Oprah Winfrey is revealing that embattled Russell Simmons tried to “pressure” her to convince Apple TV+ to drop its upcoming documentary focusing on the allegations of multiple women who have accused him of sexual assault.
Winfrey, 65, dropped the bombshell in an interview with the New York Times.
“He did reach out multiple times and attempted to pressure me,” Winfrey said, explaining that Simmons contended that one of the accusers, Drew Dixon, was lying.
While she dropped out as a producer of the film, Winfrey insisted Simmons’ pressure had no bearing on her decision to cut ties with the film.
“I told him directly in a phone call that I will not be pressured either into, or out of, backing this film,” Winfrey said. “I am only going to do what I believe to be the right thing.”
The documentary, “On the Record”, will make its debut at the Sundance Film Festival later this month; last week, Winfrey stepped away as executive producer of the film due to her feelings that it’s not yet ready to release. The doc was initially slated to stream on Apple TV+, but those plans were scuttled when Winfrey dropped out.
“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+,” Winfrey said in a statement. “First and foremost, I want it to be known that I unequivocally believe and support the women.”
She continued: “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.”
In her statement, Winfrey states that “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.”