The XX Factor

Woody Allen’s Publicist Proves Ronan Farrow 100 Percent Right About Access Journalism

Woody Allen during a press conference for his film Cafe Society ahead of the opening of the 69th Cannes Film Festival.

Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images

On Wednesday, the Hollywood Reporter published a stirring essay by Ronan Farrow, the son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, lambasting the press for not asking Allen about allegations that he sexually assaulted his daughter, Dylan, when she was 7. Farrow suggested that journalists and publications avoid the topic out of fear that they’ll suffer professionally if they offend Allen and his publicist, Leslee Dart of 42 West (whom Farrow alluded to without naming). Referring to email blasts that Dart sent to the press seeking to defend Allen and discredit Dylan, Farrow wrote:

The open CC list on those emails revealed reporters at every major outlet with whom that publicist shared relationships—and mutual benefit, given her firm’s starry client list, from Will Smith to Meryl Streep. Reporters on the receiving end of this kind of PR blitz have to wonder if deviating from the talking points might jeopardize their access to all the other A-list clients.

On Thursday, Dart reacted to Farrow’s essay by banning journalists from the Hollywood Reporter from a press conference for Allen’s new film, Cafe Society, at the Cannes Film Festival. Explaining this decision to the Hollywood Reporter, Dart said, “It’s only natural that I would show displeasure when the press—in this case, the Hollywood Reporter—goes out of its way to be harmful to my client.”

In other words, Dart was demonstrating to editors at the Hollywood Reporter, and editors at every other publication that covers her celebrity clients, that “deviating from the talking points”—in this case, bland coverage of Cafe Society that doesn’t mention the abuse allegations against Allen—“might jeopardize their access to all the other A-list clients.” Some might call this “only natural.” Others might call it “access journalism at work.”