On Wednesday, the Atlantic released a bombshell investigative report detailing decades of sexual allegations against Bohemian Rhapsody director Bryan Singer, who has repeatedly been accused of preying on underage boys.
But some of Hollywood’s powerful gatekeepers don’t seems to care about a 12-month-long investigation, no matter how many sources it cites. (In this case: 50.)
Avi Lerner, whose production company Millennium is financing Singers’ upcoming film, Red Sonja, told Variety on Thursday that he’s standing by the former X-Men director, calling the Atlantic piece “fake news,” while reiterating just how much money Singer is worth to a project like his.
“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,” Lerner said. “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 could receive up to $10 million for the job—a remarkably hefty sum for a director who was fired from Bohemian Rhapsody before filming was complete, reportedly because he’d clashed with actors and failed to show up to set.
In the past, Lerner has faced allegations of his own. In 2017, a former female employee sued Lerner’s Millennium Films, best known for producing Rambo and The Expendables, claiming Lerner had subjected her to a “discriminatory, harassing and misogynistic work environment, hostile to female employees.” The suit also claimed a female VP was criticized for not properly producing a movie “because she was too busy having sex with her boyfriend.”
Lerner said of the suit, “It’s all lies. It’s all a joke.”
Singer has also vociferously denied the accusations against him, calling the most recent investigation a “homophobic smear piece,” and asserting that it “rehashes claims from a bogus lawsuit.”
Among the new sources cited in the Atlantic piece is a man who says he was a 13-year-old extra on Singer’s film Apt Pupil, filmed at an Altadena middle school, when the director fondled his genitals without consent. Another anonymous accuser alleges that he was younger than 18 when he and Singer had sex.
In a statement to the press, GLAAD disavowed Singer and his claim of homophobia, writing that the director is using the word to deflect from allegations against him. “The industry cannot let those who perpetuate harms against anyone—especially vulnerable young people—go unnoticed or unchecked any longer,” the statement said.
Certain individuals refuse to hear that message. One disturbing detail from the Atlantic’s investigation is the long list of industry people who knew Singer was throwing parties where certain guests appeared to be underage and yet did nothing. One source quoted remembers feeling “shocked” by how young Singers’ guests looked.
“’It felt like a high-school party,’ the friend says. He remembers wondering: How did all these boys get here? Where are their parents?”
If Singer’s alleged predatory behavior was able to continue unabated, it’s because people in the industry protected him, and they did so because he made them lots and lots of money. And now this pattern—so cynical in its calculation and so heartbreaking in its outcome—seems to be repeating all over again.