An impactful decision was made right before the 2020 Sundance Film Festival that would potentially affect the future for one of Apple TV's films which were inspired by the #Metoo movement. Influential music figure, Russell Simmons is in the midst of a socio-political battle with one of television's most powerful superstars, Oprah Winfrey.
A survivor herself, Oprah Winfrey decided to take on one of the most culturally-relevant projects of her entire career. Partnered with Apple's streaming service Apple TV+, Oprah Winfrey was set out to executive produce a documentary that would discuss the career of Russell Simmons who was under a lot of public scrutinies for his sexual misconduct as a leader in music and entrepreneurship.
With several of Russell Simmons' accusers, Oprah Winfrey was set out to produce a visual narrative that would shed light on the many women who were sexually harassed by the music executive.
Oprah Winfrey is no stranger to public scrutiny as she has been a vocal leader in the #Metoo movement and has persuaded many women to come forward with their stories in hopes of creating a safer professional environment for women in the entertainment and music industry. With this being said, it was recently announced that Winfrey would leave the production of Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering's "On the Record." Oprah's announced absence from the project left many perplexed and even caused an uproar online.
A movement founded by Tarana Burke, #Metoo is geared towards acknowledging victims of sexual assault or misconduct and exposing the perpetrators who conducts these unlawful actions. Many speculated that Winfrey's departure was a victory for Russell Simmons' career. Seeking out to deny these claims of Russell Simmons getting away scot-free, Winfrey spoke to "CBS This Morning" to debunk a lot of these speculations.
In her interview with the news outlet, Oprah Winfrey expressed how the reasoning behind her departure was fueled by her own identity as a victim of sexual assault. Winfrey wanted to do the right thing for herself as a survivor and claimed that the production had to be flawless in order for her to tackle such a heavy issue revolving around Russel Simmons' career. Furthermore, Oprah Winfrey dwelled on the fact that she shouldn't have taken on a project that she didn't have total creative control over because she wanted to tell the stories of the victims correctly and wanted their moment of vulnerability to be delivered in the most respectful and truthful way. Aside from her very vocal absence, Oprah Winfrey urges everyone to watch the film as she believes it still has a prominent impact on the climate the entertainment industry is in currentlly as it will be showcased at the Sundance Film Festival.