In the end, we’re not going to learn everything we always wanted to know about Woody Allen but were afraid to ask, since he’s changed his mind about writing his memoirs in exchange for “a lot of money”—money that, it turns out, wasn’t exactly forthcoming.
The will-he-or-won’t-he publishing drama was yet another story of Allen caught in a power struggle between two women—in one corner, the perpetually tanned agent peddling the proposal, ICM’s Amanda “Binky” Urban, and in the other, his publicist, PMK spin queen Leslee Dart, who went into Rolodex overdrive to distance herself from the project. “This was completely his agents’ idea,” she told reporters.
For a while, it seemed as if Dart might have the last word. But on Thursday, Urban hit back, e-mailing her colleagues to refute “what has been reported or ‘spun’ by Woody’s publicist, Leslee Dart.” The whole thing, she wrote, was completely Allen’s idea.
Urban said she’d contacted Allen about a novel she heard he’d written, and he’d countered with a two-sentence pitch for a memoir. “I showed those sentences to three or four publishers quietly and came back with about $2.5 million in opening offers. Woody said that wasn’t an enticing-enough number.” Later, she asked him to write a “lengthier proposal” for the Frankfurt Book Fair. That twelve-page memo was what elicited the almost $6 million in worldwide offers (though not the $10 million Allen reportedly wanted).
Then, with Maureen Dowd leading the way, the press frenzy began, and Dart took the heat over Allen’s “financial demands,” Urban wrote. She added, “By the way, Woody never mentioned the number—$10 million—to me. Had he done so, I would have saved him the trouble of writing a proposal.” Dart then “did what any press agent would do—point the finger elsewhere, namely at ICM,” Urban wrote, before noting that Allen “has since corrected Leslee’s understanding.”
Neither Urban nor Dart would comment, though Dart has proved that she’s not exactly tell-all-friendly: In 1992, when Mia wanted to write a book, Dart said that Allen was “generally appalled” that “someone who claims to have the children’s best interest at heart is writing memoirs.”