Prolific film legend stained by scandal
(The Freeman) - January 20, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Woody Allen, the director and four-time Oscar winner known for his comedies rife with neurotic characters, is in the crosshairs of America’s sexual harassment watershed over decades-old claims that he molested his daughter.

The 82-year-old New Yorker – who averages a movie a year, clocking up more than 50 titles total – is considered a comic genius by fans and envied by fellow filmmakers for wresting freedom from studios, though he is not always adored by critics.

For more than 25 years, unproven allegations that he molested his adopted daughter when she was seven – as well as a relationship with his ex-lover’s adopted daughter from a previous marriage – have colored a career now more lauded in Europe than at home.

Born Allen Konigsberg on December 1, 1935, to a New York family of second generation Jewish immigrants, Allen spent much of his Brooklyn childhood alone in his room, practicing magic tricks or playing the clarinet.

He was reportedly hired while a teenager to write one-liners for well-known comedians, and then kicked out of film studies at New York University. He worked as a stand-up comic and wrote for television in the late 1950s and early 1960s before moving into film.

“From the beginning, I dreamed of being Godard, Fellini, Truffaut or Resnais. Together with Bergman and Antonioni, these are the filmmakers who made me want to do this job,” he told French weekly Le Nouvel Observateur in 2014.

As a screenwriter, actor and director, he has won four Oscars and been nominated an astonishing 20 times in a career that has often blurred with his personal life.

It was with one-time partner Diane Keaton that he made some of his most popular films, including romantic comedies “Annie Hall” and “Manhattan.”

Insensitive

Then Mia Farrow, with whom Allen had a 12-year relationship, appeared in 13 of his movies, including “Hannah and Her Sisters” – one of his greatest commercial successes.

But their relationship exploded in 1992 when Farrow discovered Allen had a stash of nude photographs of Soon-Yi, whom she had adopted during a previous marriage to pianist Andre Previn. Soon-Yi was 21 at the time.

Allen and Soon-Yi married and are still together. They have two children.

But in the midst of the toxic custody battle, Dylan Farrow claimed he had sexually assaulted her.

A New York judge ruled the allegations inconclusive, but lambasted the director as “self-absorbed, untrustworthy and insensitive.”

Allen has always denied the claims and continued to work with generations of A-lister – recently with Kate Winslet and Justin Timberlake for his 2017 movie “Wonder Wheel.”

Showered with awards in Europe, Allen once described his relationship with Hollywood as love-contempt. He has regularly accused studios of pandering to the lowest common denominator and being driven by purely commercial concerns.

Witch hunt

Online giant Amazon has bankrolled recent movies and commissioned television series “Crisis in Six Scenes” starring Miley Cyrus.

But the sexual harassment firestorm, fueled by a bombshell expose of alleged rape and other abuses by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, written by Allen’s biological son, has seen a growing number of actors say they will no longer work with the director.

The Washington Post this month published an article claiming that Allen’s 57-year personal archives at Princeton University show jottings filled with misogynist and lecherous comments, and an obsession with teenage girls.

Actors have recently spoken out in support of Dylan Farrow. Selena Gomez, Rebecca Hall and Timothee Chalamet have donated their salaries from his movies to charities.

First TV interview

In her first televised interview, Dylan Farrow described in detail Allen’s alleged sexual assault of her, and called actors who work in his films “complicit” in perpetuating a “culture of silence.”

Farrow appeared in a taped interview Thursday on “CBS This Morning.” Farrow recounted the 1992 incident in which she said Allen molested her in her mother’s Connecticut home.

“With so much silence being broken by so many brave people against so many high-profile people, I felt it was important to add my story to theirs because it’s something I’ve struggled with for a long time,” Farrow said. “It was very momentous for me to see this conversation finally carried into a public setting.”

Farrow, now 32, described being taken to a crawl space by Allen.

“He instructed me to lay down on my stomach and play with my brother’s toy train that was set up,” she said. “And he sat behind me in the doorway, and as I played with the toy train, I was sexually assaulted.”

In a statement Thursday, Allen reiterated his denial and said “the Farrow family is cynically using the opportunity afforded by the Time’s Up movement to repeat this discredited allegation.”

“I never molested my daughter — as all investigations concluded a quarter of a century ago,” Allen said.

After a seven-month investigation, a team of child-abuse specialists at Yale-New Haven Hospital concluded Dylan was not been molested. The doctor leading the investigation, John M. Leventhal, later said in a sworn statement that he theorized Dylan either invented the story or had it planted in her mind by her mother.

But Connecticut state attorney Frank Maco says there was “probable cause” to charge Allen with molesting Dylan and that police had drawn up an arrest warrant, but that he decided not to pursue the case, in part because it would traumatize Dylan.

Allen noted that Dylan’s older brother Moses has said he witnessed their mother coaching Dylan. “It seems to have worked — and, sadly, I’m sure Dylan truly believes what she says,” said Allen. Farrow’s younger brother Ronan Farrow, who has written several exposes for The New Yorker on Harvey Weinstein, has supported Dylan’s claims.

Dylan first spoke publicly about the incident in a 2013 Vanity Fair article and a 2014 open letter to The New York Times. On CBS, she called Allen’s version of events — that a distraught Mia Farrow coached her story — “crazy.”

“What I don’t understand is how this crazy story of me being brainwashed and coached is more believable than what I’m saying about being sexually assaulted by my father,” Farrow said on CBS.

Dylan now lives married with a 16-month-old daughter in Connecticut. When a clip from a 1992 “60 Minutes” interview of Allen denying the allegation was played, Farrow began crying.

“He’s lying, and he’s been lying for so long. And it’s difficult for me to see him and hear his voice,” Farrow said.

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