by G. Brown
Oprah Winfrey had signed on as executive producer of a documentary that NBC News described as “shrouded in secrecy” that reportedly was going to shed light on rape cases in the hip-hop music industry. The primary subject of the doc was to be another heavyweight in the entertainment industry Russell Simmons. The doc was to feature a former music executive who claims to have “suffered sexual harassment and abuse” at the hands of the Def Jams founder.
The untitled doc was set to begin filming in two weeks, but now Winfrey has suddenly dropped out saying in a released statement, “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.”
Winfrey went on to imply that the filmmakers are rushing to meet a deadline “before I believe it is complete.”
Though she cites creative differences as the reason for her bowing out of the Simmons doc, some are saying it was pressure from the Black community that caused her withdrawal.
Winfrey ironically is friends with Simmons. It’s their friendship that opened the door to some backlash. Simmons called Winfrey’s involvement in the documentary “troubling” given their friendship. Simmons spoke his conscience and his mind to Winfrey in an IG post recently saying he’s admitted to being a playboy or womanizer who slept around with an embarrassing number of women. Because he readily offered up that confession, Simmons seemed perplexed that Winfrey was backing the project that would rely on the word of three women accusing him of rape after he says he has taken and passed nine different lie detector tests.
Simmons wrote, “This is why it’s so troubling that you choose me to single out in your recent documentary...” Adding what looks like a personal slam to Winfrey, Simmons said, “Shocking how many many people have misused this important powerful revolution for relevance and money.”
That jab about Oprah having a hidden agenda resonated with one online commenter who said, “ I feel like Oprah always has a hidden agenda“.
Others pointed to Winfrey’s involvement in the documentary targeting sex molestation charges against late pop icon Michael Jackson as more proof that the talk show host goes after Black men specifically. One commenter came to the conclusion, “Oprah Ain’t For Us Anyway“.
Airing dirty laundry is how Winfrey rose to fame on her syndicated talk show. As years went on and more fortune fell at her feet, she ascended to more of a spiritual guru who freely offered self-help advice to women and often bathed her audiences in gifts like free cars.
She’s always been held in the highest esteem within the Black community and seldom criticized. So maybe she did yield to some public pressure from both fans and other celebs like rapper 50 Cent who also blasted Winfrey for going after Black men.
Oprah could be flexing some journalistic muscle and refusing to do another hit piece to take down another Black man in the ongoing #MeToo movement. She could be a powerful ally for women who are victims in Hollywood’s male-dominant culture…or she could be a powerful tool in the hands of the #MeToo war that seems to be making casualties of mostly Black men while all the White men accused of similar crimes still seem to somehow dodge hit pieces spotlighting their crimes and avoid having a day in court or jail.