Woody Allen sparks bidding war for memoir. He's hoping for upwards of $4 million for tell-all about his taboo-smashing personal life

By Gary Susman
Updated October 10, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

Woody Allen’s current movie, the Jason Biggs-Christina Ricci romantic comedy ”Anything Else,” will be lucky to crack $4 million at the box office, even though it has been in theaters for nearly a month. Yet that’s the figure he’s expecting to earn for the worldwide publishing rights to his proposed memoir, the New York Post reports. While U.S. ticket sales for the writer/director’s movies have plummeted in recent years, interest in his unorthodox romantic life apparently remains high. That’s why, publishing execs familiar with his proposal tell the New York Times, there’s a bidding war for a book in which Allen would tell-all about how he’s broken ”taboos” in his personal relationships.

Allen’s literary agent at ICM issued a statement this week, saying, ”Woody Allen has expressed an interest in writing an autobiography, but he has not made a decision yet.” Publishing industry observers interpret that to mean he’ll tell all if the price is right. ”He is waiting to see the level of interest before committing himself to the book,” HarperCollins U.K. spokeswoman Susana Frayn told the Associated Press. ”If he would write the book, we would be delighted to publish it,” said Frayn, whose house made an offer for the British rights that the Post placed at $1.25 million. So far, the Times and the Post say the bidding among U.S. publishers has gone as high as $2 million, while ICM is expecting at least another $2 million in offers from overseas publishers.

All this for a book based on a proposal that reports say is a scant 10 to 12 pages. But Allen is an accomplished author (his books include the humor collections ”Without Feathers” and ”Side Effects”). And according to the Post, the proposal promises that — on matters such as Allen’s notorious dumping of longtime girlfriend Mia Farrow and taking up with her adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn, whom he eventually married — Allen would be ”extremely candid.”