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Allen's custody battle turns bitter as life imitates art

(First Edition)

WHEN sex scandals erupt around the heads of prominent New Yorkers, and details of their love lives dominate the salacious New York tabloids, the usual reaction is to go into hiding and wait for the storm to blow over.

Woody Allen, who is reclusive when things are going well, is basking in the glare of media attention now that his love affair with his adopted 21-year-old daughter, Soon-Yi, is public knowledge.

Despite a statement by the Connecticut state police that 'there is an investigation against Mr Allen, but no specific charges have been filed yet because it's still under investigation' and banner headlines like the New York Post's 'Mia's got nude pix,' Allen turned up to play the clarinet for his regular gig before an audience of tourists and fans at Michael's Pub on Monday night.

'Regarding my love for Soon-Yi: it's real and happily all true,' he had earlier said in a statement issued by his agent. 'She's a lovely, intelligent, sensitive woman who has and continues to turn around my life in a wonderfully positive way.'

The collision between the film director's life and his art is consuming countless column inches in the papers as commentators explore the parallels between his 1977 film, Manhattan, in which he plays a 42 year-old writer who falls in love with a teenager played by Mariel Hemingway. His movie Hannah and Her Sisters depicted a character played by his now estranged companion of 12 years and as many film collaborations, Mia Farrow, whose husband has an affair with her younger sister.

The strands in the latest plot are as twisted as any Mr Allen has explored in the past, and thanks to an ugly public battle for the custody of three of Ms Farrow's brood of 11 the saga is expected to run and run in New York.

Soon-Yi Farrow Previn was born in Korea and was adopted as a young child by Ms Farrow and her second husband, Andre Previn, the conductor. Ms Farrow's first marriage to Frank Sinatra (she was 21, he was 50) was childless and she has since adopted seven children, including Soon-Yi. She has also had four children of her own.

Soon-Yi and Allen began their affair seven months ago, but as pictures in several newspapers demonstrated yesterday, they were seen holding hands at a basketball game as long ago as January 1990.

The reports of nude pictures of Soon-Yi and the police investigation of Mr Allen appear to be part of Ms Farrow's strategy to ensure that he is not granted custody of three children over whom he has filed suit. They are Moses Amadeus Farrow, 14, an adopted boy, Dylan O'Sullivan Farrow, 7, also adopted, and Satchel O'Sullivan Farrow, 4 and a half, the couple's only natural born son.