Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This


HBO Max Releases Controversial Russell Simmons Documentary

Sexual Assault Survivor Drew Dixon attends the 2020 Sundance Film Festival - "On The Record" Premiere at The Marc Theatre on January 25, 2020 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)
Before you
Dear reader, we're asking you to help us keep local news available for all. Your tax-deductible financial support keeps our stories free to read, instead of hidden behind paywalls. We believe when reliable local reporting is widely available, the entire community benefits. Thank you for investing in your neighborhood.

If you know anything about the new documentary On The Record, it’s that it’s about sexual assault allegations against hip hop mogul Russell Simmons and that Oprah Winfrey was once involved. Both of those things are true but that’s not the whole story.

The movie focuses on three of Simmons’ accusers (the media mogul was accused of rape by three women), but it’s also about the dilemma that many black women find themselves in, when choosing between protecting black men – who are notoriously mistreated by the law – and speaking out about sexual abuse.

Oprah was initially signed on as an executive producer for the film, but she dropped out days before its Sundance debut.

She told CBS News that she was not bowing to pressure by Simmons and that she believes the women. But her departure was devastating to Drew Dixon, the former Def Jam Records producer at the center of On The Record. She told KPCC/LAist:

Support for LAist comes from
“It was terrifying to go to Sundance not knowing if the people [there] would be the only people who would ever see this film, and [that] we would be misunderstood as survivors by our community because no one would ever get to see that this film was really meant to lift up black women who love black men– not to tear anyone down.”

When the film got rave reviews at Sundance and a deal with HBO, Dixon found she didn’t need to “hide behind Oprah”.

But when asked whether or not Oprah Winfrey failed her, Dixon had this to say:

“Oprah Winfrey disappointed me but I don’t know that she was in a position to fail me, because she’s not responsible for me… I certainly would never question the obligations she has to consider when making her choices.”

On The Record is now streaming on HBO's new streaming platform, HBO Max, which launched yesterday.

Hear the full conversation with Drew Dixon and filmmaker Amy Ziering here:

Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily newsletters. To support our nonprofit public service journalism: Donate now.