More than 24 hours after The Atlantic published a bombshell exposé about Bryan Singer and underage boys, Millennium Films has weighed in on the director’s fate with regards to its reboot of the film Red Sonja. Even after being accused by four men of having sex with them when they were younger than the age of consent, Singer is keeping his job.
“I continue to be in development for Red Sonja and Bryan Singer continues to be attached,” read a statement from producer Avi Lerner to The Hollywood Reporter.
Lerner added, “The over $800 million Bohemian Rhapsody has grossed, making it the highest grossing drama in film history, is testament to his remarkable vision and acumen. I know the difference between agenda driven fake news and reality, and I am very comfortable with this decision. In America people are innocent until proven otherwise.”
Singer is now being handled by crisis PR guru Howard Bragman, who also is representing Red Sonja.
It is a shocking development, given the severity of the claims and considering the number of Hollywood actors, producers and executives who have seen their careers evaporate after facing less damaging accusations. The journalists spent 12 months investigating the Bohemian Rhapsody director, beginning work on their piece — originally slated for Esquire — as Hollywood’s #MeToo movement was still gaining momentum (the two reporters say their piece was killed by Hearst higher-ups).
Sources say Millennium had been inundated with calls and emails over the past day calling Millennium complicit if it continued to work with Singer, but Lerner decided to stay the course.
The journalists spoke to more than 50 sources, including four men who spoke about their relationship with the writer-director for the first time. Victor Valdovinos — the only subject to use his name — told The Atlantic that he was a 13-year-old extra on the set of Apt Pupil when a 30-something Singer sexually assaulted him. (That film sparked a series of lawsuits by underage extras who were forced to disrobe entirely for a shower scene.)
Another man claimed that he had sex with Singer’s when he was 17. Another claimed that he and Singer had sex when he was 15. Both incidents are said to have happened in 1997.
One accuser said that Singer and a network of friends had people who brought them boys. “If you weren’t young and cute enough to be their boy, you could still ingratiate yourself by bringing boys to them,” he is quoted as saying.
In December 2017, Singer was accused of rape by Cesar Sanchez-Guzman, who said in a lawsuit that Singer raped him while aboard a yacht in Seattle in 2003, when he was 17. Singer has denied Sanchez-Guzman’s allegations. Perhaps prophetically, Sanchez-Guzman told the magazine that “the industry will brush things under the rug and pretend nothing happened.”
Even without the allegations of rape, Singer was an erratic presence on set. He was fired near the end of production of Bohemian Rhapsody in December 2017, days before Sanchez-Guzman filed suit. Executives at 20th Century Fox made the move largely due to Singer’s unexplained absences from set. He was replaced by Eddie the Eagle director Dexter Fletcher, but he was still credited as sole director of the film due to DGA rules.
Still, Millennium hired Singer to direct its reboot of a female-empowered Red Sonja that is expected to begin shooting in Bulgaria in the spring. Even more shocking, the studio was willing to pay Singer his full quote of $10 million if certain box office milestones were met. Those negotiations came out in Singer’s favor despite the fact that he had no agent after being dropped by WME.
At the time, Millennium execs said privately that they were willing to take the chance given the prerelease buzz on Bohemian Rhapsody, which has proved to be a huge hit, with $800 million to date worldwide at the box office. The film landed five Academy Award nominations this week, including best picture.
In the immediate aftermath of The Atlantic article, Singer released the following statement saying the story “rehashes claims from bogus lawsuits.”
“The last time I posted about this subject, Esquire magazine was preparing to publish an article written by a homophobic journalist who has a bizarre obsession with me dating back to 1997. After careful fact-checking and, in consideration of the lack of credible sources, Esquire chose not to publish this piece of vendetta journalism,” Singer stated.
Singer added, “That didn’t stop this writer from selling it to The Atlantic. It’s sad that The Atlantic would stoop to this low standard of journalistic integrity. Again, I am forced to reiterate that this story rehashes claims from bogus lawsuits filed by a disreputable cast of individuals willing to lie for money or attention. And it is no surprise that, with Bohemian Rhapsody being an award-winning hit, this homophobic smear piece has been conveniently timed to take advantage of its success.”
Social welfare organization Time’s Up released a statement on Thursday calling for claims against Singer to be investigated and noted, “Those who hire alleged abusers must recognize that these decisions not only subject their employees to possibly unsafe working conditions, but also perpetuate a broken system that rewards powerful people and allows them to act without consequence.”