Music producer Russell Simmons, long considered a fundamental figure in the marketing of hip-hop to a global audience, announced that he would step down from his fashion and production businesses after a screenwriter said that the Def Jam Recordings co-founder sexually attacking her in 1991.
Jenny Lumet, the screenwriter daughter of the late movie director Sidney Lumet, in a Thursday Hollywood Reporter column accused Simmons of forcing himself on her in his New York apartment in 1991.
Simmons, 60, the co-founder of hip-hop label Def Jam Records and also a film producer, apologized for his behavior in a statement on his Instagram site.
“While her memory of that evening is very different from mine, it is now clear to me that her feelings of fear and intimidation are real,” Simmons said. “While I have never been violent, I have been thoughtless and insensitive in some of my relationships over many decades and I sincerely apologize.”
The statement immediately drew fire for its tone-deaf nature that appeared to dodge responsibility
Actress Olivia Munn immediately deployed what she called a “Douchebag Dictionary” to “translate” the statement, i.e. shred it apart with an astringent and justified sense of mocking anger.
“Yo Russell, your statement was a little wonky, lemme help you out,” Munn tweeted, along with a screenshot of Simmons’ statement.
“According to the Douchebag Dictionary I believe your statement translates to ― Our memories are different because I see women as disposable entertainment and Jenny thought she was a human being. Oops!”
Simmons' humiliation deepened throughout the day Thursday after HBO scrubbed his name and involvement from upcoming six-part series All Def Comedy. The stand-up comedy showcase for emerging and is due to begin airing on Friday.
"HBO will be airing All Def Comedy as planned. However, Russell Simmons will not appear in the new series and we will be removing his name from the show moving forward," the premium cable network said in a statement, adding that no other projects with Simmons are in the works.
Simmons is regarded as one of the most influential entrepreneurs in the hip-hop world. He also founded the fashion lines Phat Farm and Tantris, and co-produced films and TV shows including The Nutty Professor and Def Comedy Jam.
"The series is a platform for promising and upcoming comedians and we do not want to deprive them of an opportunity to showcase their talents to a national audience. We have no other projects with Russell Simmons," HBO added.
Simmons is the latest man occupying the highest levels of the entertainment industry who has faced accusations of gross sexual misconduct.
On Wednesday, former talk show host Geraldo Rivera tweeted that the issue was “so red hot right now there is no room for any thought or opinion but hang em high.” Later in the week, revelations that he drugged and groped actress Bette Midler before subsequently about an "affair" resurfaced.