BREAKING: Deadline has confirmed that Oprah Winfrey has just withdrawn as EP on the Untitled Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering Documentary and is also pulling the movie from its AppleTV+ distribution. The doc, set to make its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival next month, centers around a former music executive who grapples with whether to go public with her story of assault and abuse by a notable figure in the music industry; that person allegedly being Russell Simmons. The film is billed as taking a sharp look at race, gender, class and intersectionality, and the toll assaults take on their victims and society at large.
Winfrey’s statement is below:
“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+. 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.”
We’ve reached out to the Sundance Film Festival, but I hear from sources that the movie still plans to premiere in Park City, Utah later this month on Jan. 25. I understand that Winfrey’s departure from the project stemmed from creative differences. Under her Harpo Productions deal with AppleTV+, it is my understanding that she has the authority to decide what gets placed on the streamer from her pipeline.
The Sundance press site describes the doc as following music exec Drew Dixon “whose career and personal life have been deeply affected by the abuse she faced from the men she admired in the industry she loves…as she grapples with her decision to become one of the first women of color to come forward as part of the #MeToo movement.” Dixon was the producer of hit records by 2Pac, Method Man, and Mary J. Blige.
Apple announced the doc back in early December. Dick and producer Ziering, are the team behind the Oscar-nominated college campus rape doc expose The Hunting Ground and The Invisible War. The Hunting Ground earned an Oscar nomination for Diane Warren-Lady Gaga original song “Til It Happens to You”. Dick and Ziering were Oscar nominated in the feature doc category for 2012’s The Invisible War, which broke the story of the epidemic of rape in the U.S. military, leading to five congressional hearings and the passing of 35 reforms through Congress.
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