Amazon Studios executives defended the company’s decision to create a new TV series with Woody Allen despite allegations of sexual abuse leveled against him last year during a panel at the Television Critics Association press tour on Monday.
Amazon Studios head Roy Price deflected when asked why the fledgling streaming service began a collaboration with Allen after his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow accused the renowned filmmaker of sexually abusing her last year.
“You know, Woody Allen is one of the greatest filmmakers America has ever produced, and we are going to be talking about, people are going to be talking about Woody’s films for a long, long time,” Price told television journalists during the panel, according to Entertainment Weekly.
“And I think when we talk about what would be a great inspiration for a show, a lot of Woody Allen films kept coming up, with Annie Hall or what have you. And so then we just thought, ‘Well, what if we actually asked Woody Allen himself to do a show?’ And so I think that was really our focus.”
When a reporter asked whether the company had specifically taken into account the sexual assault allegations before making a deal with Allen, Price again batted the question away: “I think you have to look at the whole picture but… yeah, take everything into account, but our focus is on the fact that he is a great filmmaker and storyteller. And so we look forward to the show in 2016.”
Last year, Dylan Farrow penned an open letter, published in the New York Times, detailing her allegations of sexual abuse against her adoptive father, which she said happened “routinely” and were “skillfully hidden:”
“[W]hen I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house,” Farrow wrote. “He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother’s electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me. He talked to me while he did it, whispering that I was a good girl, that this was our secret, promising that we’d go to Paris and I’d be a star in his movies. I remember staring at that toy train, focusing on it as it traveled in its circle around the attic. To this day, I find it difficult to look at toy trains.”
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Amazon Studios executives had expected to take a “victory lap” during Monday’s TCA panel with a slew of critically acclaimed series to talk about, including the transgender-themed Transparent and the upcoming Philip K. Dick adaptation The Man in the High Castle.
But Price and other Amazon brass were reportedly forced to play defense for much of the discussion, fielding tough questions about competition from Netflix and controversy over the hiring of the former Top Gear team for a new show.
In a May interview with Deadline, Allen said he has struggled to complete his Amazon project, which does not yet have a title.
“I have regretted every second since I said OK,” Allen told the outlet.