HBO, which has had a long-standing relationship with Russell Simmons, is distancing itself from the discarded mogul after he has been hit by sexual assault allegations.
“HBO will be airing All Def Comedy as planned,” the network said in a statement to Deadline. “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. We have no other projects with Russell Simmons.”
Simmons has been under an overall deal with HBO since 2015, but his relationship with premium cabler dates back to 1992, when he co-created Def Comedy Jam, the landmark series that helped discover Jamie Foxx, Chris Tucker, Martin Lawrence, Bernie Mac, Dave Chappelle, Kevin Hart and others. In 2002 Simmons launched the Peabody Award-winning Def Poetry Jam. HBO aired an All Def Comedy one-off special in November as part of Simmons’ overall deal, and picked up Simmons’ All Def Comedy stand-up series for a six-episode season to premiere in December.
Simmons announced Thursday morning that he was stepping away from his companies after a new accusation was leveled by screenwriter Jenny Lumet. In a guest column for THR, Lumet, in graphic detail alleged that Simmons sexually assaulted her in 1991. Simmons had been named previously in an alleged assault against former model Keri Claussen Khalighi that also involved his longtime friend Brett Ratner. Lumet came forward with her story after Simmons denied Khalighi’s accusation.
Netflix is currently streaming Simmons’ Def Comedy Jam 25 Special, which marks the 25th anniversary of the influential Def Comedy Jam series.
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