In an interview Friday on the New York radio station WOR 710, Lee called Allen “a great, great filmmaker” and used him as an example while talking about “cancel culture.”
“I’d just like to say Woody Allen is a great, great filmmaker and this cancel thing is not just Woody,” Lee said.
“And I think that when we look back on it, (we’re) gonna see that, short of killing somebody, I don’t if you can just erase somebody like they never existed. Woody’s a friend of mine,” the Do The Right Thing director said. “I know he’s going through it right now.”
Allen has been accused of molesting his daughter Dylan Farrow when she was seven years old in the early 1990s. Allen has long denied the allegation.
Many people criticized Lee for his comments and he took to Twitter the following day to issue an apology.
“I deeply apologize. My words were WRONG. I do not and will not tolerate sexual harassment, assault or violence. Such treatment causes real damage that can’t be minimized. -Truly, Spike Lee,” the She’s Gotta Have It creator tweeted.
Earlier this year, Allen released a memoir through Arcade Publishing after his original publisher, Hachette Book Group, dropped the book amid widespread criticism.
In March, Hachette Book Group (HBG) decided to cancel the planned release of his memoir Apropos of Nothing following days of criticism based on allegations that Allen sexually abused his daughter.
“The decision to cancel Mr. Allen’s book was a difficult one. At HBG we take our relationships with authors very seriously, and do not cancel books lightly,” the publisher announced.
“We have published and will continue to publish many challenging books. As publishers, we make sure every day in our work that different voices and conflicting points of views can be heard.
“Also, as a company, we are committed to offering a stimulating, supportive and open work environment for all our staff. Over the past few days, HBG leadership had extensive conversations with our staff and others. After listening, we came to the conclusion that moving forward with the publication would not be feasible for HBG.”
—With files from The Associated Press