Woody Allen Memoir Dropped by Hachette After Staff Walkout

Woody Allen San Sebastian - Getty - H 2019
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The book's French publisher intends to go ahead with Allen's memoirs despite a U.S protest from Hachette employees, saying "Woody Allen is not Roman Polanski."

Hachette canceled the planned publication of Allen's memoir Apropos of Nothing after staff staged a walkout protesting the decision.

"Hachette Book Group has decided that it will not publish Woody Allen’s memoir Apropos of Nothing, originally scheduled for sale in April 2020, and will return all rights to the author," the publishing company said Friday in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.

But Stock, a French subsidiary of Hachette, is going ahead with the planned April 29 release of the French edition of the book, titled Soit dit en passant. In an interview with France Inter public radio, Stock's chairman Manuel Carcassonne called Allen's book "wonderfully-written, amusing, full of humility" and called the 84-year-old director "one of the century's great artists."

Speaking to the accusations of sexual violence leveled against Allen by his son Dylan Farrow, Carcassonne pointed to the fact that Allen "was entirely cleared on two occasions by the American courts, by judicial experts, by psychiatrists. My conviction is that he is entirely innocent of the accusations against him.”

Allen's memoirs are to be published at a very sensitive time in the French film industry, following the controversy surrounding the decision of the French Film Academy to award its best director honor, the César, to Roman Polanski, a director wanted on rape charges in the U.S. and accused of sexual assault in France. But Carcassonne, while admitting it was an "explosive" time to release the Allen book in his country, warned not to confuse the two men or the allegations against them.

"Woody Allen is not Roman Polanski," Carcassonne said. "Roman Polanski has acknowledged some of the accusations made against him. This is not at all the case for Woody Allen who has always protested his innocence and proved it in U.S. courts."

Hachette Book Group in the U.S. made the decision to pull will Apropos of Nothing a day after employees staged a walkout in protest over the book.

"The decision to cancel Mr. Allen’s book was a difficult one. At HBG we take our relationships with authors very seriously, and do not cancel books lightly. We have published and will continue to publish many challenging books. As publishers, we make sure every day in our work that different voices and conflicting points of views can be heard. Also, as a company, we are committed to offering a stimulating, supportive and open work environment for all our staff. Over the past few days, HBG leadership had extensive conversations with our staff and others. After listening, we came to the conclusion that moving forward with publication would not be feasible for HBG."

A source tells THR that following the announcement, HBG staff were surprised yet also relieved, clapping and cheering over the news. 

Thursday's walkout included employees from imprints Little, Brown and Company, which released Ronan Farrow's Catch and Kill, and Grand Central Publishing, which announced earlier in the week that it would be releasing Allen's memoir on April 7. Following the announcement, Farrow stated he would be ending his relationship with Hachette.

Farrow, whose reporting on Harvey Weinstein's years of predation are a focus in Catch and Kill, is Allen's son and has repeatedly stated he believes his sister Dylan Farrow's allegations that the filmmaker sexually abused her as a child.

Dylan tweeted about HBG's decision to no longer publish Allen's memoir, writing, "I'm in awe and so very grateful." 

"To each and every individual who, at great professional risk to themselves, stood in solidarity with my brother, myself, and all victims of sexual abuse yesterday: words will never describe the debt of gratitude I owe to you," she added. "For someone who has felt alone in my story for so long, yesterday was a profound reminder of what a difference can be made when people stand and unite together for what's right. Thank you so very much."

Ronan Farrow also shared on social media that he was "grateful to all the Hachette employees who spoke up and to the company for listening."

The investigative reporter had tweeted earlier on Tuesday that he was "disappointed to learn through press reports" of Hachette's decision to publish the book "after other major publishers refused to do so." Farrow continued that HBG "concealed the decision from me and its own employees while we were working on Catch and Kill — a book about how powerful men, including Woody Allen, avoid accountability for sexual abuse." Later in the statement, he said he told the publisher he couldn't work with the company "in good conscience" any longer.

Farrow also criticized the publishing company for not fact-checking the book. "My sister Dylan has never been contacted to respond to any denial or mischaracterization of the abuse she suffered at the hands of Woody Allen — a credible allegation, maintained for almost three decades, backed up by contemporaneous accounts and evidence," he wrote. "It's wildly unprofessional in multiple obvious directions for Hachette to behave this way. But it also shows a lack of ethics and compassion for victims of sexual abuse, regardless of any personal connection or breach of trust here."

His sister also issued a statement Tuesday, writing that Hachette's decision is "deeply upsetting to me personally and an utter betrayal of my brother." She also pointed to a discrepancy between the lack of fact-checking of Allen's memoir and the "endless scrutiny" and "extensive fact-checking" hers has undergone before ever being published. "Hachette's complicity in this should be called out for what it is and they should have to answer for it," she added.

In Catch and Kill, Farrow details his initial reluctance to fully engage with or speak out publicly regarding his sister's longtime allegations about their father. The reporter broke his silence in a 2016 guest column in THR, writing, "I believe my sister. This was always true as a brother who trusted her, and, even at 5 years old, was troubled by our father's strange behavior around her."