Oprah quits sexual harassment documentary slated for Apple TV Plus and Sundance

She says she stepped away over creative differences.

Ian Sherr Contributor and Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Ian Sherr
2 min read
Oprah Book Club

Oprah Winfrey was one of the stars at Apple's launch event for Apple TV Plus last year.


One of Apple's most high-profile new projects for its Apple TV Plus video service has hit a snag, with Oprah Winfrey saying Friday that she'll no longer be executive producer for an untitled documentary about sexual harassment in the music industry.

The film is being created by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, who are known for The Invisible War, an Oscar-nominated 2012 documentary on sexual harassment in the military. Their new project focuses on rape allegations against music mogul Russell Simmons and is scheduled for a Jan. 25 release at the Sundance Film Festival. It's also slated to be shown on Apple TV Plus.

Winfrey said in a statement that she didn't think the film was ready for Sundance, and that creative differences ultimately led her to step aside.

"First and foremost, I want it to be known that I unequivocally believe and support the women," she said in a statement provided to CBS News and earlier published by The Hollywood Reporter. "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."

Dick and Ziering said the film is still on track to premiere later this month at Sundance. 

"The film is a beacon of hope for voices that have long been suppressed, and an inspiration for anyone wanting to regain their personal power," they said in a joint statement. "While we are disappointed that Oprah Winfrey is no longer an Executive Producer on the project, we are gratified that Winfrey has unequivocally said she believes and supports the survivors in the film."

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The move marks an unusual setback for Apple, which is known for carefully choreographing its product releases. But this is no ordinary product, either. Apple TV Plus, a $4.99 per month subscription service, is a new venture for the tech giant, aimed at helping expand the services it offers alongside its iPhones, iPads and Mac computers. The company is also offering a video game service, called Apple Arcade; a news service, called Apple News Plus; and an Apple-branded credit card. Analysts say Apple is trying to build up businesses that can weather ebbs and flows in the company's sales of iPhones, which make up about half its revenue.