‘Allen v. Farrow’ Revives Fiery Industry Debate Over Woody Allen Sexual Abuse Allegations

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Kate Aurthur
·6 min read
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If your Twitter timeline recently has been dominated by tweets about HBO’s new docu-seriesAllen v. Farrow,” you aren’t alone.

The four-part documentary from filmmakers Amy Ziering, Kirby Dick, and Amy Herdy examines what happened when 7-year-old Dylan Farrow, the daughter of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, accused her father of sexually abusing her in 1992. The saga has provoked fiery debates for nearly 30 years.

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“Allen v. Farrow,” which premiered Feb. 21 and will air subsequent episodes over the next three weeks, aims to take a new look at the allegations and their aftermath. The story is told in part through never-before-seen home movies from Mia Farrow, as well as phone calls she recorded between her and Allen in the lead-up to the 1993 custody trial in which Mia Farrow prevailed.

Allen, 85, and his wife Soon-Yi Previn, who is also Farrow’s daughter, as well as a subject of “Allen v. Farrow,” issued a statement on Sunday night after the premiere of Episode 1, saying in part: These documentarians had no interest in the truth. Instead, they spent years surreptitiously collaborating with the Farrows and their enablers to put together a hatchet job riddled with falsehoods.” The comment was sent by Allen’s current spokesperson, his sister and producer, Letty Aronson. (Read the full statement here.)

Though the lion’s share of tweets have so far praised the series and commended Dylan Farrow for coming forward again, the reactions to “Allen v. Farrow” were by no means one-sided. A 2018 blog post by Moses Farrow, one of Allen’s and Farrow’s sons, has also been widely shared. In the post, Moses Farrow told his account of the day in August 1992 when Allen allegedly sexually abused Dylan — a story that is disputed in a subsequent episode of “Allen v. Farrow.

But some people on Twitter questioned why Farrow didn’t speak out in “Allen v. Farrow.” In an interview with Variety about the first episode, the filmmakers said they had reached out to Moses, Soon-Yi, and Woody Allen, trying to get their sides of what happened, but none of them wanted to participate.

In the statement from Allen and Previn, they said that they were “approached less than two months ago and given only a matter of days ‘to respond.’ Of course, they declined to do so.”

When interviewed by Variety, Herdy had said otherwise. The producer said she began reaching out to Allen’s then-publicist, Leslee Dart, in June 2018 to try to interview him for the series. “I reached out to his rep a few times to try and interview him then — and got crickets back,” she said. “I know they got my request, because I was able to get an assistant on the phone saying, ‘You are getting my emails, right?’ And she said yes. But they never responded.”

She continued: “I made multiple attempts through multiple ways. And no response. Finally got a response back from his attorney after phone calls and emails to his attorney, his attorney said, “Your request has been forwarded.’”

One tweet from Philadelphia Magazine’s Ernest Owens questioned why HBO Max would air “Allen v. Farrow” and simultaneously stream six Woody Allen movies, five of which are collaborations with Mia Farrow: “White privilege is letting Woody Allen keep his films playing on HBO MAX, while now running a documentary about his alleged sexual abuse. He’s collecting a check, while simultaneously getting exposed on the same platform. Gross. #AllenVFarrow.”

On Monday, HBO Max indeed affirmed that the streamer has no plans to remove the titles, which include 1987’s “Radio Days” and 1984’s “Broadway Danny Rose,” telling Variety: “These titles will remain available in the library to allow viewers to make their own informed decisions about screening the work.”

When asked that same question last week, Ziering said the series’ fourth episode delves into these questions. Regarding the possible cognitive dissonance of HBO Max streaming both “Allen v. Farrow” and Allen’s movies (starring Farrow), she said, “We invite people to make their own decisions.”

Considering what appears to be a zealous response to “Allen v. Farrow,” there may be a renewed call for the actors who starred in Allen’s movies after 1992 — including A-listers such as Cate Blanchett and Timothée Chalamet — to speak again about their choices. Many of them, such as Kate Winslet recently to Variety, have expressed regret about having worked with Allen, but othersmost notably, Scarlett Johansson have defended him.

As the reactions come in, this post will continue to be updated.

Dylan Farrow thanked viewers for support.

Judd Apatow expressed confusion about Woody Allen defenders.

Nathaniel Friedman, editorial director of Wieden and Kennedy, discussed in a thread how many people are wrestling with their deep connections to Allen’s classic movies in the face of allegations as detailed as those presented in “Allen v. Farrow.”

Kathy Griffin praised “Allen v. Farrow.”

Rosie O’Donnell got into it with one of her followers, who asked what the point of it was, and then later added, “i adore mia farrow.”

Jemele Hill compared the treatment of Allen to that of Michael Jackson, who was accused of pedophilia around the same time.

While much of Hollywood has shunned Allen in recent years, he does have supporters. One of the most vocal has been director Bob Weide, who produced a 2011 “American Masters” documentary on Allen. On Monday, Weide posted a long Twitter thread slamming “Allen v. Farrow.” He questioned some of the factual assertions in the documentary and whether the filmmakers were either “half-assed researchers” or “inherently manipulative and dishonest.”

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