After the #MeToo movement and subsequent evaluations of power dynamics and sexual assault in the workplace, allegations continue to come forward about members of the entertainment industry. The Harvey Weinstein scandal has led to much TV coverage and documentary footage because of the momentousness of the events surrounding his demise. Now a documentary is in the works about Russell Simmons, and it has just changed hands as Oprah Winfrey dropped out as an executive producer, therefore removing it from the Apple TV+ lineup. HBO Max will now be the film’s destination.
Music and entertainment producer Russell Simmons was accused of sexual assault by numerous women over the past few years. These women have described incidents that allegedly occurred between 1998 and 2014. In 2017, Drew Dixon, who worked with Simmons at his rap label Def Jam recordings was the first to come forward with these claims, to which Simmons asserts are all false.
He made the following statement about the accusations:
“What I will not accept is responsibility for what I have not done. I have conducted my life with a message of peace and love. Although I have been candid about how I have lived in books and interviews detailing my flaws, I will relentlessly fight against any untruthful character assassination that paints me as a man of violence.”
On the Record will tell the stories of the women who have come forward, likely tackling the overall corruption of the music industry as well. Winfrey has said that the film does acknowledge the power of the surviving women, but adds that:
“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.”
Documentaries with such a heavy subject matter will inevitably come with some conflict, but it seems that HBO Max is more than happy to be moving the project forward.