Last week, 30 Rock actor Alec Baldwin spoke out in defense of Woody Allen following the HBO premiere of Allen v. Farrow, a four-part docuseries examining the allegation that the celebrated filmmaker had sexually molested his 7-year-old adoptive daughter, Dylan Farrow, in the attic of their Connecticut country home on Aug. 4, 1992.
“Who needs courtrooms or rule of law when we have trial by media?” Baldwin wrote on Twitter, alongside an article about the documentary.
Baldwin’s critique was sent out to his hundreds of thousands of followers the day after the premiere, so it appears that SNL’s Trump decided to pass judgment on the entire series after only viewing its first episode. As a whole, Allen v. Farrow includes not only testimony from Dylan, Mia, and Ronan Farrow, but also interviews with neighbors, family friends, city and state officials, and a trove of never-before-seen documents—as well as audio recordings of phone calls between Woody and Mia.
Its filmmakers, Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, were more than a little surprised by the “trial by media” allegation.
“Wow. How can he say that? He hasn’t seen the whole thing yet,” Ziering tells The Daily Beast. “I think the trial by media happened over the past three decades, Alec. Let’s see who was tried and convicted. He should a) watch the series; and b) look at the role the media played in spreading spin instead of truths, in not doing any fact-checking, in excoriating someone and convicting her [Mia Farrow] without any due diligence over three decades, and then talk to us about trial by media.”
The third episode of Allen v. Farrow, premiering this Sunday night, indeed focuses on how Allen weaponized the media against Farrow in the wake Dylan’s molestation allegation against Allen. Immediately following the news that Allen was being investigated by police, he held a press conference at The Plaza Hotel in Manhattan, where he proclaimed his love for Farrow’s college-aged daughter Soon-Yi and accused Farrow of cooking up the molestation claim out of revenge—even though Farrow had brought Dylan to a pediatrician to have her discuss the allegation, and the pediatrician independently reported it to the police.
Following the presser, Allen did cover story interviews with TIME, Newsweek, and People, and also sat down for an interview with 60 Minutes. Mia Farrow says she wanted to keep the matter private for the sake of her children and did not grant interviews at the time. Because of her stance, Allen’s narrative seemingly took hold in the media, and by extension the public consciousness, casting Farrow as a vengeful woman scorned.
“Woody’s story was so prominent in part because Mia elected not to talk to the media because she knew that if she did, it would just stir up the media even more, and it was already having such a traumatic effect on her family as it was, that she felt the best thing for her family was not to say anything,” explains Dick. “So she chose protecting her family over getting the story out.”
“I’d like to raise a pointed point back to Alec Baldwin: If you watch the series, it’s Woody Allen who went public with the story. It wasn’t Mia,” adds Ziering. “It was Woody Allen who called the first press conference. It was Woody Allen who got himself on the covers of TIME and Newsweek, and agreed to a 60 Minutes interview. This is the first time Mia has spoken at length on camera about this issue ever.”
Then again, Baldwin isn’t exactly the poster child for the #MeToo movement. Back in 2017, he briefly left Twitter after criticizing one of Harvey Weinstein’s alleged rape victims, Rose McGowan, for reaching a financial settlement with him. Baldwin also complained to Megyn Kelly that the #MeToo movement was targeting innocent men and joked that he couldn’t even tell whether touching his wife, Hilaria Baldwin—who is not Spanish—was now “inappropriate.” (There was also his infamous appearance in good friend James Toback’s documentary palling around with Roman Polanski aboard a yacht.)
Another character who enters the fray in Episode 3 of Allen v. Farrow is the filmmaker’s longtime lawyer, Elkan Abramowitz, who represented Allen at the time of the abuse allegation and subsequent child custody trial (another of his past clients: Harvey Weinstein). Just this week, Abramowitz was retained by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo amid a probe into his alleged cover-up of COVID nursing home deaths, as well as three sexual harassment allegations against him, two from former aides.
When I mentioned the Cuomo news to Dick and Ziering, they couldn’t help but laugh.
“Oh, dear. I guess he hasn’t seen the series,” offers Ziering. “I don’t think those episodes have aired yet, so he wouldn’t know—and neither would Elkan.”
“There does seem to be a roster of usual suspects that traffic in these kinds of cases,” she adds. “They know the playbook.”
As for Baldwin, on Wednesday night he announced that he was quitting Twitter yet again, calling it a place where “all the assholes in the United States and beyond go to get their advanced degrees in assholiness.”
The Daily Beast will be running additional conversations with Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering immediately following Episodes 3 and 4 of Allen v. Farrow.
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