Hachette Drops Woody Allen’s Memoir After Controversy
"Apropos of Nothing" will no longer be published in April
The controversy surrounding the planned publication of Woody Allen’s memoir Apropos of Nothing, slated to be released in April, has taken another turn. Hachette Book Group, which was slated to publish Allen’s book via Grand Central Publishing, announced this afternoon that it would no longer publish the memoir, and that all rights to the book have reverted to Allen.
— Hachette Book Group (@HachetteUS) March 6, 2020
The statement read, in part:
Also, as a company, we are committed to offering a stimulating, supportive and open work environment for all our staff. 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.
This news follows Ronan Farrow’s very public break with Hachette due to their decision to publish Allen’s memoir, along with a walkout by Hachette Book Group employees protesting the book’s release yesterday. It also comes not long after the director settled a lawsuit with Amazon for payment guarantees connected to Allen’s film A Rainy Day In New York. Amazon was set to distribute the film, but pulled out after public outcry, and also pulled out of producing three more of the 84-year-old’s movies. The fate of A Rainy Day in New York and the other films is unclear.
Given that The New York Times reported last year that Allen had been unsuccessfully pitching a memoir, it’s unclear whether any other publishers will opt to pick up this one in Hachette’s wake. Given the overwhelming response in opposition to the planned publication of Apropos of Nothing, it’s difficult to imagine.
This case represented something of a perfect storm. It involved not just a controversial book, but a publisher that was working with individuals on both sides of a longstanding and traumatic familial rupture. This presented unique circumstances that clearly colored the positions staked out and decisions taken. If the end result here is that this book, regardless of its merits, disappears without a trace, readers will be denied the opportunity to read it and render their own judgements. As a defender of free speech and the availability of a wide breadth of books and ideas, we also fervently hope that the outcome does not lead publishers to shy away from manuscripts that editors think are worthwhile but that are about, or even by, people who may be considered contemptible.
Writer Stephen King also offered his commentary on the cancellation via his Twitter account, stating that “I don’t give a damn about Mr. Allen. It’s who gets muzzled next that worries me.”
The Hachette decision to drop the Woody Allen book makes me very uneasy. It's not him; I don't give a damn about Mr. Allen. It's who gets muzzled next that worries me.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) March 6, 2020
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