For Part I of this interview CLICK HERE.
PM: You tweeted an offer to donate $100,000 to a charity of Ronan and Dylan Farrow’s choice if they could prove their accusations about Woody Allen. Was that just a publicity stunt?
RW: Not much of one, because I have a relatively small Twitter following. But the offer was real. I even called my accountant to make sure I could loosen up that kind of money if I had to. But I was trying to get Ronan to back up specific claims he made in a statement he put out on Twitter, all of which were entirely misleading or seemingly made up. I was asking for any documentation that could back up any of his claims. Of course, the offer met with radio silence. Too bad. If he had come through, I’m sure “Time’s Up” could have used the money.
The Farrows are not honest people. What else might they be lying about to preserve [their] image?
PM: That offer also referenced claims about a sister’s death, and Ronan’s leg surgery – things that were not part of Ronan’s statement. What were you driving at?
RW: If you Google “Tam Farrow death,” the story you get is that this sister died at the age of 21 from heart failure. That’s the official Farrow story. But in Moses’ blog post, he tells us that Tam actually committed suicide by intentionally overdosing on pills immediately following one last fight with Mia. So I was simply requesting something that would back up the heart failure story and disprove Moses’ version. Maybe cause of death was officially listed as heart failure, but it was due to the intentional overdose. The Farrows leave out that part.
Also, Ronan says in numerous interviews that he was on crutches and in a wheelchair for years because he contracted a leg infection in the Sudan doing volunteer work with his mother. But I’ve encountered a contradictory story that the numerous leg surgeries were purely cosmetic, to add a few inches to his height, which would explain the Ilizarov braces he wore for so long. Someone close to the family told me that Mia wanted the cosmetic procedure because she felt Ronan couldn’t have a career in politics if he was too short. Admittedly, this is hearsay, but if you look at before-and-after photos, he certainly had a remarkable growth spurt at this time.
PM: Okay, but even if that’s true, what does that have to do with whether or not Woody Allen abused Dylan? Aren’t you getting out in the weeds on this one?
RW: The point is that, in my opinion, the Farrows are not honest people. If Tam committed suicide, why the deception about heart failure? If Ronan had cosmetic surgery to add a few inches, that’s great. But then why the cover story about the infection contracted in the Sudan? And if these stories are designed to paint a sympathetic picture of the Farrows as a happy mixed family, what else might they be lying about to preserve that image? I was giving Ronan a chance to back up these claims by putting my money where my mouth was.
PM: You once tweeted that actors who speak out against Woody Allen will one day be as proud of their comments as those who named names during the McCarthy era.
RW: Yes, and I mean that, literally. Not just actors, but anyone in the industry who is complicit in trying to put him out of business. I know that comparing contemporary events to the McCarthy witch hunts is an overused analogy – sort of like calling everybody you don’t like a Fascist. But I do think that the anti-Woody people, certainly those in the business, are practicing a kind of neo-McCarthyism.
First of all, there is specific pressure being brought to bear on many actors to take a stand—meaning to take the so-called “correct” position of denouncing him.
PM: What do you mean by “specific pressure?”
RW: I mean I’ve spoken to actors and casting directors who have heard from surrogates in the Farrow camp, advising them not to work with Allen. In fact, after I wrote my Daily Beast piece in 2014, I received a long email from someone I’d always been friendly with — a powerful producer/director — who said I should stay out of this, that it was a private family matter and that I had no business involving myself, and that I was going to really damage my career. I laughed it off, of course, but a couple of years later, this same person became a very vocal and persistent denouncer of Allen’s. So obviously, his underlying message wasn’t really “Don’t get involved” so much as “don’t take the unpopular position.”
Someone recently sent me a link to a blog where the writer lists all the actors who have “apologized” for working with Allen, and then rates each one’s statement as to how acceptable the apology was. I’m guessing those actors with inadequate apologies were let off the hook if they named three other actors who haven’t yet apologized. But that’s how stupid this has become.
PM: I’ve noticed that some of Allen’s support has come from right-wing sites like Breitbart. What do you think that’s about?
RW: Yes, and the National Review. They’re having quite the field day with this because they can point to it as an example of blacklisting from the Left, which, of course, it is. But yeah, it does make for strange bedfellows.
But he’s also received support from Left-leaning publications like The Nation. If you move even further left, there was recently an interesting article in the World Socialist Website that expressed some serious disdain for Ronan Farrow. Apparently Ronan was doing a Q&A at the University of Michigan where a member of the Socialist Equality Party gave him a piece of his mind that reportedly left Ronan pretty shaken. So there are strong responses to these issues from all over the political spectrum. It’s heartening that some of the best think pieces advocating for Allen are written by women — many of them considered feminist writers.
(Note: Here is a very small sampling of columns by female writers with links to their works: Hadley Freeman, Catherine Shoard, JoAnn Wypijewski, JoAnne Wypijewski (2), Katie Herzog, Cathy Young, Cathy Young (2), Katie Roiphe, Janice Harper, Joan Ullman.)
PM: You once mentioned to me your theory about a shared psychology among the anti-Woody contingent.
RW: Well, I said that first of all, most of them are spectacularly ill-informed. But we covered that. You know that line, “You’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts?” So, when people say, “I think he’s a pervert,” okay, well, “That’s just, like your opinion, man,” to quote the Dude. But when someone claims that Soon-Yi was Woody’s daughter, or underage when they got involved, that’s empirically false. I have here one of my favorite anti-Woody tweets, which is fairly recent [reading]: “Woody Allen’s daughter stated that he raped her when she was 7 years old. And he has been accused of sexually molesting his 10-year-old adoptive daughter, whom he later married.”
Now, it’s hard to even begin to untangle all the things this person gets wrong, but that tweet exists in the Twittersphere with equal authority as a tweet that might say “December 25th is Christmas Day.” They’re both given equal weight. Now, it’s safe to say that the poster of that tweet wouldn’t know a fact if it smacked him on his ass. Even the Farrow camp wouldn’t stand by any part of that Tweet. In fact, Dylan never claimed to be raped, for starters. But that random tweet by some random guy got hundreds of “likes” and hundreds of re-Tweets by people who presumably accept the post as fact. I rarely get that many likes and retweets for my own posts.
Not a single brain cell shared among this crowd. Yet they currently hold the upper hand in this debate.
There’s currently another tweet making the rounds with a photo from about 10 years ago that shows Woody with his adopted daughter Bechet, who’s Asian. She’s probably about nine or ten in the photo. And the caption claims this is Woody’s adopted daughter whom he later married. Of course, in their own racist way, they’re trying to pass off this little girl in the photo as Soon-Yi. Never mind that Soon-Yi was never Woody’s adopted daughter. But people have jumped onto this, saying it shows how sick and disgusting Woody is. Not a single brain cell shared among this crowd. Yet they currently hold the upper hand in this debate.
But back to your question — the psychology. What inspires this kind of lashing out with “alternative facts,” with such conviction? No matter how you cut it, Woody Allen is a hugely successful artist. He’s an iconic figure the world over, he’s garnered a slew of Academy awards and nominations, and we can guess he’s pretty wealthy. Agreed?
RW: So what does this have to do with Joe Rando? Well, it gives Mr. Rando an opportunity to say, “I’m a better person than this famous, rich dude.” Otherwise, why would he blurt out a meaningless word salad with such confidence, and why would so many others hop onto the Imbecile Express? That tweet confusing his actual daughter with Soon-Yi has nothing to do with Dylan, so it’s beyond the realm of that debate. But putting down the famous guy makes you better than he is. I think that’s the underlying psychology. But even so-called “serious” journalists do a more benign version of the same thing. When there are major inaccuracies or a serious bias in their reporting, I’m convinced they start from the point of view that Allen is guilty, and then reverse engineer their reporting from there. Again, I think the subtext is, “I’m better than this guy, or more sensitive, or morally superior,” or whatever. Granted, this is all simply my hunch. I have no empirical evidence to back this up.
One day [Dylan] told Mia that it simply never happened.
PM: I want to go back. You said that Dylan never claimed she was raped. What is her claim exactly?
RW: Well, it’s varied over the years in the specifics, but basically her claim was that her father took her up into this attic, or crawl space actually, and fondled her. Now, I’m not being blasé about this, if it were true. But without re-stating every detail of the day in question, the conclusion of everyone tasked with investigating these events say it didn’t happen. And probably the best case against the validity of this claim can be found in Moses Farrow’s blog post, since he remembers everything with such clarity.
When Dylan wrote her essay for Nick Kristof’s NY Times column, she said her father “sexually assaulted” her. So this phrasing leaves you with the most horrible image imaginable. But when you go back to the allegations of 1992, it was always about an alleged single incident of touching, which would be bad enough if it were true. Now something Dylan says in almost every interview and every essay is that her story has been consistent throughout the years, that it’s never changed. Yet the Yale/New Haven report references her many inconsistencies at the time. But it’s also changed in recent years. Without going into graphic detail, the specifics of what Mia and Dylan say about the alleged touching in 1992, and what Dylan said in her CBS interview as an adult, are very much at odds. Further complicating this is the period in which she said none of this happened at all.
PM: As an adult, or as a child?
RW: No, as a child. Her story about what happened kept changing, and then one day she told Mia that it simply never happened. The nanny, Kristi Groteke, writes about this in her book, and even gives the date. Anyway, the poor kid had just turned seven so it only makes sense that her story would be all over the place. But why, as an adult, is she always insisting her story has never changed? That’s simply false.
Now, another issue that plays into this is the statute of limitations. You have the prosecutor, Frank Maco, ordering the Yale/New Haven investigation. They come back and say, “He didn’t do it,” literally. So then Maco issues this statement which all the anti-Woody people love to quote, which is that he feels there is “probable cause” to charge Woody, but he won’t do it because he doesn’t want to put this frail little girl through a trial, which sounds very commendable, right? Except he never says what the probable cause is. Plus, I’ve asked a lot of attorneys about this – prosecutors — who say that if a prosecutor thinks he or she can win a case, they will almost always prosecute — especially with such a serious crime as child molestation. In fact, it’s essentially their obligation to prosecute. To say you have probable cause, but then not prosecute is seen as a face-saving measure. Like, remember when Trump disbanded his Commission on Voter Fraud, “despite substantial evidence of voter fraud.” Yeah, it’s having your cake and eating it, too.
So if the statute of limitations to prosecute this crime in criminal court is, say, ten years, how frail would Dylan have been at seventeen? If this alleged event so ruined her life, why didn’t they take that probable cause and go to court and put Woody behind bars once she could handle a trial? Maybe for the same reason they didn’t do it when she was seven. As soon as that Yale/New Haven report is entered into evidence, it’s “game over.”
I have good news for Dylan… she can still file a claim against Woody in civil court.
I’ve seen plenty of people on Twitter ask, “Why doesn’t she take him to court and get a verdict and put an end to this?” Dylan’s answer is always that the statute of limitations has expired. But I have good news for Dylan which is that she can still file a claim against Woody in civil court because in Connecticut, the statute of limitations won’t expire until she turns 48. A civil suit wouldn’t put him behind bars, but she can take him for every dime he’s got.
PM: If she has a case.
RW: If she has a case. Frankly, I would love to see her do this as it would force everyone involved to testify under oath. It’s a bit different than the court of public opinion where you don’t have to be under oath to tweet or blog, and you’re never cross-examined.
PM: We’ve all learned by now what a helpful tool social media is for spreading information, but it seems equally good at spreading misinformation.
RW: The fact that there’s no editorial oversight on social media is a blessing and a curse. The advantages are obvious to anyone who’s been denied access to a conventional platform, but it’s also democratized ignorance. And people think they win an argument by re-posting someone else’s uninformed statement.
Even Dylan Farrow has fallen victim to the cut-and-paste approach to research. In one of her essays, she repeats this falsehood that Woody Allen was asked to take a lie detector test by the CT state police and he refused. Now she was barely seven at the time, so how would she know this? She doesn’t. First of all, it’s not true. I did actual old-school investigative research and found that the state police never requested a lie detector test because, first of all, it would be inadmissible in court. But the truth is Allen volunteered to take one straight away and got the most respected polygraphologist in the country – a guy named Paul Minor who set up the polygraphology program for the FBI Academy and taught it to the recruits. He was hired in some of the country’s highest profile cases: Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas, O.J. Simpson, Enron, Jon Benet Ramsey, John DeLorean, etc. So Woody takes the test and passes with flying colors and Minor flies in to show the results to the CT state police who accept his findings. In fact, I’m told they sort of glommed onto him while he was there because he was such a big-shot in the field.
So how does Dylan come to the conclusion that Woody refused to take the test? I’m guessing she cut and pasted from a column by Maureen Orth where she made the same claim. Ironically, her column was called something like “10 Undeniable Facts About Woody Allen.” I’ve read essays by a couple of bloggers who’ve actually debunked all ten of her claims. One journalist I know even contacted Orth and asked her where she got her information about the lie detector test, and I’m told Orth’s answer was predictably vague – something like “several sources.” I think she also said that Vanity Fair fact-checked her. Meanwhile, another guy I know who was at Vanity Fair at the time said that [editor] Graydon Carter practically creamed in his jeans every time they could take a pot shot at Woody Allen.
Ronan does the same thing. He’s written about how weird it was to see his father get in bed with Dylan in his underwear. First of all, no respectable father has ever been in bed with their child wearing their underwear, right? But more to the point, the last time Woody ever saw Dylan, Ronan was only four. But let’s assume he has an excellent memory and this event really upset him. Then how do you square that against the fact that Woody never lived with Mia and her kids, and in fact, never spent one night at Mia’s apartment? So where was all this bed and underwear action taking place? It’s a mystery. But the great investigative journalist said it, so it must be true. I mean, it’s not like he has a blind spot when it comes to his own family, right?
Now these examples are just little tidbits of misinformation, each only slightly damaging in their own way. But you add them all up, and it appears that there may be a legitimate case against Woody Allen. But when you examine them one by one, you’re left with a rapidly collapsing house of cards.
I can guarantee you, not one person out there is defending Allen because they’re pro-child molestation.
PM: You once said you’re able to advocate for Allen because you don’t care what strangers on social media say about you. Do you really feel that way?
RW: Yeah, of course. I’ve said that any insults about me carry as much weight as those people who insist that Obama is a Kenyan-born communist Muslim. You just smile and shake your head and scroll on. Also, I’ve been married for 20 years, I have real friends and family, and my parents loved me, so I can handle the insults. And let’s not forget that handy “mute” button.
You know, it’s funny. I’ve been working professionally since I was 22, and I’ve maintained many friendships and business relationships for a long, long time. These people know me as a pretty thoughtful, balanced guy. So the idea that I’m suddenly victim to this one huge breach with reality where I’ve lost my mind and am defending a child molester is pretty laughable.
But I’m hardly alone. There’s huge amounts of support out there for Allen. They’re generally less vocal than those screaming for his head. And some speak their support in whispers because they’re so intimidated by the current climate. But I can guarantee you, not one person out there is defending Allen because they’re pro-child molestation. They support him because they’ve considered the evidence, and they’ve reached the conclusion that the allegation does not hold up.
PM: If you came across some information that changed your mind, and convinced you that you’ve been wrong all this time, would you admit it?
RW: Oh, in a second. I mean, I’m hardly a public figure, but so many people identify me now with this issue, and I’ve stuck my neck out on so many occasions, it would be pretty irresponsible of me to change my mind and keep it to myself.
PM: Would you confront Woody?
RW: Confront? Well, I’d tell him what I knew. But Woody really has nothing to do with my position in this case. He’s never sat me down and made a case for his innocence. And I don’t support him because I admire his work. My position has come about from the research I’ve done, prior to my documentary and subsequently. I did once ask him how he manages to keep his head in the midst of all the noise, and he said, “I’m calm because I’m holding a royal flush — my innocence.” But yeah, I’d totally come forward if I found a smoking gun that turned me around. Believe me, I’ve been looking for one for a long time. But all the smoking guns I’ve found are pointed in the other direction.
I once casually asked Woody if he would sit down with Dylan, face-to-face.
PM: Where do you think this all ends?
RW: That’s a good question. One thing I know for sure, the Farrows may succeed in throwing some road blocks in Woody’s way, but they can’t stop him. A Rainy Day in New York is already due to come out in theaters overseas, and will eventually be released in the states – even if not by Amazon. He’s already prepping his next film, which he’ll shoot this summer in Spain. There may be actors who say they won’t work with him, but there are plenty of actors who will. And if Amazon stops funding his films, there are plenty of places eager to be in business with him. Maybe the awards slow down or stop, but he’s never cared about that stuff anyway.
As far as resolving this on a personal or familial level, I don’t know what it will take. I will tell you this — I once casually asked Woody if, given the opportunity, he would sit down with Dylan, face-to-face, at a place of her choosing, and give her the opportunity to confront him and say whatever she wanted to say. And he didn’t miss a beat. He said, “Of course.” Then I asked about Ronan. Same answer.
PM: Really? That’s kind of huge. Has he communicated that to them?
RW: I don’t know. I don’t think so. Maybe my saying it here will eventually find its way to them. I’d actually love to see that happen. Isn’t that what all alleged victims want, is an opportunity to confront the accused and say everything they’ve been dying to say? I mean she could scream and cry and swear at him… look him in the eye, ask him anything, tell him anything — have anyone else in the room. I’d think that would be pretty cathartic. It might not effectively change anything for her, but I don’t know what the downside would be.
PM: That’s really interesting. I wonder if she’d ever do it.
RW: I’m pretty certain she’d find an excuse not to. But I can say this — if she won’t seek justice by pursuing a civil case against him, and if she doesn’t take up an offer to confront him personally, for whatever healing value that might provide, then maybe this whole thing was never really about justice or healing in the first place.
Robert B. Weide is an Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker whose documentaries have covered the Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields, Mort Sahl, Lenny Bruce, Woody Allen, and Kurt Vonnegut. He was also the Executive Producer and director of the HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm. He tweets at @BobWeide.