The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Jon Peters' new tell-all book proposal: Who had it first?

May 22, 2009 |  2:54 pm

One of the great reads of the week was Nikki Finke's "exclusive" unveiling in her blog of "Studio Head," an irresistibly entertaining book proposal from Jon Peters, the former Sony Pictures studio mogul who was one of Hollywood's most colorful loose cannons. His tell-absolutely-all autobiography, written with William Stadiem, recently sold to HarperCollins, reportedly for $700,000. I still don't know what was better: Nikki's Def-Con Alert reaction ("I have never read a more vile betrayal of everyone and everything in Hollywood") or the unintentional humor of the proposal itself ("Imagine a contemporary, nonfiction 'What Makes Sammy Run,' but with a lovable protagonist").

Jonpeters Nikki's post was a great read, loaded with proposal excerpts that detail Peters' childhood, his hairdresser triumphs, his Svengali-like relationship with Barbra Streisand, his studio deals and his tumultuous partnership with Peter Guber (who gave Nikki a statement calling the proposal a "work of fiction"). Let's just say the tone of the proposal is distinctly "Dynasty"-esque. In the midst of an enthusiastic recounting of Peters' many amorous escapades, the proposal dryly notes: "When it came to women, Jon was fearless and Olympicly competitive."

I have to admit that I was impressed by Nikki's scoop, at least far more impressed than veteran Hollywood journalist Kim Masters, who complains that it's a stretch for Finke to call her post an "exclusive" when Masters did an incredibly similar post for the Daily Beast more than a month ago -- on April 15 to be exact. Masters' post includes many of the same details, including a few Finke didn't have. According to Masters, when Peters pitched the book to Random House, he not only sent a top editor there a huge pile of orchids, but included a note with an offer to cut her hair.

I'd be the first to say that Finke's post, which offers far more excerpts from the proposal than Masters' account, is the juicier read. But I also think Masters has a good case to make that, since she was first with the news, if anyone is going to brag about having an exclusive it should be her. Masters says her Daily Beast editor asked Finke to correct the "exclusive" tag, but to no avail. As I write this, it's still up.

So Masters, who co-wrote "Hit & Run," a dishy 1996 account of Peters and Guber's rise and fall, is feeling a teeny bit wronged. As she puts it: "It's funny because the book proposal recycles a lot of material that was in 'Hit & Run.' Obviously I don't have exclusive rights to the Jon Peters story but now it looks like I don't even have exclusive rights to my own exclusive. I guess you have to give Nikki credit -- she defends her exclusives even if someone else broke the story the month before."

Photo of Jon Peters by Kevin Winter / Getty Images