Oprah Winfrey’s forthcoming #MeToo documentary set to be released next year on Apple TV is already facing backlash, with music mogul Russell Simmons and rapper-actor 50 Cent stepping forward to accuse Winfrey of strategic omissions and outright falsehoods.
Winfrey is producing the as yet untitled documentary, which is about sexual harassment in the music industry and is believed to focus on Simmons.
The new project comes from filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering who made CNN’s 2015 campus-rape documentary The Hunting Ground, which also faced criticisms of inaccuracies and misreporting of facts.
Simmons is facing multiple accusations of sexual assault going as far back as three decades. The rap mogul, who denies the allegations, was one of the most prominent entertainment figures to be swept up in the early days of the #MeToo movement.
Simmons lashed out at Winfrey in a lengthy and rambling Instagram post Friday, claiming that he has “never been violent or forced myself on anyone.”
The Winfrey documentary reportedly focuses on Drew Dixon, a former music executive who accused Simmons of rape in 2017. A tagline on the movie’s IMDb page reads: “A former hip hop executive decides whether to make public her rape by one of the most powerful men in the music industry.”
“It’s so troubling that you choose to single me out in your recent documentry [sic],” Simmons wrote, addressing Winfrey.
“I have already admitted to being a playboy (more appropriately titled today ‘womanizer’) sleeping with and putting myself in more compromising situations than almost any man I know.”
Simmons said he passed “nine 3-hour lie-detector tests,” and the “stories are UNUSABLE.”
“I am guilty of exploiting, supporting and making the soundtrack for a grossly unequal society, but I have never been violent or forced myself on anyone,” he wrote.
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Dearest OPRAH,you have been a shining light to my family and my community. Contributing so much to my life that I couldn’t list a fraction of it in this blog.Ihave given you the gift of meditation and the groundbreaking book”THE POWER OF NOW “we bonded to say the least. This is why it’s so troubling that you choose me to single out in your recent documentry. I have already admitted to being a playboy more (appropriately titled today “womanizer”) sleeping with and putting myself in more compromising situations than almost any man I know. Not 8 or 14 thousand like Warren Beatty or Wilt Chamberlain, but still an embarrassing number. So many that some could reinterpret or reimagine a different recollection of the same experiences. Please note that ur producers said that this upcoming doc was to focus ONLY 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”. Today I received a call from an old girlfriend from the early 1980s which means that they are using my words/evidence against me and their COMMITMENT / (all of the claims are 25 to 40 years old) It is impossible to prove what happened 40 years ago, but in my case proof exists of what didn’t happen, mostly signed letters from their own parents, siblings, roommates, band members, interns, and in the case of 2 of your 3 accusers, their own words in their books. Shocking how many people have misused this important powerful revolution for relevance and money. Maybe you should name your documentary “FLAVOR OF LOVE”!? In closing, I am guilty of exploiting, supporting, and making the soundtrack for a grossly unequal society, but i have never been violent or forced myself on anyone. Still I am here to help support a necessary shift in power and consciousness. Let us get to work on uplifting humanity and put this moment and old narrative behind
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50 Cent also attacked Winfrey on Instagram Thursday, accusing her of focusing on black men while omitting prominent figures like Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein.
“I don’t understand why Oprah is going after black men,” the rapper wrote. “No Harvey Weinstein, No Epstein, just Micheal jackson and Russell Simmons this shit is sad.”
He added: “These documentary’s are publicly convicting their targets, it makes them guilty till proven innocent.”
The Winfrey documentary is set to premiere in January at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.