Earlier this month, Oprah Winfrey revealed that she had stepped down from working on the documentary about Russell Simmons’ sexual assault accusers, titled On the Record, after she felt that she and the directors had different creative visions for the film. The media mogul recently came forward and elaborated on why she decided not to be a part of the doc. A spokesperson for Winfrey told the Associated Press that if anyone thought Simmons had something to do with her changing her mind, they are wrong. Though he tried to influence her, it didn’t work.
“He did reach out multiple times and attempted to pressure me,” Winfrey said in a statement.
Despite his efforts, she decided to not work on the documentary anymore due to inconsistencies in the story of one of his accusers, Drew Dixon. Winfrey said she believes Dixon but the inconsistencies need to be addressed. Directors Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering feel they have enough evidence to go forward with the film and still plan to premiere it at the Sundance Film Festival Janaury 25th, something else Winfrey didn’t agree with. Since Winfrey is no longer a producer, On the Record will not be airing on Apple.
“We have always championed the voices of those who have been wrongly silenced. The women in this film have made a great sacrifice by coming forward to tell their stories in their own words. We are honored to support them,” Winfrey said in a statement when she decided to not be affiliated with the project. “We stand firmly behind the work of the intrepid filmmakers who continue to break new ground by advancing important stories in the public interest.”
Simmons responded to Winfrey’s claims about him attempting to pressure her and denied that that was his intention when he spoke to her.
“If defending himself against terrible accusations is considered intimidation then there would be no justice,” a spokesperson for Simmons said in a statement.
Dixon accused Simmons of being sexually inappropriate with her while she worked at Def Jam Recordings in the early 1990s when he was the CEO and sexually assaulting her in his apartment in 1995. A total of 18 women have accused Simmons of sexual harassment or sexual assault.