Woody Allen Says Battle Is Like a ‘Cosmic Explosion’ : Custody: In his fight with Mia Farrow, he is demanding a full retraction of her child abuse claim.
Woody Allen said Monday he feels as if he’s “at the center of a cosmic explosion” in his bitter custody fight with Mia Farrow, but that before any settlement can occur, she must completely withdraw claims that he molested their 7-year-old daughter, Dylan.
The New York filmmaker said in an interview with The Times that he pressed that point vigorously during several telephone conversations with Farrow over the weekend and has been busy collecting witnesses and affidavits to prove his innocence and to support his side in the custody battle, which begins in New York State Supreme Court today.
“Look, anything but total absolution means nothing to me,” Allen said he told the 47-year-old actress during their weekend talks. “. . . She was the one saying maybe I can make some kind of statement, maybe we can issue a joint statement.
“There is no statement you can issue short of total culpability in a scheme, and there is no joint statement I am going to make,” Allen said he told Farrow. “You have painted yourself into a corner by playing the child abuse card, that was just dreadful, and you get out of it. I am not going to help you out of it.”
Allen, 56, spoke with The Times for more than an hour in the plush dark-green-walled screening room of his office on Park Avenue. He explained his side of the bitter custody case that has gripped New York and the nation.
Allen filed for custody of his natural son, Satchel, 4, and their two adopted children, Dylan and Moses, 14, on Aug. 13, soon after he learned that Farrow reported a claim of child abuse against him.
“I don’t think they will ever charge me, but if they do, I would prefer to do that (go to court) rather than issue some kind of joint statement with her.
“One way or the other, I will be exonerated,” Allen said, adding that he passed a lie detector test “in a breeze.”
Allen sat on a hassock alongside a couch. On the bulletin board of the reception area still are tacked pictures of Farrow and her children, taken in obviously happier days. Allen spoke quietly and earnestly as he made his case, at times in lawyerly fashion. He was dressed in his usual garb, an oxford-cloth shirt open at the collar and khaki chinos.
Allen, who has resolutely sought to avoid publicity during his long career, has begun granting interviews in recent days as part of his war with Farrow. Allen’s leading lady onstage and offstage for a dozen years so far has declined to be interviewed at length. Farrow has preferred to let her publicist, friends, family and high profile lawyer, Alan M. Dershowitz, speak for her.
Farrow has accused Allen of molesting Dylan and maintains that she has a videotape of Dylan describing her adopted father’s unwanted attentions toward her.
State police in Connecticut, where Farrow has a country estate, reportedly have a copy of the tape and have confirmed that Allen is under investigation, although they declined to discuss any of the allegations against him.
Allen said that so far Connecticut authorities have not sought to interview him, but he has met with representatives of New York City’s Human Resources Administration to give his side of the story.
On Monday, Dershowitz confirmed that Allen had asked Farrow to withdraw the child abuse allegations. “He was, in effect, asking her to lie,” the lawyer charged.
The melodrama has been spiced by the revelation of Allen’s romance with Soon-Yi Farrow Previn, 21, one of Farrow’s adopted daughters from her former marriage to conductor Andre Previn.
The contrasting portraits from both camps have been stark. Farrow’s mother, actress Maureen O’Sullivan, charged to the media that Allen was “evil and desperate.”
Recent television interviews given by two of Farrow’s children, Moses and 17-year-old Daisy Previn, sought to paint Allen as a disturbed and violent man.
“I believe he molested Dylan, and I can say that honestly,” Daisy Previn told reporters Thursday as she stood in the hallway of the family’s elegant Upper West Side apartment in Manhattan. “I believe he’s sick, and he could do something like that.”
Meanwhile, Soon-Yi has alleged that Farrow beat her, hit her with a chair, shredded her clothing and locked her in her room after learning that she was involved in a romantic affair with Allen.
Farrow’s friends dismiss the allegations and praise Farrow for her kindness and interest in the children she has adopted.
Gary Springer of John Springer Associates, the Manhattan-based firm that handles Farrow’s publicity, said: “It’s inconceivable in terms of what I know about this woman. Anna Strasberg, (stage director) Lee Strasberg’s widow, just the other day was comparing Mia to Mother Teresa. She’s a caring, concerned mother.”
Allen’s supporters contend Farrow is maniacally driven to adopt and favors some children over others in a household where discipline certainly is lacking and where two children were arrested in Connecticut for shoplifting.
“If she will just stop, I’ll stop,” Allen said of the all-out media war.
“The thing I feel bad about is there is a linkage being made between my relationship with Soon-Yi and this child abuse nonsense,” Allen said.
“I feel that’s not really fair and right. One is an affair between two grown-ups, a private two-consenting-adult relationship, that has been a good relationship and continues to be a good, solid relationship. The other is the totally spurious prefabrication in an acrimonious child custody thing.
”. . . It was all completely honorable. She (Soon-Yi) and I are two grown-ups, and we have feelings for each other and are honest with each other and are good. That’s all I can say.”
Allen denied that he had any interest in Soon-Yi when she was a child.
“I never spoke to Soon-Yi at all. I thought she was going to be a nun . . .
“Mia’s family seemed to me when I saw them to be polite . . . . I found out years later all wasn’t so perfect . . . . There are problems.”
Allen indicated that if pressed during the custody fight, he is prepared, through affidavits and witnesses, to detail those problems in court, though he is not eager to do so.
Allen said he did not tell Farrow about his relationship with Soon-Yi because he feared she would move to Connecticut and deny him joint adoption of Dylan.
He stressed that he began his relationship with Soon-Yi years after his romance with Farrow had ended.
After Farrow discovered revealing pictures of Soon-Yi in Allen’s apartment, Allen and Farrow began negotiations to settle visitation and other issues. Allen contends that everything appeared to be on track toward a legal agreement with Farrow when he was suddenly accused of molesting Dylan.
Allen said the charge “doesn’t make any sense.”
“I would never molest my daughter. I am 56 years old and on the verge of signing an agreement (with Farrow). I have an unblemished record my whole life. I am not suddenly in broad daylight in a big open house with baby sitters and Mia there, I am not going to take my daughter off and pick that time to molest her. It does not make any logical sense . . . . It is just so crazy.”
Allen said that when he left Farrow’s house in Connecticut on Aug. 5, he did not have a clue that trouble stretched ahead.
“That day, I called up later as I always do, and there didn’t seem to be anything wrong. The next day my lawyer said he got a note from their lawyer which said that visitation will discontinue because something has occurred. The moment I called Mia, she just hung up on me. I called her many times, she just hung up on me . . . . Finally my lawyer said she is saying that you molested her (Dylan). Of course I went through the roof.”
Allen said he told his lawyers the charge was crazy, and he commenced the custody suit because he wanted to get his kids “out of that atmosphere that is so belligerent” and he wanted the children brought “to a safe harbor.”
Allen expressed incredulity at Farrow’s behavior after she made the charge. Allen said she continued to act as if she still had a part in his next movie, even calling the hairdresser and the movie’s costume people to arrange a fitting.
Farrow has been replaced in Allen’s next film by Diane Keaton. But Farrow’s supporters say that the bitter battle would not have affected her professional performance in the film.
Farrow’s lawyers are expected to argue in court that Allen’s custody suit was designed to get her to drop the child abuse charges.
The case has stripped to the cold core the 12-year relationship between Allen and the actress. The battle rivals, and perhaps eclipses, the bitter divorce of real estate developer Donald Trump and his wife, Ivana. All of this has been grist for New York’s tabloids, easily pushing President Bush and the Republican Convention off their front pages.
“I think this is worse,” Allen said, in comparison to the Trump divorce. “Here little children are involved, and little children are being used shamelessly, I feel.”
Lawyers for Allen, Farrow and for the third party to the sordid breakup--the media--were in court to argue whether news cameras should be allowed in Supreme Court Justice Phyllis Gangel-Jacob’s courtroom today when the custody proceedings begin. Floyd Abrams, the preeminent First Amendment attorney in the country, argued on behalf of the New York Broadcasting Pool and Court TV, a cable enterprise, that at this point excluding the press is ridiculous, considering how much publicity the case was receiving.
“These parents have tried the case already in the press, and it’s time now for the public to see the case in its real form, in the courtroom,” said Abrams, adding that in terms of press coverage, “we are at nuclear war levels.”
But lawyers for Allen and Farrow put up a rare unified front, insisting that the privacy of three children is at stake and further details of their lives should not be exploited.
“The public has been informed ad infinitum, maybe ad nauseum,” said Harvey Sladkus, one of Allen’s attorneys. “What more does the public need to know?”
Judge Gangel-Jacob decided to bar cameras from the courtroom on the grounds that they would intrude on the privacy of the 30 or 40 other people who would be on her docket today.
After her ruling, Abrams pointed out that since today’s hearing would mainly be for scheduling dates for other hearings in the custody case, he would probably ask the judge to allow cameras at those proceedings.
But Farrow’s and Allen’s lawyers are pushing to keep the press, not just the cameras, out of the courtroom altogether, and in fact they are likely to ask the judge to close the courtroom to all but the family and lawyers involved in the case.
Farrow’s lawyer Eleanor Alter noted: “We can’t control what happens outside, on the street, but we can control what happens in this courtroom.”
Times staff writer Geraldine Baum contributed to this story.
A Complicated Family Tree
Here are the sources of Mia Farrow’s children. Woody Allen has admitted having a relationship with Soon-Yi Previn, a Korean-born adopted daughter of Farrow and her ex-husband, conductor Andre Previn. Woody Allen: Age 56 Allen and Farrow: Dylan O’Sullivan Farrow: Age 7 (adopted) Satchel O’Sullivan Farrow: Age 4 1/2 (biological son) Moses Amadeus Farrow: Age 14 (adopted)
Mia Farrow: Age 57 Farrow: Tam Farrow: Age 12 (adopted) Isaiah Farrow: Age 8 months (adopted)
Andre Previn: Age 63 (former husband) Previn and Farrow: Fletcher Previn: Age 17 (biological son) Matthew Previn and Sascha Previn: Age 21 (biological twins Daisy Previn: Age 17 (adopted) Lark Previn: Age 18 adopted Soon-Yi Previn: Age 21 (adopted)
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