Russell Simmons Accusers Doc Lands at HBO Max After Oprah Exit

On the Record ( Courtesy: Matthew Takes)

On the Record, the documentary about sexual abuse allegations against music mogul Russell Simmons, has found a new home after Oprah Winfrey and Apple TV+ dropped the project.

Following the film’s Jan. 25 premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, HBO Max announced Monday it has acquired the project.

The film from co-directors Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick tells the story of former music executive Drew Dixon (producer of hit records by Method Man and Mary J. Blige, Estelle and Kanye West, and Whitney Houston) as she struggles with the decision to become one of the first women of color to publicly accuse Simmons of sexual misconduct.

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The film shows several other accusers – Sil Lai Abrams, Sheri Hines, Jenny Lumet, Alexia Norton Jones – saying women of color are often silenced and ignored when reporting sexual abuse.

“The fierce determination of Drew Dixon and all of the women who bravely chose to share their stories in On The Record moved us profoundly,” Sarah Aubrey, head of original content at HBO Max, said in a statement Monday. “I’ve been impressed with Amy and Kirby’s work over the years covering this complex subject matter, and look forward to this film finding the widest possible audience.”

HBO Max is a new streaming service from WarnerMedia that launches in May 2020.

The documentary was initially slated for release on Apple TV+ as part of Winfrey’s production deal with the company, but that fell through when the media mogul exited the project.

In a Jan. 21 interview with CBS This Morning, Winfrey admitted Simmons contacted her multiple times and “attempted to pressure” her to abandon the doc. She also said she took her name off the film because she was troubled by “inconsistencies,”and felt it needed more work before its Sundance debut.

The filmmakers disagreed and proceeded without Winfrey.

On The Record is produced by Dick and Ziering’s Jane Doe Films with Dan Cogan for Impact Partners, Regina K Scully for Artemis Rising, Ian Darling for Shark Island and Abigail Disney for Level Forward serving as executive producers. The creative team includes producers Jamie Rogers and Amy Herdy.