Business News Industry People Media

HBO picks up documentary featuring Russell Simmons’ accusers

By | Published on Tuesday 4 February 2020

Russell Simmons

HBO has picked up a new documentary focused on the women who have accused music industry veteran Russell Simmons of sexual harassment and assault. The broadcaster has stepped in after the programme’s previous backers, Oprah Winfrey and Apple, bailed on the project just two weeks before it was due to premiere at the Sundance film festival.

Various accusations of rape and sexual harassment were made against Simmons in 2018 in the wake of the #MeToo movement. For his part, he has denied all the allegations.

The documentary ‘On The Record’ features a number of Simmons’ accusers, including Sil Lai Abrams, Sheri Hines, Jenny Lumet, Alexia Norton Jones and former Def Jam executive Drew Dixon. The programme was made by directors Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering.

The project was originally meant to air via Winfrey’s partnership with Apple’s new TV service. But last month she announced she was bailing on the project, saying in a statement: “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”.

Confirming they would now distribute the programme, the Head Of Original Content for HBO’s soon-to-launch new streaming service HBO Max, Sarah Aubrey, said: “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. 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”.

Welcoming the deal from their side, co-director Ziering added: “Kirby and I are so proud to be teaming with HBO Max to give this film the outstanding platform it deserves and can’t wait for the public to see and hear the voices of these courageous women”.