Alexia Norton Jones, one of the women who accused Russell Simmons of sexual misconduct in the new documentary, On The Record, was shocked when she discovered that Oprah Winfrey backed out of the project at the last second, a new report from Variety revealed.
According to Jones, she saw the interview with Gayle King on CBS This Morning in which Oprah explained why she chose to remove herself from the executive producer role in the film.
Oprah removed herself from the project, directed by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, right as it was about to be screened at the Sundance Film Festival. Winfrey explained that she felt accuracy was important, which was one of the primary reasons why she backed out.
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50 years ago today, Dr. Maya Angelou published her autobiography “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.” @Oprah says, “Since the moment I opened I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, I've felt deeply connected to Maya Angelou. With each page, her life seemed to mirror mine: In her early years she was raised by her grandmother in the South; as a young girl she was raped; and, like me, she grew up reciting what the church folks called little pieces—a few lines from the Bible that were usually delivered amid shouts and amens from the women fanning themselves in the front pews. Meeting Maya on those pages was like meeting myself in full. For the first time, as a young black girl, my experience was validated.” Let’s celebrate this classic book today 📚📚📚📚📚(📸: @gburnscamera)
During the same interview, Winfrey claimed the pressure she had received from Russell Simmons wasn’t playing a role in her decision to move away from the documentary. Later, it was revealed that Winfrey actually misconstrued one of the women’s names during the interview.
Regardless, the exit of Winfrey, who had ties to Apple’s streaming platform, Apple+, led to the streaming platform’s cancelation of their deal with the filmmakers. Following Winfrey’s decision to move away from On The Record, approximately a dozen other women came out to support the women who appeared in the doc.
Even though many of the directors, cast, and crew members will appear at Sundance on the 25th of January to see the film, Norton Jones doesn’t plan on going. She claims she couldn’t afford to go anymore due to the fact Apple dropped the project.
During a chat with Variety, Alexia Norton Jones spoke at length about the film and how Winfrey’s exit from the deal affected her. Paraphrasing her comments in the interview, Alexia Norton Jones claimed that it felt like Oprah, who had built an entire brand around being a victim of abuse, had suddenly backed out of the project, leaving women of color stranded.
“It was painful because she was abandoning us,” Norton Jones explained. Alexia claims once Oprah backed away from the project, the only people she has remained in contact with are the filmmakers.