NEW YORK (AFP) ― Just days from learning whether his latest film, “Midnight in Paris,” will win an Oscar, Woody Allen spent the evening in New York talking about his first love ― radio.
The famed director and New Yorker met late Tuesday with a large audience at 92Y Jewish cultural center in Manhattan’s Upper East Side and screened his 1987 movie “Radio Days” at an event in honor of early radio pioneer Himan Brown.
Allen, who made the film to depict the pre-television golden era of radio broadcasting, then took audience questions and chatted with his contemporary and former TV presenter Dick Cavett.
“When I was a kid, radio was all we had. When I was getting dressed, having breakfast, the radio was always there,” Allen, 76, recalled.
With more than 40 films under his belt, including classics like “Annie Hall,” “Manhattan” and “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” Allen has movies in his blood. At Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony, his new film is up for best picture, best director, best screenplay and best artistic direction.
But he recalled growing up with radio and how the worst parental punishment was a week’s ban on listening to broadcasts. That was “a brutal deprivation,”he said.
Not that he didn’t get his own back, of course.
“There was nothing more blissful than pretending that you were sick and to remain in bed, listening the radio for 12 hours. It was just blissful,” he recounted.
Allen admitted that this unconditional love could look a little silly now.
“How naive we were. We believed that radio was the end of all wars, a method of linking everyone,” he said.
Also the radio programs he once worshipped did not stand the test of time.
“When I hear all these old shows now, some of them are garbage. My God, how could I have been enchanted by that?” he said to laughter.
Dressed simply as usual in a cream colored sweater, Allen also talked of his less well known passion for magic tricks, which appear in several films including the 2006 “Scoop.”
According to Allen, the hobby was a “colossal waste of time.”
“Allegedly it would make me popular at parties, but I never did anything for anybody. It was the mirror and me!” he said.
Allen said it was thanks to Diane Keaton, with whom he had a five year relationship in the ‘70s, that he began to write roles especially for women.
“I started the relationship with Diane Keaton and I was very impressed with her. I said I can write for her, I can write for women.” He added, prompting more laughter: “Now I’m better woman than man.”
But his greatest fan, he said, is his mother. “She has seen all my movies. She enjoys them without understanding them.”
On Sunday, the Writers Guild of America announced Allen won its best original screenplay award for “Midnight in Paris.”