Oprah Winfrey just stabbed #MeToo documentary filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering in the back by abruptly pulling out of their upcoming movie, which means they have lost their distributor.
The history of this, as laid out by ShowBiz 411, is extremely revealing about just what a terrible person Oprah is.
None of this is at all surprising, at least not to me. Let’s not forget we’re talking about the same Oprah Winfrey who falsely accused an innocent shopgirl of racism back in 2003 to help promote a movie.
By the way, the movie in question– and this is important — was The Butler, which was produced by Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced mogul currently on trial for rape. It’s no secret, either, that Oprah and Weinstein became close during this time and that Oprah very much appreciated the (failed) campaign Weinstein launched to win her an Oscar.
A little history…
Prior to the Weinstein allegations that ushered in the #MeToo era, Dick and Ziering had already made a mark in this world with The Hunting Ground, a well-received 2015 documentary about sexual assault on college campuses, which, ironically, was distributed by the Weinstein Company. There was some controversy over the accuracy of the film, but that’s another matter. What matters here is that Dick and Ziering are not fly-by-nights. The Hunting Ground was nominated for and won all kinds of awards, so they were perfectly positioned to be taken seriously once #MeToo rocked the world.
They also won an Oscar nomination for The Invisible War, which looked at rape accusations in the military.
And so, just two weeks after the Weinstein scandal broke wide open in late 2017, the pair announced their next documentary would center on sexual assault in Hollywood, with an obvious focus on Weinstein.
Friedman explains what happened next:
This past December, however, Dick and Ziering announced that their film had changed focus, to the record business and “major figure.” Oprah was suddenly on board. Weinstein was no longer being discussed, as Simmons took his place.
So now there’s no Weinstein film, and Oprah has dealt the filmmakers a significant blow by making a public exit. She’s also declared their film somehow unfit for release, at least under her auspices.
So when the documentary, which is titled On the Record, was going to focus on Weinstein, there was no involvement from Oprah. But once the focus changed to a “major figure” in the record biz — Russell Simmons — Oprah’s suddenly on board.
We don’t know if Oprah was a catalyst for shifting the focus away from Weinstein and on Simmons, or if she came on board after the focus had already shifted. What we do know is that this is the same Oprah who put her considerable weight (no pun intended) behind Leaving Neverland, the HBO documentary that accused a deceased Michael Jackson of serially-abusing two young boys for years.
Oprah caught a lot of flak for jumping on the Leaving Neverland train. To begin with, Jackson is dead and unable to defend himself. The two accusers the doc focused on are now contradicting earlier claims Jackson never abused them. Both are seeking money from the Jackson estate. And then a gigantic hole was found in one of the accuser’s story. He who claimed to have been abused at Jackson’s Neverland train station. The only problem is that the train station did not exist at that time.
And then, to keep her ride on the oh-so trendy #MeToo wave going, she jumps aboard the Simmons exposé.
Two black icons.
And people noticed.
Left-wing activist Bishop Talbert Swan, blistered Oprah on social media. Referring to unconfirmed rumors about #MeToo problems in Oprah’s own family, Talbert tweeted: “Since Oprah Is concerned about alleged sexual assault victims of Black men, maybe she’ll do a doc on the young lady seeking support from the Vernon Winfrey Scholarship Fund to attend TN State U, but got flashed, touched and coerced for sex.”
He followed this up with: “Oprah‘s mantra is #BelieveVictims when it comes to Michael Jackson, R. Kelly, Bill Cosby, Russell Simmons, and every other Black man.”
He added, “Should that not apply to her daddy? Should it apply to her buddy Harvey Weinstein? Other white men?”
Rapper 50 Cent pointed out the same on his Instagram account: “I don’t understand why Oprah is going after black men. No Harvey Weinstein, No Epstein, just Michael Jackson and Russell Simmons this shit is sad.”
Back in December, Simmons himself asked Oprah why she chose to single him out. In a lengthy Instagram post, he wrote in part:
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[.] … This is why it’s so troubling that you choose me to single out in your recent documentary. 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… So many that some could reinterpret or reimagine a different recollection of the same experiences. Please note that [your] 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[.]
And now, just days before the January 25 premiere of the Simmons documentary at Sundance, Oprah not only bails, she’s attacking the film as “not ready” and questioning the veracity of one of Simmons’ accusers while claiming she still believes her.
In a statement released this week, Oprah said of her abrupt exit:
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+. 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.
But later she told the New York Times there were inconsistencies in one of the accusers allegations and that she bailed because the documentary did not adequately address those inconsistencies. Oprah also said she felt pressure from Simmons but that it had nothing to do with her decision to jump ship.
For their part, Dick and Ziering said they received just 20 minutes notice prior to Oprah releasing her statement pulling her support.
As I’ve already expressed countless times, I’m more than a little disgusted by these public trials by way of reality show and social media and cable news and The Very Important Documentary. Whether it’s Michael Jackson or Russell Simmons or Scientology or Roger Ailes or Robert Durst or R. Kelly, it’s a pop culture kangaroo court. It’s un-American. To convict people, to smear them forever as monsters outside a courtroom, is disgusting. The power of pop culture should be used to test The System, not to notch a win for the Michael Jackson prosecutors after they failed to convince a jury.
Setting my personal beliefs aside, though, look at how terrible Oprah is. Is it not a fair question to ask why she only puts her considerable media power behind documentaries targeting black icons, one of whom is dead?
Is it not fair to ask why she’s not using her considerable media power to dig into Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein and NBC’s apparent covering up for Weinstein and Matt Lauer?
And then, to bail on these filmmakers, to pull the distribution rug out from under them at the last second, and to do it while undermining their film…
What a terrible person Oprah Winfrey is.