Russell Simmons' name scrubbed from All Def Comedy amid sexual misconduct allegations
HBO is moving forward with its new stand-up series All Def Comedy — but without the show’s creator, Russell Simmons, who announced Thursday morning he is stepping down from his businesses amid multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.
“HBO will be airing All Def Comedy as planned,” a spokesperson for the premium cable network said in a statement to EW. “However, Russell Simmons will not appear in the new series and we will be removing his name from the show moving forward. 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.”
The HBO statement added, “We have no other projects with Russell Simmons.”
Originating as a one-off special that aired earlier this month, the All Def Comedy series comprises six half-hour episodes and is set to premiere Dec. 1.
Simmons is a veteran music and TV producer with a long history with HBO. His Def Comedy Jam originally ran on the network from 1992 to 1997, helped launch the careers of several black comedians, and was revived for a spell in 2006.
In recent weeks, multiple women have accused Simmons of sexual misconduct. Keri Claussen Khalighi, a model, alleged that Simmons forced her to have sex in 1991. Simmons told the Los Angeles Times that “everything that occurred between Keri and me occurred with her full consent and participation.”
Another woman, Tanya Reid, accused Simmons of pressuring her in 1994 to participate in sexual acts with director Brett Ratner, who has been accused by multiple women of sexual assault and harassment. (Ratner has denied the allegations.) In a statement about Reid’s allegations, Simmons told the Los Angeles Times, “I mean no disrespect to her when I say I do not recall a conversation with a hotel front desk clerk over a quarter of a century ago.”
On Thursday, screenwriter Jenny Lumet accused Simmons of coercing her into having sex in 1991, detailing her allegations in an essay published in the Hollywood Reporter. In a statement, Simmons apologized but said he had a different “memory” of his and Lumet’s encounter. “It is now clear to me that her feelings of fear and intimidation are real,” he said. “While I have never been violent, I have been thoughtless and insensitive in some of my relationships over many decades and I sincerely and humbly apologize.”
Simmons added that he was stepping down from the companies he founded because he doesn’t want to be a “distraction.”