Allen ready to tell his tale ... for the right price

Woody Allen is ready to tell a story "full of fascinating and juicy real-life dramas and conflicts". But the 70-year-old director of such classics as Annie Hall and Manhattan will not write a word of his autobiography until he has been guaranteed a lot of money.

In a letter to his agent that was circulated to potential publishers, Allen wrote: "It would take me between six months and a year to really do a fine job and it's hard to imagine there's enough money out there to make me take the time away from film or theatre to do it. For this I want a lot of money. The ball is in your court."

Allen has already agreed to sell the non-US rights for the book for an estimated £1.5m to HarperCollins, which beat off several other London publishers at the recent Frankfurt book fair.

It was reported yesterday that Allen is close to agreeing a $3m deal with the Penguin Group for the US rights. Allen has plenty with which to fill his memoirs.

He said that he is ready to tell all about his relationships with Mia Farrow and heradopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn. His affair with Soon-Yi, who was then aged 21, scandalised New York and the film industry and following Farrow's discovery of the relationship a custody battle ensued over their natural son, Satchel. Farrow also accused Allen of behaving in an inappropriate way towards another of her adopted children, Dillon, who was then aged three.

Allen, who since then has adopted two children with Soon-Yi, was also investigated over sexual abuse allegations, though no charges were brought. He did, however, sign a legal agreement undertaking not to be alone with Dillon and Satchel until they were 12.

In his proposal, Allen "bullet-pointed" his relationship with Farrow. He wrote: "My incredible meeting with Mia Farrow, our totally unconventional courtship (I never phoned her, only my secretary spoke to her), our experiences together, our problems, my falling in love with her daughter and the subsequent earthquake it caused. The Mia episode is really a book in itself."

No one from Penguin was available to comment but Celina Spiegel, a publisher with the group's Riverhead Books division, told The New York Times: "I am assuming he wants to write the book because he took it to auction and he did it. We have no indication he does not want to write the book."

Allen's publicist, Leslee Dart, said: "I talked to him at the crack of dawn this morning about the book. He said to me that it did not appear there was going to be any book." The effort by Allen to cash in on his memoirs is the latest of several attempts to firm up his finances, following a series of legal battles and settlements. He is also said to be trying to sell his New York town house for $27m. Despite - or more likely because of - the tarnishing of his image, Ms Spiegel predicted that any memoir would be a big hit. "I think he is an icon of his times," she said.

"He is incredibly funny. He is a great writer. We think he has an amazing story to tell, from growing up in the place that he did, to having relationships with some of the most important actors.

"He is one of the most important directors ever. I am hoping it is going to go forward in the way that we were told it would."

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