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Oprah Explains Why She Dropped Out Of The Russell Simmons Accuser's #METOO Documentary, It’ll Still Premiere At Sundance

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Oprah has stepped away from the #METOO documentary centered around a former music exec who has accused Russell Simmons of sexual assault. Here’s why…


Oprah has decided to back away from the upcoming #METOO documentary centered around a former music executive, Drew Dixon, who has accused Russell Simmons of sexual assault. She’s no longer an executive producer on the untitled doc from Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering. The film has also been pulled from its AppleTV+ distribution. However, it’ll still make its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 25th.

So, what made Lady O have a change of heart? Basically, creative differences. The media mogul isn’t satisfied with it and believes it’s not fully finished. And since she’s not 100% pleased with the documentary, she’s wiping her name from the film. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t believe the woman though. She’s still riding hard for the #METOO & #TIMESUP movements.

Here's what she said...

“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," Oprah said in a statement. "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.”

Documentary filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering are "disappointed" about Oprah’s withdrawal as EP, and the cancellation of AppleTV+ distribution. They released a joint statement that reads:

"Revealing hard truths is never easy, and the women in our documentary are all showing extraordinary strength and courage by raising their voices to address sexual abuse in the music industry. While we are disappointed that Oprah Winfrey is no longer an Executive Producer on the project, we are gratified that Winfrey has unequivocally said she believes and supports the survivors in the film.

"The #MeToo experiences of Black women deserve to be heard, especially against powerful men, so we will continue with our plans to bring the film to The Sundance Film Festival. This film, more than two years in the making, will be our eighth film to premiere at Sundance."

"The film is a beacon of hope for voices that have long been suppressed, and an inspiration for anyone wanting to regain their personal power.”

#TIMESUP Foundation president/CEO Tina Tchen also issued a statement following Oprah's exit:

“Time's Up is in full support of the survivors who have spoken out about Russell Simmons. These women are brave. We believe them. We support Oprah Winfrey in maintaining that the victims’ stories deserve to be heard on their own terms. Too often, black women are silenced, disbelieved, or even vilified when they speak out. On top of that, for years, these women have been attacked by powerful forces surrounding Russell Simmons – illustrating how difficult it is to speak out against powerful men. And how important it is for powerful men to be held accountable for their actions. As Oprah made clear in her statement, any decision by her and Apple regarding this documentary does not change the underlying facts. We assert Time's Up's unwavering support for these survivors. We are in awe of their courage and strength. We will continue to fight for them, and we will continue to fight for a future where black women are truly heard and believed.”

The upcoming documentary will focus on former music exec Drew Dixon, who has produced hit records for Tupac, Method Man, and Mary J. Blige. You’ll recall, Drew shared with the New York Times that Russell Simmons allegedly raped her. She was a long time executive at Russell's Def Jam label and she said while overseeing projects from Method Man and Mary J. Blige, the Hip Hop mogul constantly harassed her and even raped her one night in his Manhattan apartment in 1995 when she was 25. The doc will reportedly explore her decision to become one of the first women of color to come forward as part of the #MeToo movement.

After news of Oprah's exit, Russell hopped on Instagram and reposted his the post he put up back in December where he expressed his disappointment with Oprah, whom he considered as a positive figure in his life.


View this post on Instagram

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. Please note that ur producers said that this upcoming doc was to focus ONLY 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, 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

A post shared by Russell Simmons (@unclerush) on



Photo: Tinseltown/ Kathy Hutchins/Shuttershock.com

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