U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Bill Murray accosts freelance photographer Peter Simon in Martha's Vineyard restaurant

Incident Details

Date of Incident
August 8, 2018


Public figure
Was the journalist targeted?
REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Actor Bill Murray speaks at the 46th AFI Life Achievement Award ceremony in Los Angeles, California, on June 7, 2018.

— REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
August 8, 2018

Freelance photographer Peter Simon was taking photos of a band inside a restaurant in Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts, when the actor Bill Murray allegedly shoved him and poured a drink on him.

Peter Simon, the 71-year-old brother of singer Carly Simon, is an accomplished photographer who grew up in Martha’s Vineyard. On Aug. 8, 2018, he went to Lola’s, a restaurant on Martha’s Vineyard, on assignment for the MV Times.

Jamie Kageleiry, associate publisher of the MV Times, told Freedom of the Press Foundation that the paper sent Simon to Lola’s to shoot photos of the Marotta Brothers band performing in the restaurant.

“I was not there, and there are conflicting reports, but I do know that we sent Mr. Simon, as a freelancer, to take photographs of the band and the people watching the band,” Kageleiry said.

One of the people at Lola’s watching the band was Bill Murray. Kageleiry said that she did not send Simon to Lola’s to photograph the actor, but Murray was apparently concerned that Simon was taking pictures of him.

“Mr. Murray happened to be in the audience, and was not keen on being photographed,” Kageleiry said. “Mr. Simon said he didn't aim at Mr. Murray. Mr. Murray said he did.”

Simon told the MV Times that he was reviewing pictures that he had taken at the restaurant when Murray physically accosted him, grabbing his shoulders and shoving him against a wall. Simon also said that Murray threatened him with "bodily harm."

Simon told the paper that he did not recognize Murray in the restaurant — “he looks so different than he used to look,” he said — and that both he and Murray asked each other, “Do you know who I am?” He said that he tried to defuse the situation by apologizing to Murray and giving him the peace sign.

But according to Simon, Murray later elbowed him and poured water on him and his camera.

“I’ve never been treated like that in my life,” Simon told the MV Times.

After the altercation, Simon called the police. When Oak Bluffs Police Department officers arrived on the scene, they interviewed Simon, Murray, and “Lola’s” owner Katherine Domitrovich and then summarized the interviews in an incident report:

Simon advised that he was taking pictures of the people in the restaurant and was accosted by Bill Murray. Simon advised that Murray was irate that Simon was taking pictures. Simon told me that he didn’t recognize Murray. Simon told me that shortly thereafter, Murray grabbed him and poured a drink on his shirt. Simon told me that he was not injured but he didn’t think it was right and he wanted an apology.

Murray was visibly upset. He told us that Simon was taking pictures of him and [harassing] him while he was quietly minding his own business.


[Domitrovich] told us that the restaurant was having a normal regular Wednesday dinner service when she was approached by Simon. She advised that Simon claimed that he was on assignment for the MV Times taking pictures when Bill Murray grabbed him and poured a drink on him. She told me that Simon had no business photographing anyone in the restaurant and was generally annoying. She believed that Simon found out that Murray was at Lola’s and he came to specifically take his picture.

Oak Bluffs Police Department Incident #2018004060 Report

Domitrovich later told the Boston Globe that Murray had poured a drink on Simon but had not physically accosted him.

“Nothing went on, other than a glass of water,” she told the Globe. “Peter is taking this to a whole different dimension because he wants the PR. I don’t care about PR. That’s why I don’t want photographers in my place.”

Simon objects to that characterization.

“I’m not a paparazzi-type photographer, I’m just not,” he told the Globe.

According to Showbiz411, Simon has been banned from Lola’s for a year as a result of what happened with Murray.

Kageleiry said that she apologized to Domitrovich for not warning her in advance that the paper was sending a photographer to Lola’s.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].