Oprah Winfrey is stepping away from a documentary that centered on a former music executive who has accused Russell Simmons of sexual misconduct.
The high profiled documentary is slated to at the Sundance Film Festival later this month. Winfrey, who previously was an executive producer, had planned to air the doc on Apple TV+ after the festival.
The untitled documentary will be directed and produced by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering (The Invisible War). It will tell the story of Drew Dixon, a former music executive at Def Jam Recordings.
Dixon had been forced out of her job after experiencing prolonged and aggressive sexual harassment by Russell Simmons. Dixon reported that she left the company in 1995 after Simmons raped her in his apartment.
Part of her statement to The Hollywood Reporter:
“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."
Winfrey goes on to say that she considers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering as "talented filmmakers" and she has great respect for their mission. But she is leaving the project because she feels that the film is not ready to premiere at Sundance. Winfrey also said that she will be working with Time's Up "to support the victims and those impacted by abuse and sexual harassment.”
Time's Up president and CEO Tina Tchen released a statement to THR stating that she supports Oprah's decision and that she supports the women coming forward in the documentary.
Dick and Ziering released a statment to Deadline stating that they are disappointed that Oprah is leaving the documentary but they are grateful that she still supports the victims. They say that they are still going to release the documentary at Sundance.