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In what appears to be a second big setback for Apple TV+, it looks like a new documentary that was originally being produced by Oprah Winfrey will not be airing on the service after all, following Oprah’s decision to remove her name from the project.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Winfrey was working on a high-profile documentary about sexual misconduct in the music industry that’s scheduled to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival later this month. In fact, the documentary, which centered on former music executive Drew Dixon who had levied accusations against hip-hop producer Russell Simmons, was expected to be one of the most significant documentaries debuting at this year’s Sundance festival.
Following the festival, Winfrey had planned to air the documentary on Apple TV+, as part of her partnership with Apple, but as of last week has decided that she is stepping away from the project entirely, and removing her name from it entirely.
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+.Oprah Winfrey
Winfrey made it clear in her statement to The Hollywood Reporter that her choice to leave the project has nothing to do with the subject matter nor the women who have come forward, and that she not only “unequivocally” believes the woman, but says that their stories deserve to be told and heard. However, Winfrey noted that while she respects the filmmakers behind the documentary, she feels that they are not aligned with her creative vision, and that they’re releasing the film before it’s ready.
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.Oprah Winfrey
The documentary film, which does not yet have a title, will be going ahead with its Sundance Film Festival premiere, but Oprah Winfrey’s name will no longer be associated with it, nor will it air on Apple TV+, since it seems that was related to Winfrey executive producing the film.
Winfrey has made it clear that even though she’s stepping aside, she still plans to continue working to support the victims and others who have been impacted by abuse and sexual harassment through contributions to various organizations and pursuit of other similar documentary projects.
Further, Oprah is continuing her work on the other two documentaries that she announced for Apple TV+ last year, including a mental health documentary being co-produced by Prince Harry, along with Toxic Labour, focusing on sexual harassment in the workplace in more general terms, showing how the #MeToo movement is a problem for everyone and not just those working in Hollywood and the music industry. No release date has as of yet been announced for either of these projects, although they’ve both been in production for several months already, and are expected to arrive sometime this year.
This is actually the second high-profile project that Apple has faced problems with. One of Apple’s first feature films, The Banker, was pulled from the AFI Film Fest in November, following allegations that called into question the facts of the supposedly true story, as well as revelations of possible abuse by the son of one of the title characters, who also served as co-producer for the film.
While the future of The Banker remains in question, however, and could simply be a matter of timing, the situation with this latest documentary is far more clear in that it will simply be going ahead without Oprah’s blessing, but therefore without being added to Apple’s television lineup either.