Warner Bros. and the Producers Guild of America (PGA) have both weighed in on producer Jon Peters’ involvement with Bradley Cooper’s “A Star Is Born” as sexual harassment charges from Peters’ past begin to resurface in the wake of the film’s awards season buzz. At least five sexual assault allegations have been made against Peters, ranging from 1996 to 2008, all of which were brought up in a detailed report by Jezebel published September 11.
A spokesperson for Warner Bros. says Peters’ credit on Cooper’s directorial debut is solely for legal reasons. “Jon Peters’ attachment to this property goes as far back as 1976,” the spokesperson said. “Legally, we had to honor the contractual obligation in order to make this film.”
The 1976 version of “A Star Is Born,” directed by Frank Pierson and starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, was produced by Peters. Because the producer was still a rights holder to the property when the new version picked up development, first with Clint Eastwood as director and then Bradley Cooper, he legally has to be attached to the film.
Warner Bros. faced a similar situation with Peters on the 2013 superhero movie “Man of Steel.” Peters bought the rights to “Superman” in the 1990s and had to be attached to Snyder’s movie for legal reasons. As Jezebel noted, Peters was involved with “Man of Steel” by name only and executive producer Christopher Nolan even banned him from set.
Peters’ lack of involvement with Cooper’s “A Star Is Born” is confirmed further by the PGA. A guild spokesperson has confirmed Peters will not have a certified PGA Mark on the movie, which means he will not be eligible for the guild’s highest honor, the Darryl F. Zanuck Award, at the PGA Awards next year. While the Academy will decide which credited producers will be nominated should “A Star Is Born” compete for best picture at the Oscars, Variety notes the the PGA determination acts as a strong recommendation. The PGA decides whether or not to give a producer an official credit based on whether or not the person had “substantial involvement” in development, pre-production, production, post-production, and/or marketing.
Peters was sued in 2006 by his former assistant, Shelly Morita, who accused him of sexual harassment on the production of “Superman Returns.” Peters was ordered by a Los Angeles jury in 2011 to pay Morita $3.3 million in damages. Peters was also accused of sexual harassment in 1996 by September Bradford, who was the president of Peters Entertainment at the time, in 1999 by Colleen Bennet, his finance vice president who said he grabbed her body against her will, and in 2007 by Blanca Hernandez, his then-housekeeper.
“A Star Is Born” has earned rave reviews at Venice and TIFF, and many Oscar pundits view it has a major contender in categories across the board. Warner Bros. opens the music drama nationwide October 5.