Journalist and celebrity offspring Ronan Farrow stopped by HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday night to promote his new book but it didn’t take long for the show’s professionally provocative host to shake Farrow’s family tree to see what might pop loose.
The discussion about Farrow’s controversial new book, Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies and A Conspiracy to Protect Predators, opened into a wider conversation about the #metoo movement and the role of Farrow’s reportage in the movement. The guest appeared confused, however, when Maher posed a tangential question that was cryptic in its context.
“Now,” Maher asked, “what do you think your father would think about what you’re doing now?”
The wording implied that Farrow’s father was somehow unavailable to personally weigh-in on the topic. When the wary Farrow sought clarity, the smirking Maher added: “If he were alive.”
Thats when Maher’s veiled meaning became clear to Farrow and plenty of people in the audience who know the journalist’s history.
Quick background: Farrow is the son of actress Mia Farrow, who in 2013 admitted that some doubt surrounds her son’s paternal heritage. Filmmaker Woody Allen and Mia Farrow were a couple when Ronan was born in 1987 but more than two decades later she told Vanity Fair that there is a possibility that her ex-husband, Frank Sinatra, might be the biological father.
On Friday night, Maher’s guest looked pained when he realized Maher’s ploy. “I knew I was walking into that so I asked,” Farrow said. “I didn’t want to give you the soundbyte of ‘Which one?’”
The indelicate Sinatra question is a familiar tune for Maher who has brought up Farrow’s lineage on two previous shows that included the journalist as a guest. “We’re now three for three on times I’ve been on this show and you’ve mentioned it,” Farrow said with relatively good cheer.
For. three-time offender, Maher’s approach on Friday was at least subtle although not for long.
“I feel like there’s no one more #MeToo-y than Frank Sinatra,” Maher said, a sarcastic reference to Sinatra’s long history of philandering over the course of four marriages. Maher also told his guest that, frankly, he looks more Frankie than Woody. “You do own a mirror, don’t you?”
Farrow sidestepped the topic by telling Maher it would be wiser to “ask my mom” for opinions of Sinatra, since she was married to the legendary singer from 1966 to 1968. The author also didn’t volunteer any comments on Allen or his own response to the success of Farrow’s specialized reportage.
Maher revisited the topic of Trump’s handling of the situation in Syria at several points during the show. The comedian framed the foreign policy choices by Trump as a historic failure in one of the political arenas that have traditionally defined the GOP.
“Never forget that the man who promised [that] we’d win so much that we’d get tired of winning just lost an entire country,” Maher said. The screen image of Trump was accompanied by the phrase: “The Wrong Goodbye.”
Maher added: “Since the end of World War II, the Republican Party has been consistent about one message: we’re the national security tough guys. ‘These colors don’t run!’ And then Trump ran from Syria like he owed it money.”
That topic dovetailed with Maher’s wider frustration: the jarring double standard that lets Republicans off the hook for the same offenses that would be deemed unforgivable in the case of a Democrat.
Maher also zinged the Commander-in-Chief for switching his residence from the Empire State to the Sunshine State.
“Trump has said that he’s had it with the East Coast elitists.” Maher sneered.” He’s changing his official residency now to Florida. Wow, newsflash: elderly New Yorker moves to Florida.”