Jon Peters - Sex, drugs and shampoo

He's a Hollywood hairdresser-turned-movie mogul and now Jon Peters is preparing to publish some rather revealing memoirs. Gill Pringle reports

In an era of Gawker Stalker, Twitter and TMZ – where photographs of stars behaving badly are instantly beamed out for the immediate gratification of billions of internet users – celebrity watchers are not easily shocked.

So it's hard to imagine who exactly might be scandalised by the proposed revelations of a 63-year-old former hairdresser-turned-studio-boss involving fellow old-timers such as Jack Nicholson and Barbra Streisand.

Jack Nicholson and hookers! Well, no great surprise there. Barbara Walters parading in her underwear 35 years ago! Who cares? And Barbra Streisand, a diva! Gosh, who knew?

Nevertheless, this week the New York Post reported former Sony Pictures boss Jon Peters to have inked a $875,000 deal to publish his memoir, tentatively entitled Studio Head.

In truth, few folk associated with Sony Pictures today even remember Peters, who, together with his partner Peter Guber, was head of Sony's Columbia Pictures between 1989 and 1991, during which time Guber produced Batman. Peters fled the fold less than a year later, however, following the box-office bomb that was Brian de Palma's version of Bonfire of the Vanities, starring Tom Hanks and Melanie Griffith.

A case in point is Sony's current wunderkind, Michael Bay, who executive produced and directed the studio's 2007 mega-blockbuster Transformers, together with this summer's hotly-touted sequel. Talking to the Independent earlier this week, Bay expressed disbelief at Peters' proposed memoirs: "He's really sold a book? Jon Peters was at Sony? I didn't know that. I guess that was before my time," said Bay, whose other hit films over the past decade include Armageddon, Pearl Harbor and The Island. "I recently met him for the first time. I liked him."

Pressed further as to whether anyone should seriously be worried about Peters' memoirs, he laughed: "I don't know. I'm not worried. I don't really have any secrets. I wish I did." Bay's Transformers is co-executive produced by Steven Spielberg, a man who clearly isn't fond of Peters – to the extent that he famously had a provision in one contract explicitly barring Peters and Guber from his set.

Most Hollywood executives today express surprise that anyone would even be interested in what Peters might have to say. "It's all such old hat. Does anyone really care today?" asked one insider. "Sure, he dated Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jacqueline Bisset and Kim Basinger but who really cares? Peters is strictly for the Viagra crowd."

The very fact that Peters allegedly told one prospective publisher that Barbra Streisand might even help him publicise the book, suggests that there can be little scandalous dish about his former love, whom he famously wooed in the early 1970s during his days shampooing celebrity hair at his trendy Rodeo Drive salon.

Using Streisand to piggyback his way into Hollywood, he produced her A Star is Born remake which became the second highest grossing film of 1976 as well as personally netting him a $15m salary and Streisand an Oscar for the film's theme song, "Evergreen".

If Peters earned as many enemies as he did friends during his Hollywood reign, then, together with Guber, he also co-produced many bona-fide hits including The Color Purple, The Witches of Eastwick, Flashdance and Rain Man.

Blogging on the online news site The Daily Beast, Kim Masters – who co-authored the 1997 book Hit & Run: How Jon Peters and Peter Guber took Sony for a Ride in Hollywood – wished HarperCollins and Peters' current ghostwriter William Stadiem well: "Dude, you will have plenty of material. But good luck checking the facts. From the minute Peters decided to cooperate with Nancy Griffin and me as we wrote Hit & Run, the challenge was to make sure that the stories he told us were true," wrote Masters.

"He loved to embellish and we were determined not to let him slip one past us. He was equally determined to burnish his legend, intent on getting us to write that he had pocketed $100m from his disastrous tenure as co-chairman of what is now Sony Pictures. That was a claim that he could not verify and it was one of several tales that hit the cutting-room floor because they seemed to be inflated way beyond recognition."

In reviewing Hit & Run, Publishers Weekly described it as: "basically the story of two boys who never grew up, but ended up running Sony-owned Columbia Pictures into the ground."

Despite enduring criticism and accusations of chauvinism, Peters' films have received more than 200 nominations, as well as winning numerous Oscars and Grammys. The Internet Movie Database reports his combined worldwide box- office grosses as exceeding $6bn.

If the movie industry would like to write him off, Peters is in no hurry to disappear. Two years ago, he received a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame while rumours suggest that Beyonce Knowles is set to do a remake of A Star is Born.

Four-times divorced, he has five children including two daughters with his first wife, the producer Christine Forsyth, and a son with his second wife, the actress Lesley Ann Warren.

One thing is for sure, if Peters' proposed memoirs ever see the light of day, they will doubtless paint him in a far more favorable light than in Masters and Griffin's tome.

Masters further claimed that: "The Studio Head proposal also describes Peters' pursuit of Jack Nicholson to play the Joker in Batman thus: 'Jon took Jack on a whore- and drug-fuelled global joyride to see the Batman sets in London. That was one of the most expensive and decadent junkets in cinema history. Jon basically turned a staid London hotel into the Playboy Mansion, with strippers, hookers, masseuses, coke dealers, and more, plus champagne and foie gras room service that put Adnan Khashoggi's stays to shame. Jack couldn't say no to a good time like this, and he succumbed to Jon's relentless charms.' (Nicholson's representatives did not respond to a request for comment.)"

Today, Peters presumably hopes to turn a corner on what has been an unfortunate past year, during which he was slapped with a sexual harassment suit as well as facing ongoing litigation surrounding a 2006 drunk-driving conviction – although a court ruled last month that he will avoid jail time if he completes a 36-month probation programme by 2010.

Mindy Peters – who despite being the fourth ex Mrs Peters – remains Peters's biggest fan: "Jon is a very unusual and colourful person. Take it from me – we were married, divorced and now we're back together again.

"But I don't think anyone should be too worried about his book. More than anything I think it will make people laugh out loud. Its pretty much the story of Jon's life from the day he was born up until today. He's lived about 20 lifetimes and been on many wild adventures.

Everyone knows about Jon the Casanova, but he's much more than that. He has so many stories to tell that he's already discussing writing a whole series of books. And, of course, it will be a movie too. Naturally. The whole thing will be in Jon's own words. Well, Jon's own words as told to a ghostwriter."

Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'