Drew Dixon, one of Russel Simmons‘ rape accusers, will soon tell her story in detail with a new untitled documentary premiering at Sundance. Oprah was initially attached to the project as an executive producer, but she dropped out because of creative differences. Now her best friend and fellow media personality Gayle King is giving more info about why Oprah left the project.
Russell Simmons made a name for himself in hip-hop culture as a co-founder of Def Jam Records, which helped propel some of the genre’s earliest icons such as LL Cool J and the Bestie Boys. Despite Simmons’ impact, his reputation was up for question after he was accused of rape by three women in a 2017 New York Times article. Since then, more women have come out with accusations and Dixon has been leading the charge in bringing awareness to rape and abuse. She and two other accusers – Sil Lai Abrams and Alexia Norton Jones — spoke with CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller about the documentary and what they all described as rape. “This is violently tackled and raped — while saying no and fighting and crying,” Dixon said about Simmons.
Not too long after it was announced that Oprah was an executive producer on the documentary, she eventually stepped down from her role in a statement that read, “There is more work to be done on the film to illuminate the full scope of what the victims endured.” She assured people that despite her leaving, she still supports the alleged victims. “I want it to be known that I unequivocally believe and support the women,” she wrote.
King further backed her friend on “CBS This Morning” on Monday after the show rolled the footage of Michelle Miller interviewing the three alleged victims.
“I know this was a very stressful and very difficult decision for her to take her name off because she knows that her taking her name off because, as you point out, Russell has done a very public and very private campaign to convince her, she knows that the message that sends is that maybe she was muzzled,” King said. “Nothing can be further from the case.”
Ever since the rape accusations came to light, Simmons has vehemently denied any assault. When Oprah was initially attached to the documentary, Simmons came at her hard in an Instagram statement saying, “Your doc is focused on 3 hand chosen women. I have refused to get in the mud with any accusers, but let’s acknowledge what i have shared. I have taken and passed nine 3-hour lie detector tests (taken for my daughters), that these stories have been passed on by CNN, NBC, BUZZFEED, NY POST, NY MAG, AND OTHERS. Now that you have reviewed the facts and you SHOULD have learned what I know; that these stories are UNUSABLE and that ‘hurt people hurt people.’”
As King stated however, Oprah didn’t leave the project because she was “muzzled” in any way. “She thought that the documentary needed to breathe a little more,” King continued. “She thought that it was important that it be put in context for the times because you know these allegations [are] from many years ago and now we’re here in 2020. Put it in context of the times of what was going on there at that time.”
Miller added that the documentary centered on Drew Dixon and a few other people were involved, but Oprah wanted more women in the documentary. The documentary is set to make its premiere at Sundance Film Festival on January 25.