Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.
Bob Weide, producer of the forthcoming four-hour Woody Allen documentary that carries the working title Seriously Funny — The Comic Art of Woody Allen and premieres Nov. 20-21 as part of PBS’ American Masters series, appeared this morning on a TCA panel to hype this show. Flanking him were Manhattan star Mariel Hemingway and Oscar-winning Mighty Aphrodite star Mira Sorvino as well as American Masters creator and exec producer Susan Lacy. Notably absent from the panel: Mr. Woody Allen himself.
Hardly a shock.
“He’s in Rome right now shooting a film,” Weide reasoned.
“Or he’d be here,” Lacy quickly added.
“Right. Sure he would,” Weide shot back. “As a matter of fact, I have Mister Allen right here backstage … along with Marshall McLuhan.”
Weide was granted unprecedented access to Allen for the film despite his being “cripplingly shy,” in the producer’s words. The access was the culmination of years of Weide’s efforts to land Allen’s participation in a look at his life and career, following him both on set and at home as well as tooling around Brooklyn to look at the haunts of his youth. But Weide couldn’t have known how fortuitous his timing would be, with Allen hotter than ever thanks to the reaction to his latest film Midnight in Paris, which posted a box-office record for the veteran filmmaker. “Every time people sort of assume he’s down and out or played out, along comes a Match Point, a Vicky Cristina Barcelona, a Midnight in Paris, and he’s back on top and no stopping him,” Weide observed. “The big shock is, Woody is 75 years old, he’s done a film a year for 42 years, and Midnight in Paris is his biggest moneymaker. It’s going to hit $90 million worldwide.”
Weide continued, “Woody has the situation that as far as I know, nobody has. The people who finance his films don’t even read a script. This is a precedent that wad established with his first film in 1969, Take the Money and Run. He delivered it on time and on budget, and nobody messed with him. This is the scam he’s pulled off for over 40 years now.”
There was one uncomfortable moment during the panel when a question was asked of Hemingway — who was 18 years old when Manhattan was shot — if she believes his notorious love of much younger women has damaged Allen’s image and career. “Well it’s not a subject I like talking about tremendously,” she admitted with obvious nervousness. “It’s certainly been detrimental to him for a while. But he’s a creative genius and…well…he’s an artist and…that doesn’t mean he’s not an odd person, or that he makes choices we all agree with or all understand. But from my point of view, he makes sense to me.”