The upcoming Untitled Kirby Dick/Amy Ziering Film, a documentary that dwells into the sexual harassment claims of a former Black music executive, has one less executive producer: Oprah Winfrey.
The media giant, who has not shied away from supporting sexual assault victims in the past, cites creative differences with the respected filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering. Their untitled project, which is set to be shown at the Sundance Film Festival later this month, follows one woman as she “grapples with her decision to become one of the first women of color to come forward as part of the #MeToo movement.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, where Winfrey released a statement, she said: “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’s statement continued: “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.”
Dick and Ziering, who received a Peabody award and Oscar nomination for their 2012 documentary The Invisible War, which wielded a much needed spotlight on rape victims in the military, will continue with the doc’s premiere at Sundance.
They said in a statement to THR: “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 of 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.”
The documentary follows Drew Dixon, a former music executive at Def Jam Recordings in the mid 1990s. Dixon publicly accused Russell Simmons of sexual misconduct in 2017. Simmons has unequivocally denied any wrong doing and admitted to passing nine lie detector tests. In response to Winfrey’s initial association with the doc, Simmons wrote on Instagram: “I am guilty of exploiting, supporting, and making the soundtrack for a grossly unequal society, I have even been unconsciously callous, but I have never been violent or forced myself on anyone.”
Untitled Kirby Dick/Amy Ziering Film debuts on January 25 at Sundance Film Festival.