|Born||John H. Peters
June 2, 1945
Van Nuys, California
Peters was born in Van Nuys, California, the son of Helen (née Pagano), a receptionist, and Jack Peters, a cook who owned a Hollywood diner. He is of Cherokee (father) and Italian (mother) descent. His mother's family owned a renowned Rodeo Drive salon in Beverly Hills. Jack Peters died when his son was 10, and Helen later remarried.
Peters went into the family hair styling business on Rodeo Drive in Hollywood, where he made many film industry connections. Peters designed a short wig that Barbra Streisand wore for the comedy For Pete's Sake (1974), and the couple began a relationship. He produced Streisand's album Butterfly (1974) and gained a producing credit on Streisand's remake of A Star Is Born (1976), although the extent of his contribution has been disputed. He worked under Peter Guber for the next 10 years, with whom he headed Sony Pictures Entertainment for two years until Guber fired him. The two men were the subject of the book Hit and Run: How Jon Peters and Peter Guber Took Sony for a Ride in Hollywood by Nancy Griffin and Kim Masters.
Superman Lives, Superman Returns and Man of Steel
In the early 1990s, he bought the rights to the Superman film franchise from Warner Bros. In his Q&A/comedy DVD, An Evening With Kevin Smith, writer/director Kevin Smith related an anecdote about working for Peters when he was hired to write a script for a new Superman movie, then called Superman Reborn, and later renamed Superman Lives. According to Smith, Peters had expressed disdain for most of Superman's iconic characteristics by demanding that Superman was never to fly or appear in his trademark costume. He also suggested Sean Penn as being ideal for the role, based on his performance as a death row inmate in Dead Man Walking saying that Penn had the eyes of a "caged animal, a fucking killer." Peters then demanded that the third act of the film include a fight between Superman and a giant spider, to be unveiled in an homage to King Kong. Peters later produced the 1999 steampunk western Wild Wild West, the finale of which features a giant mechanical spider.
Smith met Peters after completing a script and Peters instructed him to include a robot sidekick for Brainiac, a fight scene between Brainiac and two polar bears, and a marketable "space dog" pet, similar to Star Wars character Chewbacca. Smith inserted them into his script, but the project was abandoned and the script discarded.
In Look, Up in the Sky: The Amazing Story of Superman, Jon Peters admitted that the Superman franchise was problematic for him: "The elements that I was focusing on were away from the heart, it was more leaning towards 'Star Wars' in a sense, you know. I didn't realize the human part of it, I didn't have that."
Jon Peters was a producer for the adaptation of the Sandman comics for Warner Brothers, which met with controversy. One draft script commissioned by Peters was reviewed on the Internet at Ain't It Cool News, and was met with scorn. Sandman creator Neil Gaiman called the last screenplay that Warner Brothers would send him "...not only the worst Sandman script I've ever seen, but quite easily the worst script I've ever read." By 2001, the project had become stranded in development hell.
In a 2005 interview, Gaiman commented: "But Sandman movies, they just got increasingly appalling. It was really strange. They started out hiring some really good people and you got Elliott and Rossio and Roger Avary came in and did a draft. They were all solid scripts. And then Jon Peters fired all of them and got in some people who take orders, and who wanted fistfights and all this stuff. It had no sensibility and it was just...they were horrible."
Nikke Finke's Deadline Hollywood blog reported on a book proposal for the autobiography of Jon Peters, written by him and Los Angeles writer William Stadiem. Peters reportedly intended to write about his life with Streisand and a string of other celebrity lovers. In 2009 he subsequently withdrew from the HarperCollins book deal after adverse publicity triggered by the leaking of the proposal and potential lawsuits.
In August 2011, a Los Angeles jury ordered Jon Peters to pay a former assistant $3.3 million after finding she was subjected to sexual harassment and a hostile work environment during the production of Superman Returns.
Selected filmography as producer and executive producer
- Griffin, Nancy; Masters, Kim (1996). Hit & Run: How Jon Peters and Peter Guber Took Sony For a Ride in Hollywood. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-80931-1.
- According to the State of California. California Birth Index, 1905–1995. Center for Health Statistics, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California. Searchable at http://www.familytreelegends.com/records/39461
- "Jon Peters Biography (1945?-)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved May 2, 2010.
- Shah, Diane K. (October 22, 1989). "The Producers". The New York Times. Retrieved April 9, 2010.
- "Jon Peters biography" Yahoo Movies
- Barbra by Donald Zec and Anthony Fowles, chapter 17
- Nancy Griffin; Kim Masters (1997). Hit & Run: How Jon Peters and Peter Guber Took Sony For A Ride In Hollywood. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-80931-1
- on YouTube
- Rossen, Jake (2008). Superman Vs. Hollywood: How Fiendish Producers, Devious Directors, and Warring Writers Grounded an American Icon. Chicago Review Press. p. 217. ISBN 1-55652-731-4.
- Cronin, Brian (2009). Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed. Penguin Group. p. 25. ISBN 0-452-29532-7.
- on YouTube
- Moriarty takes a look at what Jon Peters has done with Neil Gaiman's SANDMAN property!!! – Ain't It Cool News: The best in movie, TV, DVD, and comic book news
- Comics2Film: Sandman
- "Interview: Neil Gaiman and Joss Whedon", Time, 2005
- "IT SHOULD BE CALLED 'DICKHEAD': Why Jon Peters' Book Proposal Sets New Low", Deadline Hollywood
- "PETERS PULLS PLUG ON TELL-ALL", The New York Post, May 23, 2009
- Film producer ordered to pay $3 million in sex case
- Hollywood Docket: 'Superman' Producer Jon Peters Ordered To Pay $3.3 Mil in Sexual Harassment Trial