The biggest book of this month’s Frankfurt Book Fair may never be published.
Woody Allen’s tell-all memoir, recently offered for sale by his ICM reps, has received bids from U.S. and foreign publishers totaling several million dollars.
But he hasn’t agreed to write it.
The proposal, excerpts of which appeared last week in the New York Post, promised to delve candidly into such tabloid fodder as his relationships with Mia Farrow and her adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn, and the lawsuit he brought against his longtime producer, Jean Doumanian.
It also hinted that Allen would write the book only if the price was right. “It’s hard to imagine there’s enough money out there to make me take the time away from film or theater to do it,” he wrote.
Allen remains popular in Europe, though the U.S. box office appeal of his films has fallen sharply in recent years. “Anything Else,” the last film to emerge from a three-picture production deal at DreamWorks, has grossed just $3.2 million.
The proposal was timed to capitalize on Allen’s overseas popularity. It was hotly discussed at the Frankfurt Book Fair, receiving offers from HarperCollins U.K. and France’s Laffont. His reps were said to be close to deals for Spanish and Italian rights.
But the foreign publishing contracts were likely contingent on a U.S. publishing deal. Last week, such a deal appeared to be imminent. Riverhead Books, an imprint of Putnam Penguin, topped several competing offers with a bid of $3 million for U.S. rights. Allen would probably need to sell several hundred thousand copies of the book to earn out such a high advance.
But Allen spokeswoman Leslee Dart told Daily Variety that he wasn’t close to a deal with Riverhead Books. “This was completely his agents’ idea,” Dart told the Associated Press on Saturday. “Many times over the past two to three years, they’ve asked him to write his memoirs and he said he wasn’t interested. They then told him they could get a phenomenal amount of money for it, and he said that for a phenomenal amount of money he could see if he could get interested.”
A Penguin Group spokesman did not return calls from Daily Variety.
It’s not unprecedented for a celebrity to dip his or her toes in the book world and get cold feet. For years, rumors circulated at the Frankfurt Book Fair that Greta Garbo would offer her autobiography for sale. She never did. Oprah Winfrey promised years ago to publish her autobio with Knopf; she later withdrew the offer. But she did hand Knopf the next best thing — a book contract with her personal chef. “In the Kitchen With Rosie” sold 6 million copies in hardcover.