The New York Times reported on Friday that Oprah dropped out of her executive producer role on On The Record, the upcoming documentary detailing the sexual assault accusations against Russell Simmons, but Oprah denies that she capitulated to pressure from the disgraced music mogul in doing so. Instead, she cited creative differences between herself and the director as the ultimate reason she pulled her support. According to Winfrey, production was being rushed to make its proposed Sundance Film Festival debut date before she believed it was complete.
However, she does say that Simmons did try to talk her out of producing the documentary, saying, “He did reach out multiple times and attempted to pressure me. I told him directly in a phone call that I will not be pressured either into, or out of, backing this film. I am only going to do what I believe to be the right thing.” Oprah also maintains that she believes Simmons’ accusers, despite inconsistencies in her account. Winfrey apparently believed that the film should have addressed those better, while the filmmakers, Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, insist that they have plenty of documentation to back up their source.
I just want to know why she is only going after her own. When it’s clear the penalties have been far more extreme for African American men. #lecheminduroi #bransoncognac #starzgettheapp #abcforlife pic.twitter.com/skH5a40Emj
— 50cent (@50cent) December 13, 2019
Meanwhile, Oprah has come under scrutiny from Simmons and other supporters such as 50 Cent, who posted social media memes accusing her of “only going after her own,” and Oprah said that she received calls from Simmons and other acquaintances hoping to cast doubt on his accusers’ stories. Simmons himself posted his own long-winded social media diatribe intended to make her reconsider. Meanwhile, the women accusing Simmons issued their own open letter rebuttal of his defense campaign, accusing him of gaslighting them in an attempt to cover up his alleged crimes.
On The Record is still due to debut at Sundance on January 25. You can read the full Times story here.