Oprah Winfrey has dropped contributions by the hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons from her latest book, its publisher said, after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct, including rape.
“The Wisdom of Sundays,” a spiritual advice book that has been on best-seller lists since its publication last fall, features selections from conversations between Ms. Winfrey and her guests on “Super Soul Sunday,” a TV series on the OWN network. The words of motivational speakers, religious leaders and authors including Deepak Chopra and Elizabeth Gilbert were excerpted. Mr. Simmons was featured in passages describing the impact meditation has had on his life, as well as musing on the soul, abundance and wealth; future editions of the book, available in stores starting in February, will not contain those segments, Marlena Bittner, a spokeswoman for the publisher, Flatiron Books, said.
The publisher made the announcement in response to an inquiry from The New York Times. Ms. Bittner said the decision to remove the pages was made jointly by Ms. Winfrey and the publisher, but declined to say when they made that choice. Ms. Winfrey has lately been a vocal advocate of the #MeToo movement, making a fiery speech promoting Time’s Up, the Hollywood initiative to combat sexual harassment and discrimination, at the Golden Globes in early January. In the book, she also writes about being a victim and coming to terms with her own abuse by learning to confront it. “You can’t win,” she wrote, “if you’re fighting the truth.”
Mr. Simmons has been the subject of intensifying misconduct allegations since last November; he has denied all the allegations but stepped down from his businesses and foundation soon after they were made public. Last week, a California woman, Jennifer Jarosik, filed a $5 million lawsuit against him, alleging that he raped her in Los Angeles in 2016. On Tuesday, Ms. Jarosik appeared on “Megyn Kelly Today” and described the incident as well as an earlier assault by Mr. Simmons in New York. She plans to press criminal charges in both cities, her attorney said. The police in New York began an investigation into the allegations against Mr. Simmons last year.
Mr. Simmons was also excised from another new self-help book, by the streetwear entrepreneur and “Shark Tank” judge Daymond John. In an appearance on “The Wendy Williams Show” last week, Mr. John said Mr. Simmons called him and suggested that he edit out Mr. Simmons’s advice from the book, “Rise and Grind,” lest he distract from its motivational message.
Mr. John said that “it was a hard decision to take him out of the book,” which had already been printed in galley form when the change was made.
“Russell is somebody that I’ve admired for years,” he said. “I saw him as a successful person.”
SOURCE: MELENA RYZIK
The New York Times