has denied any wrongdoing and his representative did not immediately comment, according to AP.