You can almost hear Woody Allen’s famous nasal voice in the quote attached to Amazon’s announcement that it’s signed him to create his first television series: “I don’t know how I got into this. I have no ideas and I’m not sure where to begin. My guess is that Roy Price will regret this.” It’s a typically self-deprecating joke but I’m willing to bet Price, Vice-President of Amazon Studios, really will come to regret it.
Last year, Dylan Farrow, Allen’s adoptive daughter, wrote a post, published by The New York Times, in which she accused him of sexually abusing her as a child. The accusations brought a case that began 21 years earlier back into the headlines. Farrow’s words are striking:
“What’s your favorite Woody Allen movie? Before you answer, you should know: when I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house. He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother’s electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me.”
You should read the whole thing and Allen’s own open letter to The New York Times. In it he strenuously denied the accusations as he had done many times before and suggested Farrow’s mother Mia was behind the revival of the story:
“One must ask, did Dylan even write the letter or was it at least guided by her mother? Does the letter really benefit Dylan or does it simply advance her mother’s shabby agenda? That is to hurt me with a smear. There is even a lame attempt to do professional damage by trying to involve movie stars, which smells a lot more like Mia than Dylan.”
Of course, Woody Allen has not been charged with any crime, much less been found convicted of any wrongdoing. So why should Amazon worry about employing him to create a television series? He was undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest creative film makers, though his powers are greatly diminished. But Amazon’s decision is a smack in the face for abuse survivors.
Amazon didn’t need to turn to Allen. Its Pilot Season system has produced some really interesting shows so far, many of them by relatively unknown creative teams. While it’s obviously desperate for its own House Of Cards or Orange Is The New Black breakout hit, turning to Woody Allen is an easy but stupid decision.
Signing a contract with Allen will say to abuse survivors who are Amazon customers that their experiences don’t matter. In particular, Amazon is telling Dylan Farrow that it doesn’t believe her, that her voice doesn’t matter here. Just as Netflix was wrong to commission a Bill Cosby project and right to cancel it, Amazon will soon find that not everything that comes with Woody Allen’s name is worth the money.
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