Ronan Farrow is speaking out about the adulation that his father, Woody Allen, still receives in Hollywood. In a lengthy guest column posted to the Hollywood Reporter, Roman, the son of Allen and Mia Farrow, wrote that his father’s PR machine kicked in as soon as his sister, Dylan, alleged that Allen molested her as a child. Ronan says that despite the damning allegations against Woody, he is still regarded as a highly respected film director. Allen also recently received a lifetime achievement award from the Golden Globes and was courted by Amazon to develop a scripted series.
Farrow, a Rhodes Scholar who graduated from Bard College at age 15 and finished Yale Law School at age 21, drew comparisons between his father’s sex abuse allegations and comedian Bill Cosby’s. Indeed, Ronan Farrow interviewed Bill Cosby’s biographer in 2014, and he was told he couldn’t ask any question about why the rape allegations against the TV legend weren’t mentioned in the book. Two years later, the Cosby story blew up, and the number of the actor’s accusers has risen dramatically. Farrow now says he is ashamed of his interview because he didn’t ask the questions that he knew needed to be addressed.
But while Cosby’s career has taken a major hit in the past year, the same can’t be said for Woody Allen. Ronan is slamming the Cannes Film Festival for opening with Allen’s film, Café Society, and he called out Hollywood stars, including Louis C.K., Miley Cyrus, Kristen Stewart, Blake Lively, Steve Carell, and Jesse Eisenberg, who continue to work with his father.
Ronan Farrow revealed that he has always believed his sister’s allegations against their father and that years later it hurts her that some of her Hollywood idols are looking the other way and continuing to work with him.
When Dylan Farrow penned her scathing essay about Woody Allen for the New York Times in 2015, she also called out Hollywood stars who continue to work with him. Among the names Dylan Farrow mentioned in her open later were Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Emma Stone, Scarlett Johansson, and Diane Keaton. In response, Allen’s attorney, Elkan Abramowitz, appeared on the Today Show and said Dylan had been brainwashed by her mother, Mia Farrow, after Woody left her for Soon-Yi Previn, Mia’s adopted daughter.
“She was a pawn in a huge fight between him and Mia Farrow years ago, and the idea that she was molested was implanted in her by her mother,” Abramowitz said. “That memory is never going to go away … In my view, she’s not lying. I think she truly believes this happened. When you implant a story in a fragile 7-year-old’s mind, it stays there forever. It never goes away.”
But in his essay, Ronan Farrow says that even as a young child, he was very aware of his father’s bizarre behavior around Dylan.
“Even at 5 years old, [I] was troubled by our father’s strange behavior around her: climbing into her bed in the middle of the night, forcing her to suck his thumb—behavior that had prompted him to enter into therapy focused on his inappropriate conduct with children prior to the allegations,” Ronan wrote.
While his sister’s essay about their father was written shortly before Cosby’s story exploded two years ago, Ronan says Woody Allen’s PR machine “revved into action” to discredit her version of events. As a news journalist, Ronan was privy to countless emails churned out by Woody’s publicist, who curated careful talking points for all members of the news media.
“Every day, colleagues at news organizations forwarded me the emails blasted out by Allen’s powerful publicist, who had years earlier orchestrated a robust publicity campaign to validate my father’s sexual relationship with another one of my siblings,” Ronan wrote. “Those emails featured talking points ready-made to be converted into stories, complete with validators on offer — therapists, lawyers, friends, anyone willing to label a young woman confronting a powerful man as crazy, coached, vindictive.”
The PR spin machine is so fierce that Ronan Farrow said his sister was turned away by some major publications when she first wrote her essay about Woody. The New York Times ultimately ran the essay, but it was embedded into an online blog written by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Nicholas Kristof, an advocate for victims of sexual abuse. The Times went on to give Woody Allen equal time — actually, more than equal time, as his response was allotted twice the space and a plum spot in the print edition of the iconic newspaper with no surrounding text to distract from it.
Ronan Farrow says that while he always believed his sister’s story, he wasn’t always supportive of her to come forward with it. When Dylan penned her essay, Ronan was working on a book and a television series and admits he didn’t want the negative attention.
“Initially, I begged my sister not to go public again and to avoid speaking to reporters about it. I’m ashamed of that, too,” Ronan wrote. “With sexual assault, anything’s easier than facing it in full, saying all of it, facing all of the consequences.”
Farrow says he ultimately realized that his sister was right to come forward but acknowledged that the stigma about speaking out against a powerful man is still there.
“Amazon paid millions to work with Woody Allen, bankrolling a new series and film. Actors, including some I admire greatly, continue to line up to star in his movies. ‘It’s not personal,’ one once told me. But it hurts my sister every time one of her heroes like Louis C.K., or a star her age, like Miley Cyrus, works with Woody Allen. Personal is exactly what it is — for my sister, and for women everywhere with allegations of sexual assault that have never been vindicated by a conviction.”
Ronan Farrow’s powerful essay comes just in time for Woody Allen’s opening showing at Cannes. But Ronan knows that on the red carpet, not one reporter will dare to ask his estranged dad or his adoring movie stars the questions that need to be asked.
“There will be press conferences and a red-carpet walk by my father and his wife (my sister),” Ronan wrote. “He’ll have his stars at his side —they can trust that the press won’t ask them the tough questions. It’s not the time, it’s not the place, it’s just not done.”
Take a look at the video below for more on Ronan Farrow’s message to Hollywood stars.
[Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images]