The drip-by-drip revelation of internal communications at Sony Pictures has top executives at the studio wishing they could rewind history to the moment before they pushed the “Send” button on e-mails that have resulted in red faces and grovelling apologies.
Co-chairman Amy Pascal may even lose her job, sources told the New York Daily News.
“Amy will be getting fired to set an example,” the source said on the weekend.
While discussing a breakfast at which she would be meeting President Barack Obama, Pascal emailed producer Scott Rudin saying: “Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO” – a reference to the Quentin Tarantino film Django Unchained, which is about a freed slave, the Guardian reported.
She continued along these lines, asking if she should see if Obama liked Lee Daniels’ The Butler, about a black man who served eight US presidents, and Think Like a Man, an ensemble romantic comedy featuring many prominent black actors.
The Rev. Al Sharpton, a black civil rights activist who spoke to Pascal after that email exchange was made public, was among those who questioned her future at Sony.
“She kept saying over and over again that’s not who she is,” Sharpton told the Daily News.
“She apologized over and over. But I told her that when I listen to the words, if they were said by somebody of another race about somebody of another race, they would not be tolerated.”
Rudin also apologized.
Obama may forgive him, but will movie star Angelina Jolie, whom he called a “minimally talented spoiled brat” in another email exchange?
Not to be outdone, Pascal also referred to A-list actor Leonardo DiCaprio in another email as “despicable”.
The Sony leaks — which included actors’ salaries, the as-yet-unreleased movie Annie and the script for a new James Bond movie — are the work of hackers calling themselves Guardians of Peace.
The group apparently tried to prevent the release by Sony of The Interview, which makes fun of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
Meanwhile, security researchers warn that hackers could be preparing attacks on other major film studios, the Guardian said.
Sean Sullivan, senior adviser and researcher at the security company F-Secure, said he believes the purpose of the Sony hack was, in fact, extortion.
“If it was just hacktivists, they’d have released everything all at once,” he said. “But these releases, it’s like they’re shooting hostages. One thing one day, another the next. This is a really different tactic from what we usually see.”
The hackers emailed five top Sony Pictures executives on Nov. 21, three days before they began leaking the files, and demanded monetary compensation.
The executives appear to have ignored the message.
On Nov. 25, the hackers paralyzed the studio’s computer systems, forcing the firm to send some staff home, while others had to use pen, paper and fax machines across its international offices.
But over the past week, the hackers, who appear to have gained access to the computers of every executive at the film studio, have released the entire email archives of executives.
Maybe studio executives will have to rely on pen, paper and fax machines in future when they want to insult film stars or the US president.
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