Oprah Winfrey insists documentary exit unrelated to Russell Simmons pressure

Oprah Winfrey insists documentary exit unrelated to Russell Simmons pressure

Oprah Winfrey insists her exit from an upcoming documentary detailing the sex assault allegations against Russell Simmons should not be considered a "victory lap" for the disgraced music mogul.

The media titan had been credited as an executive producer on Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering's project, titled On the Record, before announcing she was stepping down from the film in early January (20).

Winfrey recently revealed the Def Jam Recordings co-founder had tried to contact her "multiple times" about her involvement, and had "attempted to pressure" her into distancing herself from the forthcoming release, but she is adamant Simmons' efforts - including a public plea on Instagram - did not influence her decision to withdraw as a producer.

"This is not a victory for Russell, and I unequivocally say I did not pull out because of Russell," she told CBS This Morning.

"This is not a victory lap for him. I cannot be silenced by Russell Simmons for all I've been through."

Instead, the 65 year old reveals she removed her name from the documentary, which follows former Def Jam employee Drew Dixon as she grappled with her decision to go public with rape claims against Simmons, when it became clear that new information relating to the accusations would not be addressed onscreen before On the Record's planned premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah later this month (Jan20).

"Before the public pressure had started, before Russell had gone with his Instagram, I had gone to the filmmakers, and I said to them, 'Houston, I think we had a problem,' because new information had come forward, the very first time this was announced," Winfrey explained.

"And I said, 'I think we need to pull out of Sundance and if we can't pull out of Sundance, I'm going to have to take my name off. But I don't want to pull my name off, because it's going to be a big hullabaloo (controversy). We need to get it right. There's some inconsistencies in the story that we need to look at.'"

Defending her decision to depart the project, Winfrey shared, "Until the thing is on the screen, you have the right to change your mind and make changes."

And she reveals the drama has served as a big learning curve for her going forward: "Don't put your name on anything that you do not have creative control over," she added.

Dixon came forward with the rape allegations against Simmons in 2017, accusing the hip-hop pioneer of forcing himself on her in his apartment back in 1995. Simmons has denied all claims of non-consensual sex.


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