In the scorched-earth campaign to vanquish Woody Allen — a concerted effort to kill his career, destroy his reputation, to go after him with proverbial torches and pitchforks until he has no recourse except to shrivel up and play dead — the mob has spoken. Woody, 84, is a filthy child molester, the woke practitioners of street justice have declared. Damn the truth.
We should all be afraid.
This month, what would seem straightforward — publishing a memoir from a celebrated filmmaker and auteur — turned into a campaign of destruction. His new memoir, “Apropos of Nothing,” was tossed into the garbage by bosses at an imprint of Hachette Book Group like a piece of dandruff, the result of a staff revolt and — more importantly — a threat to cut ties to the publisher by Woody’s son (or Frank Sinatra’s, as Mia has suggested), the literary golden goose and #MeToo legend Ronan Farrow, 32.
The tome was resurrected last week by Arcade Publishing and released to mostly scathing reviews.
“A shallow exercise in self-pity,” decreed USA Today. Maureen Callahan, The Post’s critic at large, hilariously dubbed the book “one of the most tone-deaf, disgusting, bitter, self-pitying, horrifically unputdownable memoirs since ‘Mein Kampf.’”
After decades of being unfairly branded by some as a super villain, Harvey Weinstein meets Jack the Ripper, Woody took a rare opportunity to invite the reading public to judge if he’s a monster or a misunderstood zhlub. He issued a spirited denial of accusations he sexually abused his own daughter, Dylan, when she was a child.
And it backfired.
After slogging through the inner recesses of Woody’s mind, I found myself wishing the Woodman had never bothered to tell his story.
In the book, Woody lashes out at enemies and accusers with breathless ferocity and potent insults, then ping-pongs back to the subject he evidently loves most: himself. Much of the first half is a dull recitation of every comic, director, publicist and actor, dead or alive, with whom he’s ever shared a meal at Elaine’s or Rao’s. Then he flips into beast mode, eviscerating ex-girlfriend Mia Farrow as a disturbed and vengeful harridan bent on getting back at him.
Ultimately, the book reinforces everything there is to hate about the insufferably boastful guy who created “Annie Hall” and “Hannah and Her Sisters.” But Woody steadfastly denies the sex accusations against him. He admits only that he might have once briefly put his head in Dylan’s lap. Horrors! What normal, loving father hasn’t done something like that?
It’s doubtful that many, or any, people who participated in Woody’s professional decapitation witnessed the 1993 New York City trial in which he fought for sole custody of the three children he shared with Mia — Ronan (who previously went by the name Satchel), plus adopted daughter Dylan, now 34 (once Eliza, then Malone), and son Moses, who is 42. I was there, and it wasn’t pretty.
It quickly became clear that this was less a sober examination of the facts than a grudge match in which Mia was hellbent on punishing Woody, who had left her for her adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn, now 49. Soon-Yi married Woody in 1997 and is the mother of the couple’s two adopted daughters.
Among the disturbing revelations we learned at the time was that Mia, in the summer of ’92, videotaped the then-7-year-old Dylan, who was at times naked, over the course of two or three days. The tape was never presented in court, but was leaked to a local TV station. Some who’ve seen the video said Mia coached the reluctant child to talk about the molestation she supposedly suffered at the hands of her father — often stopping and restarting the tape in what appeared to be attempts to get the child to make the accusations Mia wanted to hear. Many observers, including me, concluded that Mia violated her own daughter’s privacy and risked mentally damaging her in a twisted ploy to make Woody pay.
But he didn’t. New York state sex-crimes investigators decided that no crime could be proven, and dropped their case against Woody.
Experts at Yale New Haven Hospital in Connecticut went as far as to suggest that Mia may have coached her daughter to lie, thereby planting a false abuse narrative in her head.
Mia’s adopted son Moses insists the allegations are preposterous.
“So many times I saw my mother try to convince her that she was abused — and it has worked,” Moses wrote on his blog. “Some day, I hope Dylan can escape from my mother, confront the truth and begin her own healing.”
The custody trial concluded with Mia retaining the kids. But most of us who experienced the spectacle believe that Mia helped emotionally cripple Dylan, and alienated her from her father. She should be ashamed.
Now the mob, acting on faulty information, has issued its verdict.
Woody Allen didn’t stand a chance. His latest film will likely never open in the United States. Some (but not all) stars have announced they won’t work with him again. Appearances have been canceled. Be afraid.
#MeToo is hungry for scalps, and there’s no telling whom the mob will come after next. Maybe someone you love. Maybe even you.