Russell Simmons’ name has been removed from HBO’s “All Def Comedy” following a new accusation of sexual assault from screenwriter Jenny Lumet.
“HBO will be airing ‘All Def Comedy’ as planned,” the network said in a statement. “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 network continued. “We have no other projects with Russell Simmons.”
One day before the six-part stand-up series was slated to debut on Friday, Lumet penned a guest blog in the Hollywood Reporter accusing the prolific music and TV producer of using force and intimidation to get her back to his apartment, where she said he assaulted her.
The mogul was has also been accused by former model Keri Claussen Khalighi of sexually assaulting her when she was 17.
In a statement in response to Lumet’s essay, Simmons apologized for his behavior with the added caveat that “her memory of that evening is very different from mine.” The Def Jam Records co-founder said he’d be stepping down from his businesses in order to avoid being a “distraction.”
“All Def Comedy” was ordered to series after HBO, where Simmons had been under an overall deal since 2015, debuted one installment as a one-off special in November.
HBO and Simmons had previously collaborated on the landmark series “Def Comedy Jam,” which helped to launch the careers of Jamie Foxx, Chris Tucker, Martin Lawrence, Bernie Mac, Dave Chappelle and Kevin Hart, among others.
The other executive producers on “All Def Comedy” are director Stan Lathan, Chris Conti and Jeru Tillman. Among the comedians slated to appear on the series are Deon Cole, DeRay Davis, Gary Owen and JJ Williamson.