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Woody Allen killed his contract with Amazon when he called the #MeToo movement a witch hunt, lawyers repping the digital retail giant claim.
Amazon inked a four-movie deal with the controversial director in 2017 and never released his film “A Rainy Day in New York,” which sources previously claimed contained an adult-teen sex scene.
Attorney Robert Klieger told U.S. District Judge Denise Cote Friday that Allen, 83, breached his contract when he made “public comments that at a minimum were insensitive to the #MeToo movement.”
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Klieger said that Allen’s remarks hurt made the project, which starred Timothée Chalamet, Selena Gomez, Elle Fanning, Jude Law and Rebecca Hall, too difficult to promote.
Friday’s hearing was for a $68 million lawsuit Allen filed against Amazon in February.
Allen did not attend the hearing; his lawyer, John Quinn, told the judge that Amazon initially claimed it was ending the deal because of sexual abuse allegations made against Allen, not because of his incendiary remarks.
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“The baseless allegations against Mr. Allen are decades old,” Quinn said, adding that the claims were well known when Amazon signed their contract with Allen in August 2017 — just months before the #MeToo movement would shake Hollywood.
Allen’s adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, said in 1992 that Allen molested her in an attic when she was 7. Allen has repeatedly denied it and claimed Dylan’s mother, actress Mia Farrow, coached her to lie. Connecticut home. The Los Angeles Times reported that authorities and sexual abuse experts investigated the allegations, but a prosecutor declined to press charges to spare young Dylan the trauma of a trial. A judge in the case reportedly claimed that Allen’s behavior toward Dylan was “grossly inappropriate.”
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Dylan recounted the allegations in a 2014 essay for the New York Times, as well as in a sitdown for “CBS This Morning” in 2018.
Quinn claims that Amazon changed its explanation for terminating Allen’s contract to Allen’s #MeToo commentary, not the allegations levied against him previously.
Quinn said Amazon also cited claims that people in the industry won’t work with Allen.
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Many of Allen’s former castmembers renounced him, including “A Rainy Day in New York” stars Chalamet and Hall, as well as Michael Caine, Jeff Daniels, Hayley Atwell, Colin Firth, Mira Sorvino and Greta Gerwig.
In court papers, Amazon noted that Allen’s son, Ronan Farrow, published an article in The New Yorker just weeks after the company signed its contract with Allen, detailing numerous sexual misconduct claims against Harvey Weinstein.
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“The article became the catalyst for a broad reckoning over the persistence of sexual harassment in entertainment and other industries,” Amazon’s lawyers wrote in court documents.
Afterward, Amazon’s team alleges, Allen made numerous public remarks “suggesting that he failed to grasp the gravity of the issues or the implications for his own career.”
They cited several quotes by Allen in a magazine article including: “You don’t want it to lead to a witch-hunt atmosphere, a Salem atmosphere, where every guy in an office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer to defend himself.”
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They also noted that after Dylan recalled her harrowing memories of Allen’s alleged sexual abuse in January 2018, Allen publicly dismissed the statements in an interview, saying his daughter was “cynically using” #MeToo for attention.
Klieger told the judge Allen’s public comments resulted in controversy “in Hollywood and outside of Hollywood,” making his films unable to be made nor promoted any longer.
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The judge set a case schedule stretching into 2020.
Allen and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, among others, will likely be ordered to depose if the case isn’t resolved in private mediation.
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Allen planns to produce a new movie this summer, Quinn claimed. The auteur still has some celebrity supporters, including Javier Bardem, Diane Keaton, Blake Lively, Scarlett Johansson and Alec Baldwin.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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