Kate AurthurSun, 28 March 2021, 5:41 pm
In Woody Allen’s first interview on American television in nearly 30 years, conducted in July and released Sunday on streamer Paramount Plus, the filmmaker again denies that he ever sexually abused his daughter Dylan Farrow.
The interview, conducted by CBS News correspondent Lee Cowan for “CBS Sunday Morning,” skims the surface of the decades-old allegations against Allen. The interview took place last summer, but was held and released on the heels of the March 14 conclusion of the four-part HBO docuseries “Allen v. Farrow,” which once again put Farrow’s accusations into the spotlight. Allen did not take part in that series.
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The 35-minute program, packaged with Gayle King’s 2018 interview with Dylan Farrow from “CBS This Morning,” also includes a new segment from “Sunday Morning” correspondent Erin Moriarty about how art should be evaluated when artists have been accused of reprehensible behavior. The centerpiece interview with Allen is mostly a rehash of the arguments that the director, now 85, has made in his defense since the allegation went public when Dylan was 7.
On Sunday morning, Variety asked Allen’s spokesperson, his sister and producer Letty Aronson, whether CBS News had told Allen’s camp that the delayed interview was going to be packaged with the interview with Dylan Farrow and put on Paramount Plus.
“No,” Aronson answered. “It’s completely dishonest and scandalous. I hope future people will consider this before trusting the show.”
A few hours later, Aronson emailed again: “I just wanted to clarify my statement as to the timeframe I was referring to. When the cbs morning show was taped we were told it was about his career and book. At that time nothing was said about doing a program with cutting back and forth concerning the absurd controversy. It was on that basis that we agreed to do the show. It was only recently we found out that they were incorporating Dylan when it went on paramount.”
In the interview, Allen, as ever, denies the specific allegations made by Dylan Farrow, insisting that they were encouraged her mother Mia Farrow, who was angry at the breakup of her 12-year relationship with Allen. He and Mia Farrow had a bitter public split in 1992 after Mia discovered that Allen was having an affair with her adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn, who has been married to Allen since 1997.
“It’s so preposterous, and yet the smear has remained and they still prefer to cling to if not the notion that I molested Dylan, then the possibility that I molested her,” Allen tells Cowan. “Nothing that I ever did with Dylan in my life could be misconstrued as that.”
Cowan introduces the interview by saying that Allen had once been revered, but that “today, Woody Allen is reviled by many.” After saying how rare interviews with Allen are, Cowan adds: “Some months ago, Woody Allen released a book, and we were offered an opportunity to talk with him on the patio of his Manhattan townhouse. To be honest, the swirling controversy, the storm of opinion, both pro and con, we gave careful consideration whether to do this interview at all. But you’re about to see it. Whether or not you believe Woody Allen, whether or not you even like him, we hope you’ll at least want to hear what he has to say.”
Allen’s defensiveness in the face of the magnitude of Dylan Farrow’s allegations and the origins of his relationship with Soon-Yi comes off as callous and indifferent.
“There was no logic to it on the face of it,” Allen says of Dylan Farrow’s accusations. He also downplays his relationship with Mia Farrow: “I never lived with Mia, I never slept at Mia’s house in all of the years I went out with her. We had a relationship, but it was never going to be a marital relationship.”
“Allen v. Farrow” explicitly contradicted these asserations that Allen has made for years, showing in footage and through interviews with Mia Farrow’s children how much Allen was a father figure to all of them.
When Cowan presses him about his relationship with Soon-Yi Previn and its origins, Allen says, “It got known before we were ready to make it known,” referring to when Mia Farrow found explicit photos of Previn in Allen’s house. “Allen v. Farrow” presents witnesses who assert that the sexual relationship with Previn began when she was still in high school, instead of after she’d begun college, but since this interview took place in July, Cowan wasn’t able to press Allen on those questions.
Cowan does point out that Allen isn’t apologetic about the situation in his memoir, “Apropos of Nothing,” and Allen says, “No, I never felt — yes, I did feel — the last thing in the world that anybody wanted was to hurt anybody’s feelings.”
Cowan also asks him whether it was appropriate for him to begin a relationship with Farrow’s daughter: “No, there was never a moment that it wasn’t the most natural thing in the world,” Allen says of Soon-Yi. “No, it didn’t give me pause. The relationship with Soon-Yi was very natural.”
He also offers as evidence of his innocence the fact that he and Soon-Yi were allowed to adopt two girls who are now adults. “They don’t give two baby girls to someone they think is a pedophile,” Allen says.
Allen calls Dylan Farrow “a good kid” and insists she’s been coaxed into imagining the abuse. In “Allen v. Farrow,” numerous Farrow family members and friends attest to witnessing disturbing encounters between Allen and Dylan, which she describes during her interview with King — that Allen was relentlessly attached to her, and would also ask her to get into bed with him when he was in his underwear.
“She was a good kid,” Allen tells Cowan. “I believe she thinks it. I don’t believe she’s making it up. She’s not lying. I believes she believes that.”
Cowan asks Allen what the filmmaker thinks about actors who in recent years have publicly expressed regrets about working with him. “I think they’re foolish, Allen says. “They’re well-meaning, but they’re foolish. All they’re doing is persecuting a perfectly innocent person, and they’re enabling this lie.”
The segment glosses over the fact that Allen’s filmmaking career in the U.S. is effectively over. “A Rainy Day in New York,” which Amazon dropped in 2018 after deeming it unreleasable in the wake of the revived #MeToo movement, premiered in Europe in 2019 and had a tiny release in the U.S. last year. Cowan says that Allen has even completed its follow-up, “Rifkin’s Festival,” which is also unlikey to get a significant theatrical release.
Allen professes not to care, he says.
“Do I care that some guy sitting home, or some woman, saying, ‘I don’t care what investigators say, I still believe he’s a pedophile’? It’s as meaningful as a person sitting home saying, ‘I believe him, and he’s a wonderful person, and he’s gotten a raw deal.’ That and 15 cents gets me on the subway.”
Cynthia Littleton contributed to this report. This story has been updated with comments from Woody Allen’s spokesperson, Letty Aronson.