The Producers Guild of America has determined that Jon Peters is not part of the certified producing team for “A Star Is Born” and won’t be eligible for the PGA’s Darryl F. Zanuck Award as the top feature film.
A guild spokesperson disclosed the determination Tuesday that Peters has not received the PGA Mark. That came following the publication on Jezebel of a detailed report of numerous sexual harassment cases against the producer ranging from 1996 to 2008. Warner Bros. is releasing the Bradley Cooper-Lady Gaga drama on Oct. 5.
Warner Bros. released a brief statement Tuesday saying it will have to continue calling Peters a producer: “Jon Peters’ attachment to this property goes as far back as 1976. Legally, we had to honor the contractual obligation in order to make this film.”
Peters is also not a PGA member. As far as which producers accept the Academy Award for best picture, it’s up to the Motion Picture Academy to ultimately decide which credited producers will be included, although the PGA determination acts as a recommendation.
At least five sexual assault allegations have been made against Peters, who also has producer credits on 1976’s “A Star Is Born,” “Caddyshack,” “The Color Purple,” “Batman,” and 2006’s “Superman Returns,” and an executive producer credit on “Rain Man.” He was sued in 2006 by former assistant Shelly Morita, who alleged she was subjected to sexual harassment and a hostile work environment during the production of “Superman Returns.” Peters denied the allegations, but in 2011, a Los Angeles jury ordered Peters to pay Morita $3.3 million in damages.
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Peters has kept a low profile since then. He received an executive producer credit on 2013’s “Man of Steel,” which had been in the works prior to the Morita suit.
Peters is given the second producing credit in Warner’s official press materials for “A Star Is Born” after Bill Gerber and before Cooper, Todd Phillips, and Lynette Howell Taylor. The film is identified as “A Jon Peters/Bill Gerber/Joint Effort Production.”
Gerber said in a 2017 interview with the Hollywood Reporter that Peters made a notable contribution on getting the film to the finish line: “There were a lot of complicated deals on ‘A Star Is Born,’ a lot of heavy-hitters. And Jon could not have been more helpful in getting it all in line.”
The PGA’s Code of Credits spells out the qualifications for those eligible to receive the “produced by” credit (or PGA Mark) and attaches specific weights to producer functions — development, pre-production, production, post-production, and marketing — and requires a person must have had “substantial involvement” adding up to a majority of those functions to qualify for the PGA credit. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences uses the PGA’s credit determination process as a guideline for which producers are named on best picture nominations.
“A Star Is Born” received warm receptions at its premiere at the Venice Film Festival on Aug. 31 and at the Toronto Film Festival on Sept. 9. Owen Gleiberman wrote in his Venice review for Variety: “‘A Star Is Born’ is that thing we always yearn for but so rarely get to see: a transcendent Hollywood movie.”
But the history of Peters’ harassment allegations could derail the momentum for “A Star Is Born” as awards season heats up.
The earliest allegation came in a 1996 when September Bradford, former assistant of Traci Barone, then-president of Peters Entertainment, alleged sexual harassment and wrongful termination in a lawsuit. Bradford’s testimony details the “hostile work environment” that was encouraged at Peters Entertainment, involving “sexually explicit comments, language, innuendos and jokes” directed at Bradford on a regular basis. Variety reported in 1996 that Peters, Bradford, and the company reached an out of court settlement that was in six figures.
Colleen Bennet, Peters’ finance vice president from September 1996 until August 1998, accused Peters in a 1999 suit of “trying to kiss [her], grabbing her body against her will, conducting meetings in his underwear and exposing his genitals to plaintiff” during the time she worked for him, according to a report in Variety. Bennett’s suit also claimed, per Variety reporting, that Peters attempted to dissuade her from marrying her fiancé Eric Appelbaum, and then fired her three days after her honeymoon. The case was sent to binding arbitration and was dismissed in 1999.
In 2007, Peters’ former housekeeper Blanca Hernandez and two other employees filed a suit against Peters. Hernandez was the only one of the three to allege sexual harassment, claiming that Peters had “systematically sexually harassed [Hernandez] on nearly a daily basis” over the course of her year-long employment with him beginning in 2005, according to TMZ. In 2008, City News Service reported that Hernandez had dropped the suit and the case was dismissed.
Also in 2007, City News Service reported that Adriana and Andrew Silveira, a married couple who formerly worked as Peters’ maintenance employees, sued Peters for allegedly threatening to fire Andrew if Adriana did not have an abortion. When they refused, Andrew was fired. The Silveiras later settled with Peters out of court.
In 2008, Peters was sued again for sexual harassment by Brian Quintana, who said he was subjected to “continuous and pervasive sexual harassment” while working as a co-producer on “Man of Steel” and as senior vice present of Peters Entertainment, according to the New York Post’s Page Six. Peters countersued and the cases were settled in 2010.
The allegations against Peters were added in a petition drive launched last month through Change.org, which had sought a boycott of “A Star Is Born” due to a 2012 photo of Gaga in a costume at what appeared to be a blackface slave auction and castmate Andrew Dice Clay’s past remarks supporting misogyny, racism, and homophobia.
Peters did not respond to request for comment.