Bradley Cooper, the star and co-writer/director of the upcoming third remake of A Star Is Born, said in a recent interview that he was unaware of the sexual harassment allegations against one of the people credited as producer on his movie, the notorious Jon Peters.
On Tuesday, Jezebel published a report detailing several lawsuits filed against Peters (which were largely settled out of court). Warner Bros., the movie’s distributor, then distanced itself from Peters in a statement released to Variety that read: “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 previously produced 1976 remake of the film, starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson.)
The Producers Guild of America, additionally, confirmed that Peters had not received a P.G.A. mark on the film, which is reserved for the producers with heavy involvement in the making of a film (a useful distinguishing tool, as those credited as producers on films can have a range of involvement on the movies, from being on set daily to never visiting set once). A Hollywood Reporter profile of Peters from 2017 seemed to indicate that he had a hands-on involvement in this movie, often through his own quotes. The piece, written by THR’s deputy film editor Tatiana Siegel, claimed “the chance to remake A Star Is Born… gradually drew him back into the business,” and went as far to contrast his self-reported experience of being banned from the set of 2013’s Man of Steel (on which he was listed as an executive producer) and raking in tens of millions of dollars. “…His days of being paid tens of millions to stay away from a movie probably are in the past,” reads Siegel’s copy. Additionally, the film’s trailer labels this A Star Is Born as, “A Jon Peters/Bill Gerber/Joint Effort Production.”
In an interview on NPR’s Morning Edition, posted Friday, co-host Rachel Martin asked Cooper, “I have to ask you, one of the producers on the film is a man named Jon Peters. He’s been sued multiple times for sexual harassment. The Producers Guild of America announced recently he would no longer be recognized as a producer on his film. [Note: Per Warner Bros., Peters will remain credited as a producer, just not a P.G.A.-certified producer.] But I wonder as a first-time director, did you think, ‘What kind of a culture am I setting here? I’m the boss. I’m the director.’?”
“It’s so true,” Cooper responded. “It’s a great question.” (Note: Cooper did not respond to Jezebel’s request for comment earlier this week, nor did his co-star Lady Gaga, Warner Bros., or Peters).
Cooper went on to say that Peters was credited as producer because of the “grandfather clause of the movie” and said that Peters was not on set.
Cooper’s full quote reads:
With this property, there are many writers that come before — if you see the end credits, it’s like, there’s 10 writers. And [Jon Peters] was part of the, I guess, the grandfather clause of the movie, and we had to get his consent in order to make the movie. When you’re at the helm, it’s a huge responsibility. And I guess — I mean, first of all, on the set … you have to create an environment where everybody feels safe. Everybody. And there’s no room for disrespect, nothing. And that’s something that you’d have to ask everybody who was involved, but I feel like that’s the environment I created. Luckily, Jon wasn’t there. And if I had known all those things, I would have done it differently. And I guess it’s … I wanted to make the movie, I knew I had to get consent from him, otherwise there’s no film. But I should have checked. I guess that’s the thing.
He’s right, that’s the thing. Because the fact stands that unless Peters was feeling particularly philanthropic the day he granted his permission as rights holder for this film to be made, he stands to profit from it, whether it was via an up-front deal or will come by way of residuals, as his supposedly astronomical profits from the last two Superman movies did (“He says he took home $80 million to $85 million combined for 2006’s Superman Returns and Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel,” said The Hollywood Reporter). For putting more money in Peters’s pocket, A Star is Born is then, at the very least, a case study in the tenaciously sticky residue that Hollywood’s traditionally harassment-permissive culture has left as it attempts to adopt, promote, and exhibit the principles of #MeToo and #TimesUp.