Oprah Winfrey Quits as Executive Producer for Russell Simmons Accuser Doc but Says She Believes & Supports the Women

Oprah Winfrey steps back from controversial documentary for Apple TV+.

Media mogul Oprah Winfrey has withdrawn as the producer of the documentary she was creating for Apple TV+ about the sexual misconduct accusations against Russell Simmons.

The documentary was to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in late January and to air on Apple TV+ afterward.

Time's Up Foundation president and CEO Tina Tchen has come on in support of Oprah's decision to withdraw

Oprah Winfrey at Apple headquarters on March 25, 2019, in Cupertino, California/ Source: Getty Images

Oprah Winfrey at Apple headquarters on March 25, 2019, in Cupertino, California/ Source: Getty Images

OPRAH WINFREY ISSUES SURPRISE STATEMENT

Just weeks away from the documentary's premiere at the prestigious film festival, Oprah has withdrawn from her collaboration, claiming "the filmmakers and I are not aligned in that creative vision."

Oprah claims that while Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering consider the film finished and ready to air, she believes that there is "more work to be done" on the documentary. She said:

"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." 

OPRAH WINFREY BELIEVES THE VICTIMS

Oprah carefully explains that her withdrawal in no way reflects on the veracity of the victim - former music executive Drew Dixon - and that she believes and supports her. Oprah further states that she will be supporting the victims through the Time’s Up organization.

PRODUCTION TEAM: "WE ARE READY FOR SUNDANCE"

Jenny Raskin, Geralyn Dreyfous and Dan Cogan of production company Impact Partners released their own statement, calling the Russell Simmons documentary one of the most powerful they have funded and revealing that it will be released at Sundance as planned.

TIME'S UP SUPPORTS OPRAH WINFREY'S DECISION

Time's Up Foundation president and CEO Tina Tchen has come on in support of Oprah's decision to withdraw and stated:

"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."

Oprah has been a fierce defender of the rights of sexual abuse victims throughout her career and was supportive of the "Leaving Neverland" documentary, which has been challenged for inaccuracies.

View this post on Instagram

#Repost @unclerush when documentary was announced.. 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. Your doc is focused 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, i have even been unconsciously callous , 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 Love you

A post shared by Russell Simmons (@unclerush) on

RUSSELL SIMMONS DENIES ACCUSATIONS

Shortly after Oprah Winfrey announced her participation in the documentary project which would give voice to Russell Simmons' accuser, he posted an open letter to the media mogul on his Instagram account. He wrote:

"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."

Simmons went on to admit that he had been unfaithful to his wife Kimora Simmons but stated that he has never raped anyone.

Simmons asked Winfrey to investigate the accusations thoroughly before proceeding in a course of action that might irreparably damage his family.

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