Paul Schrader Defends Pal Peggy Siegal: "I Have Great Affection for Her"

Though Siegal has been getting the cold shoulder amid Jeffery Epstein controversy, the 71-year-old writer-director still supports the longtime New York publicist.
Charley Gallay/Getty Images

Peggy Siegal's been getting the cold shoulder since it was revealed July 10 in The Hollywood Reporter that she used to accept money from and pal around with accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. Netflix, FX and Annapurna cut ties with the longtime New York publicist, and HBO, which worked with Siegal on a “case by case” basis, also confirmed to THR that the company has “no projects lined up with her nor do we plan to.”

But Siegal, 72, has at least one friend in the industry: 71-year-old writer-director Paul Schrader. “I’ve known Peggy since American Gigolo in 1979. I have great affection for her and have always found her to be thoroughly unprincipled. That’s who a publicist is. That’s the job description. You pay them to promote you or your product. There is nothing politically correct about the occupation. It’s the same job as a lobbyist or a criminal defense lawyer. One cannot advocate or defend criminal activity but everything else is in the grey area we as a society have assigned to them. And they make a living at it. Of course, some will say “she should have known better,” but what person is above their very job description? How many publicists are now working to promote anti-black, anti-homosexual, anti-woman policies? Netflix, FX, Disney, Annapurna, would you like to see a list of those PR consultants and lobbyists? I bet some of them are on your payroll.”

Siegal politely declined comment. 

This story first appeared in the July 31 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.