Oprah Winfrey said Friday that Russell Simmons attempted to pressure her about her involvement with a documentary in which several women detail sexual abuse allegations against the rap mogul, but his efforts were not what prompted her to leave the project.
"He did reach out multiple times and attempted to pressure me," Winfrey told The Associated Press through a spokesperson on Friday. It was not anything Simmons said that prompted Winfrey to withdraw from the "On the Record" film, according to Winfrey, but rather inconsistencies in the story of one of Simmons' accusers, Drew Dixon, that she felt needed to be addressed.
Winfrey has said she wanted to delay the release of the film, which is scheduled to premiere Jan. 25 at the Sundance Film Festival, but that view was not shared by the film's directors.
Winfrey herself has spoken openly of been sexually abused. She said Friday that she still believes Dixon and other women in the film, but that more reporting was needed. "On the Record" directors Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering have said they have ample evidence against Simmons, a co-founder of Def Jam Recordings.
Winfrey announced she was leaving as executive producer on Jan. 10, saying that more work was needed and that and the filmmakers were "not aligned" in their "creative vision." The film's producers, Impact Partners, said in a statement earlier this week that the movie was "ready for Sundance."
"We have always championed the voices of those who have been wrongly silenced. The women in this film have made a great sacrifice by coming forward to tell their stories in their own words. We are honored to support them," the Impact statement reads. "We stand firmly behind the work of the intrepid filmmakers who continue to break new ground by advancing important stories in the public interest."
The AP does not typically name alleged victims of sexual abuse, but Dixon has told her story publicly, including on CBS This Morning earlier this week.
The communications between Winfrey and Simmons and her concerns about Dixon's story were first reported by The New York Times.
Simmons has denied any wrongdoing. His representative did not immediately comment on an AP inquiry Friday.
Speaking to The Associated Press on Friday, Winfrey disputed allegations by the makers of "On the Record" that she gave them little warning before her Jan. 10 announcement. In a story which ran early Friday, Dick and Ziering told The Hollywood Reporter that they received just 20 minutes notice before Winfrey issued her statement.
"It was very disappointing and upsetting," Ziering told The Hollywood Reporter. "We were concerned about the survivors and what the hell this is going to do to them. That was our first thought. 'Oh my God. Let's tell everybody and figure this out.'"
Winfrey told the AP that Dick and Ziering knew well of her intentions. She said she had raised concerns last month about the film needing more work. According to Winfrey, she told Dick and Ziering that "new information" had made her see gaps she "thought needed to be filled" and that it was better to "take a rest."
"They said they would go on with or without me," Winfrey told the AP. She said the bottom line for her was that "The film isn't ready."
Scarlett Johansson, Sterling K. Brown and Taika Waititi will be up for Screen Actors Guild Awards and also handing them out at Sunday's ceremony.
They're part of a new batch of SAG Awards presenters announced Friday, along with Roman Griffin Davis, Jason Bateman, Lili Reinhart and Kaitlyn Dever.
They'll join previously announced presenters including Lupita Nyong'o and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, as well as Leonardo DiCaprio, who will present the SAG Life Achievement Award to Robert De Niro.
Most of the presenters are also nominees. Johansson is nominated for best actress in a film for "Marriage Story," best supporting actress in a film for "Jojo Rabbit" and best cast in a film along with her "Jojo Rabbit" co-stars Waititi and Davis.
Brown, a four-time SAG Award winner, is nominated for best actor in a television drama for "This Is Us."
The 26th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will be held Sunday at 8 p.m. EST at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.
Elizabeth Warren accused Bernie Sanders of calling her a liar before a national television audience during a tense, post-debate exchange in which she refused to shake his outstretched hand, according to audio released by CNN.
The Democratic presidential rivals are strong progressives who had steadfastly refused to attack each other for more than a year on the campaign trail. But that changed Monday, when Warren said that, during a private meeting between the two in 2018, he disagreed with her that a woman could win the presidency.
Sanders, a senator from Vermont, has denied that, and did so again during Tuesday night's presidential debate, which was hosted by CNN and the Des Moines Register and held in Iowa, whose first-in-the-nation caucuses are Feb. 3. Warren stood by her account and said it was time to confront the larger issues of sexism in politics.
That exchange lasted only a few minutes. But after the debate was over, Warren, a Massachusetts senator, approached Sanders, who put out his hand for her to shake. Instead, she confronted him, and the two talked briefly in tense tones.
Neither campaign would confirm what was said Tuesday night, but CNN released the audio Wednesday. As she is refusing his extended hand, Warren repeats, "I think you called me a liar on national TV." Sanders gently brushes her with his hand, then says, "Let's not do it right now."
"You want to have that discussion?" he continues. "We'll have that discussion." Warren replies, "Anytime."
Sanders then adds, "You called me a liar," before concluding, "All right, let's not do it now."
The exchange was interrupted by fellow candidate and environmentalist Tom Steyer, who said, "I don't want to get in the middle of it" and greeted Sanders as the senator walked away. In Las Vegas on Wednesday, Steyer said his attempt to offer a greeting and thanks to both senators turned awkward.
"Look, what goes on between those two senators is between them. You know, that's really a private matter, which is why I wouldn't comment on it before. I honestly think it's between them," he said.
Warren's and Sanders' aides have for days attempted to de-escalate the feud as some progressives worry that ill will between the cause's two leading voices will ultimately hurt both of them and could benefit more moderate Democratic presidential hopefuls like former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Release of the audio is likely to ensure the political fight continues — at least for now.
Priyanka Chopra Jonas will star opposite Richard Madden in the U.S. edition of "Citadel," a drama series to be produced in conjunction with programs from several other countries.
"The idea is to create a truly global, action-packed spy series," Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke said. "It's a totally innovative, multifaceted international approach to storytelling, and we can't wait to tell you more as it comes together."
Local-language productions are being done in Italy and India, with another announced Tuesday in Mexico. Amazon called the U.S. version the "mothership" of the project, with production set to begin this summer.
Film star Chopra Jonas was in the ABC TV series "Quantico." Madden starred in the award-winning BBC and Netflix series "Bodyguard."
The other "Citadel" productions will "enhance the experience of engaging with the show," Salke said. Further details and release dates were not announced.
Also announced by the streaming service during its presentation at a TV critics meeting:
— Meagan Good is among the stars of an upcoming Amazon comedy from "Girls Trip" creator Tracy Oliver.
The untitled, half-hour series revolves around four African American college friends in pursuit of their dreams, the streaming service said.
Good ("Star," "Think Like a Man") plays the "stylish, sunny" Camille, who teaches an anthropology course on sex and love at Columbia University. Also starring are Grace Byers ("Empire"), Jerrie Johnson ("Good Trouble") and Shoniqua Shandai ("I Am the Night").
Byers plays trust-fund baby and fashion designer Quinn; Shandai portrays aspiring singer Angie and Johnson plays Tye, described as "an alpha fierce, queer successful app developer."
The series reunites Oliver with "Girls Trip" director Malcolm D. Lee, who will direct the first two episodes. Pharrell Williams is joining the show's executive producers, which include Oliver and Amy Poehler,
— Amazon is touting the cast of a new "The Lord of the Rings" series as multi-generational actors "from around the globe," including British-Iranian actress Nazanin Boniadi and Australian actor-musician Tom Budge.
But the streaming service declined to say which characters — or the races — they or other cast members announced Tuesday will be playing. Other details of the production also are being kept under wraps but "everything is moving forward," Salke said.
The series will "explore new storylines" preceding J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Fellowship of the Ring," Amazon said.
Other actors in the series based on Tolkien's works include Joseph Mawle, who played Benjen Stark on "Game of Thrones," Morfydd Clark ("His Dark Materials") and Ismael Cruz Cordova ("Ray Donovan," Mary Queen of Scots").
ZEE5, the digital entertainment destination, is going to start local production in Bangladesh with the release of a new movie, web series and a talent hunt event.
The official announcement was made at a programme held at a city hotel on Tuesday.
Archana Anand, chief business officer of ZEE5 Global, one of the biggest online-based platforms, shared some of their plans and initiatives taken especially for Bangladesh in deep collaboration with key local partners.
She said the launch of ZEE5's first Bangladeshi originals (a web series and movie being produced in partnership with local production house Asiatic's Good Company and to be released within few months and will have all local star cast.
Bangladesh is in fact the very first market in which ZEE5 is rolling out its local content production, she said.
A romantic movie titled 'Jodi..Kintu..Tobuo' directed by Shihab Shaheen will take the audience on a journey of what happens when a groom gets cold feet before his weeding day while the web series 'Contract' based on a novel written by Mohammad Najim Uddin is another original series directed by Kriahnendu and Tanim and will be a cat and mouse thriller about a contact killer, a police cop and an underworld don.
Alongside, ZEE5 also shared details of its upcoming talent hunt titled Bangladesh's Global Superstar to be launched within January while this talent hunt will give an opportunity to conquer the OTT entertainment industry with a chance to feature in ZEE5 originals.
Participants will have to upload their audience auditions on the brand's website www.global-superstar along with some basic details about themselves.
The platform is also planning to open an office in Bangladesh to reach the local talent in the global stage, Archana Anand said.
Commenting on the announcement, CEO of ZEE International and ZEE5 Global said localisation is a very key part of their agenda this year as they look to establish deeper relationship with markets.
The platform launched across 190+ countries in October, 2018 and has content across 17 languages.
ZEE5 also offers 60+ popular Live TV channels.