- Mario Anzuoni/Reuters
- Oprah Winfrey is no longer executive producer on a documentary centered on sexual assault in the music industry that was due to go out on Apple’s streaming service, Apple TV Plus.
- Winfrey on Friday announced that she was walking away from the project and that Apple TV Plus would no longer distribute the film because of creative differences with the filmmakers Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick.
- Winfrey said Ziering and Dick were rushing the film to premiere it at the Sundance Film Festival, which takes place at the end of this month.
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Oprah Winfrey, one of the highest-profile stars Apple managed to get on its roster when it launched Apple TV Plus, is walking away from a Time’s Up documentary that was supposed to go out on the streaming service, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The documentary centers on sexual-assault allegations that were leveled against the record producer Russell Simmons by the former music executive Drew Dixon. In a 2017 interview with The New York Times, Dixon accused Simons of raping her in 1995.
Winfrey was an executive producer on the documentary, and the creative force behind it is the filmmakers Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick, who made the 2015 documentary “The Hunting Ground” about sexual assault on college campuses and “The Invisible War” in 2012, which focused on sexual assault in the US military.
“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 told The Hollywood Reporter.
In her explanation, Winfrey alluded to creative differences with Ziering and Dick, saying the pair were rushing the documentary to production in time for the Sundance Film Festival at the end of January:
“First and foremost, I want it to be known that I unequivocally believe and support the women. 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.
“Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering are talented filmmakers. 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. I will be working with Time’s Up to support the victims and those impacted by abuse and sexual harassment.”
In a comment to Deadline, Ziering and Dick responded with disappointment but said the documentary would still air at Sundance:
“Revealing hard truths is never easy, and the women in our documentary are all showing extraordinary strength and courage by raising their voices to address sexual abuse in the music industry. While we are disappointed that Oprah Winfrey is no longer an Executive Producer on the project, we are gratified that Winfrey has unequivocally said she believes and supports the survivors in the film.
“The #MeToo experiences of Black women deserve to be heard, especially against powerful men, so we will continue with our plans to bring the film to The Sundance Film Festival. This film, more than two years in the making, will be our eighth film to premiere at Sundance.
“The film is a beacon of hope for voices that have long been suppressed, and an inspiration for anyone wanting to regain their personal power.”
Apple was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Business Insider.