Sharon Stone and Conan O'Brien created some uncomfortable television Thursday night when Stone gushed over her "Fading Gigolo" costar Woody Allen, who has recently attracted controversy over renewed allegations that he molested his daughter, Dylan Farrow, more than 20 years ago.
Without pausing to acknowledge the controversy (this is the all-smiling fantasy realm of late night television, after all!) the two talked around the elephant in a room that will be viewed by millions.
Allen plays a pimp as the supporting actor to John Turturro's character in "Fading Gigolo," also directed by Turturro. Stone stars as a doctor who pays for sex. While discussing the film, O'Brien said, "Hey, let's talk about Woody Allen!" and for a split second, it's hard not to think: Will O'Brien address the allegations against Allen? Will he force Stone to take a stance? Is this really going to happen?
But that's naive: Anyone who continues to work with Allen either totally believes in his innocence, as does Diane Keaton, or, like Scarlett Johansson, has wrestled with the allegations and concluded that there's nothing to conclude.
Still, O'Brien did not register the weight of the phrase that, for the past several months, has been followed by a heated and important discussion about sexual abuse and victim blaming that has forced celebrities and audiences to reevaluate their relationship with the director.
O'Brien continued, as did the awkwardness for those who remain critical of Allen: "More or less, he plays the pimp. He plays John Turturro's pimp. Which, if you ever think of casting a pimp, and you think of who would be last on the list it would be Woody -- it would be me, then Woody Allen, probably."
The moment was intended to be light and humorous, but instead it unfolded like a scripted display of dramatic irony as O'Brien again reminded Allen's critics of one of the weak but common defenses for Allen: that he's such a great friend and seems like a great father, so how could someone like that do something like that? It's the appeal most commonly invoked by Allen's friends, like Keaton and Barbara Walters, who would clearly put Allen "last on the list" of someone who would molest a girl -- let alone his own daughter.
Following the uncomfortably comfortable conversation, Stone then gushed about how Allen launched her career in his 1980 film "Stardust Memories." "He's such an excellent director, he's such a lovely man," said Stone. "He's been very kind to me over the years."