Oprah Winfrey recently stepped away from the documentary on the sexual assault allegations surrounding Russell Simmons. According to Page Six, Oprah says that Simmons tried to stop her from producing the documentary. “He did reach out multiple times and attempted to pressure me,” she told Fox through a spokesperson.
The spokesperson also said that Winfrey’s decision to no longer do the documentary was not because of Simmons’ persistence.
“First and foremost, she believes all of the women,” the spokesperson added.
Oprah confirmed her exit from the project on Jan. 10. In a statement, 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. 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.”
The film is scheduled to premiere at Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 25.
Simmons addressed Oprah back in December after finding out about the documentary. In an Instagram caption denying the allegations made against him, he also said, “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.”