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Allies come to Woody Allen's defense on abuse allegations

Source: Reuters - Wed, 5 Feb 2014 02:24 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Recasts, adds comments, impact on Oscars, previous WASHINGTON)

By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES, Feb 4 (Reuters) - The long-time lawyer of Woody Allen and veteran journalist Barbara Walters came out in support of the Oscar-winning filmmaker on Tuesday following renewed allegations of sexual abuse from his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow.

Elkan Abramowitz, who represented Allen at the time of the original investigation into abuse two decades ago, told NBC News that the "timing is suspect," and linked the accusations to Allen's recent Golden Globes life achievement award.

"Nothing's happened, they haven't had any relationship for the last 20 years. So all of a sudden we're seeing these allegations surface again, and one has to wonder why," Abramowitz told NBC's "Today" show.

"He is innocent," he said. "The case is over - there is no case."

The campaign for Allen comes as the 6,000-plus members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences prepare to vote for the Oscars next week, ahead of the March 2 ceremony. Allen's film "Blue Jasmine" has three nominations, including best original screenplay for Allen and best actress for Cate Blanchett, the favorite to win.

Last week, in a letter published by The New York Times, Dylan Farrow repeated her allegations that Allen sexually assaulted her in the Connecticut house where she lived with her mother, Allen's then-girlfriend Mia Farrow.

Allen was never charged in the case and Connecticut prosecutors said this week there is no current investigation into the allegations.

While it is unclear how the controversy might affect the film's Oscar fortunes, awards handicappers say they can't rule out a negative impact.

A representative for Sony Pictures Classics, the studio behind "Blue Jasmine," did not respond to requests for comment.

WAITING FOR ALLEN RESPONSE

Allen will issue his own response to the allegations, a spokeswoman said on Sunday, but it was not clear when.

Abramowitz has been the most vocal of those to speak out publicly in defense of Allen. On Monday, an ex-girlfriend of Allen, Stacey Nelkin, appeared on CNN with host Piers Morgan to discuss her former relationship with the filmmaker. Nelkin, who dated Allen when she was 17 and he was 42 after meeting on the set of his film "Manhattan," said she didn't believe Dylan Farrow's accusations against Allen.

Walters specifically praised Allen's parenting skills on her ABC morning TV show "The View" on Tuesday, saying the filmmaker was a "sensitive, loving and caring" father to his two adopted daughters with wife Soon-Yi Previn.

Abramowitz said Allen's recent recognition in Hollywood prompted the renewed claims.

"It's a continuation of Mia Farrow's desire to hurt Woody Allen," he said, adding his recent lifetime achievement award at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's Golden Globes "revived the anger she has toward him".

Representatives for Mia Farrow did not respond to a request for comment.

Both Mia Farrow and her son, Ronan Farrow, took to Twitter after the Golden Globes to criticize the tribute to Allen and revive the abuse allegations.

Dylan Farrow specifically targeted the actors of "Blue Jasmine," including Blanchett, and asked how they would feel if it had been "your child" who was molested.

The accusations from the Farrows, says awards handicapper Tom O'Neil of Goldderby.com, could be seen as "Oscar war" and "in their battle against 'Blue Jasmine,' Cate Blanchett could be a casualty of the war." He said, however, that she probably won't take sides, making her less vulnerable in her Oscar bid.

Blanchett has spoken once on the issue, telling a reporter at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival last weekend "it's obviously been a long and painful situation for the family and I hope they find some sort of resolution and peace." (Additional reporting by Susan Heavey in Washington; Editing by Mary Milliken and Ken Wills)

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