Woody Allen’s Book Has John Legend and Stephen King in a Twitter Squabble

Woody Allen’s week in publishing has surely been a bookended range of emotions for the filmmaker.

At the start of the week, the comedian announced he would be publishing his memoir in April with Hachette Publishing. Hachette’s imprint, Little, Brown and Company, also published his son, Ronan Farrow’s book, Catch and Kill, which, ironically, is about powerful men who have, like Allen, been accused of sexual misconduct and abuse.

Selena Gomez and Woody Allen on the set of 'A Rainy Day in New York', 2017
Selena Gomez and Woody Allen on the set of ‘A Rainy Day in New York’, 2017 |
James Devaney/GC Images

A week of protests and outcry against the book followed and, four days after Allen’s initial announcement, Hachette announced their decision to not publish the book after all.

Twitter, of course, was a reflection of the many opinions on Woody Allen. Even author Stephen King and musical artist John Legend got in a tweet spat.

Here’s what happened

Monday was Allen’s announcement that he would be publishing his memoir, Apropos of Nothing in Apr. 2020.

Within hours, his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, who maintains that Allen sexually abused her as a child, tweeted her shock and disapproval with the news.

Her brother, Ronan, a day later, tweeted to express both his disbelief and feeling of betrayal with the publisher, which had been signing and planning Allen’s book while Ronan’s own book was being published.

Two days later, on Mar. 5, Hachette employees staged a walk-out to protest Allen’s memoir.

The employee walkout and Hachette’s final decision

According to an employee who spoke anonymously with Slate this week, the publishing staff knew of an upcoming town hall meeting to be held by CEO Michael Pietsch, but saw it as no more than higher-up-speak. Slate asked the employee how the walk-out was planned.

“It was kind of just word-of-mouth whispers. . . It was really pretty quiet. I think it stems from frustration that the CEO was holding a town hall and instead of going to a town hall where they’ll try to placate us, we decided to walk out.”

In the end Hachette, after the walk-out and tweets protesting the company from many, including Rose McGowan, announced the book was off, saying in a statement, “we came to the conclusion that moving forward with [this] publication would not be feasible for HBG.”

Stephen King’s tweets and John Legend’s response

Upon hearing that Woody Allen’s book had been cancelled by Hachette, Stephen King surprisingly was very upset and responded with a series of tweets.

“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,” King said in his first tweet about the book cancellation.

For King, as a writer, it’s obviously less a moral issue than it is a matter of censorship. However, tweeters were not having it.

Musician John Legend replied to King, “He can say whatever he wants. They are not required to spend their money or resources on distributing it.”

While King hasn’t replied to Legend, he did reply to another Twitter user, saying “If you think he’s a pedophile, don’t buy the book. Don’t go to his movies. Don’t go listen to him play jazz at the Carlyle. Vote with your wallet…by withholding it. In America, that’s how we do.”

Finally, King ended with a tweet summarizing his feeling on the entire situation.

“Let me add that it was f***ing tone-deaf of Hachette to want to publish Woody Allen’s book after publishing Ronan Farrow’s.”