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Gal pal of generous Viacom boss says she got nothing

Updated: 2010-07-30 09:46

Gal pal of generous Viacom boss says she got nothing

LOS ANGELES  - Viacom Inc executive chairman Sumner Redstone's news-making gifts to young women are proving irksome to his longtime lady friend, Christine Peters.

Peters is well aware that her longtime production deal at Viacom-owned Paramount -- which ended last year -- was long perceived by many in the industry and even within Paramount as a favor that was done for her because of her close relationship to the boss, now 87.

But Peters said she earned everything she got and never was on the receiving end of the sort of largesse that has been making the papers lately. "No one's made it easy on me -- I'll tell you that," she told The Hollywood Reporter.

Peters was unwilling to comment on recent reports that Redstone had given gifts of stock worth tens of thousands of dollars to party girl Rohini Singh and aspiring rock singer Heather Naylor. Redstone also arranged for executives at Showtime to give Singh a job, and ordered MTV to develop a reality series about Naylor's band, the Electric Barbarellas.

In her case, Peters said, Redstone played it by the book.

"I think because the spotlight was so much on me and Sumner, the less he could do for me," she said. At the time she first got to know him, "He was under a microscope, and his hands were tied, and he was married. How could he do anything for me?"

When asked whether Redstone routinely makes lavish gifts to friends, Peters replied, "Not that I know of."

Peters' relationship with Redstone was perceived as precipitating the 1999 breakup of the mogul's 52-year marriage to his wife, Phyllis. At this point, Peters -- once married to hairdresser-turned-producer Jon Peters -- said she is not dating Redstone, but he is a friend. Her production deal at Paramount ended in July 2009, though she still has movies in development at the studio.

Peters said she had been working at Paramount in partnership with producer Robert Evans for several years before she met Redstone. She had met Evans through her job representing American films overseas. (Peters said she speaks Danish and Norwegian, among other languages.)

While partners with Evans, she said, she worked on films including "The Phantom" and "Jade." More importantly, she came up with the idea for "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days," a 2003 hit for Paramount that she says has returned hundreds of millions of dollars into Paramount's coffers.

Peters said she met Redstone when Evans' deal was up for renewal and Redstone asked for a presentation of their films in development. Among them was her eventual hit.

A longtime Paramount executive acknowledged that Peters had brought in a successful film, saying, "We were actually surprised." But this insider added that Peters' ability to keep a deal for years after that film's release also was surprising -- especially given Hollywood's recessionary environment.

"That would be a long time to have a deal in place (on the strength of the 2003 hit)," the exec said.

In May 1999, Peters said, she was in Paris on a sightseeing trip while Redstone was there on business. "We were walking down the street with my two kids and my mother, and (the paparazzi) lucked out and got a shot of the two of us," she said. Redstone's wife used the photo against him in the divorce proceeding, Peters said.

"Next thing I knew, we were supposedly getting engaged and married, all crazy stuff," she said. Peters has told friends that Redstone proposed after his divorce and became enraged when she hesitated. After that, he married schoolteacher Paula Fortunato; that marriage also ended in divorce. His friendship with Peters never missed much of a beat.

Media reports have continued to link Peters with Redstone romantically. In February, the New York Post reported that she and Redstone were spotted having dinner on a Friday night at Il Piccolino in West Hollywood and again two nights later -- on Valentine's Day -- in Chinatown. Such sightings stoked speculation that their relationship was going strong.

"We've had plenty of dinners where nothing's happened," Peters said. "But that one odd dinner throws everything out on (the New York Post's gossip section) Page Six."