- Staff at Hachette’s New York office walked out in protest
- ‘The decision to cancel Mr Allen’s book was a difficult one’
Martin Pengelly in New York – The Guardian
Woody Allen pictured last year. Hachette said it ‘will return all rights to the author’. Photograph: Javier Etxezarreta/EPA
Hachette has dropped plans to publish a memoir by Woody Allen, the Oscar-winning film director who has been accused of sexually abusing his daughter.
“We take our relationships with authors very seriously, and do not cancel books lightly,” the publishing company said in a statement.
Little, Brown and Co (@littlebrown)
The decision to kill Allen’s book deal came on the heels of a staff walkout at Hachette’s New York office and calls of solidarity from staffers at Little, Brown and Grand Central Publishing, both imprints of Hachette.
Dylan Farrow on Friday welcomed news of the cancellation and thanked staff members at the three publishing groups for standing with her and her brother, Ronan Farrow, a journalist whose work has documented alleged sexual abuse by powerful men and fuelled the #MeToo movement and whose work has been published by Hachette.
Dylan Farrow (@RealDylanFarrow)
This week, Hachette announced publication of Allen’s memoir, Apropos of Nothing, scheduled for April.
That prompted blowback from both Dylan and Ronan, who quickly condemned the news on social media.
“The biggest complaint,” a Hachette staff member speaking on condition of anonymity told Refinery 29, “is that we feel strongly about everyone’s right to tell their own story, but we don’t agree with giving Woody Allen a platform with which to tell it that includes distribution, marketing, publicity.
“I think we feel he does not deserve a platform, that by publishing him we are in some way validating his story.”
Senior figures at Hachette, including Ronan Farrow’s editor, voiced their support.
The employee added: “A few people who I would say work with the parties involved met up and discussed and talked person to person and passed out papers. We had a town hall meeting with our CEO and our publisher. After we were able to raise our questions with them in a public forum, we grabbed our things and walked out.”
The employee did not think the company would change course but on Friday, it did.
Hachette “will return all rights to the author”, its statement said.
“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.
Hachette said it was committed to “making sure every day in our work that different voices and conflicting points of views can be heard” but also “offering a stimulating, supportive and open work environment for all our staff”.
Allen, 84, denies the accusations by his daughter Dylan Farrow, which were the subject of two investigations. The director was never charged.
Allen rose to fame as a stand-up comedian and comic writer and has made films for more than 50 years. He reportedly came close to publishing a memoir in 2003, reaching a deal with Penguin before changing his mind. Hachette said it made its deal with Allen last year.
Hachette published Ronan Farrow’s Catch and Kill, an account of his work on #MeToo stories including the case against the Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, who was convicted of rape in New York last month.
In a statement in response to news of his father’s deal, Farrow said he was “disappointed” his publisher had “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”.
This year, Macmillan will publish a debut novel by Dylan Farrow.
In her own statement on the decision to publish her father’s memoir, she said it was “deeply upsetting to me personally and an utter betrayal of my brother whose brave reporting, capitalised on by Hachette, gave voice to numerous survivors of sexual assault by powerful men.”
On Friday, Hachette concluded: “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.”
Mario Koran contributed reporting