Amy Pascal of Sony has found herself in the hot-seat lately over hacks and leaks out of her company. While the hacking of copies of entire films is one thing, it was the presumed-confidential information in emails that caught lots of attention.
Amy Pascal is co-chairman of Sony Pictures. She is known in Hollywood for having an instinct when it comes to picking movie projects that will become hits. Pascal started as a secretary in the film business, but clawed her way to the top by picking winners and never taking crap.
When the Sony hacking attack started, email systems were compromised, Twitter accounts were hijacked, and entire movies were stolen and leaked onto file-sharing sites. Films like Fury, Annie, Still Alice, Mr. Turner and To Write Love on Her Arms are all out there for anyone who knows how to use Bittorrent with a VPN. This is a serious blow. Back in the summer, Expendables 3 got leaked like that and box office receipts were never up to expectations.
Experts suspect that the hack was perpetrated by North Korea, which is angry over Sony Pictures’ recent release, The Interview. The film protrays Seth Rogen and James Franco as assassins who kill Kim Jon Un. The Korean government has called the film “a blatant act of terrorism and war” and would lead to “merciless” retaliation. The tech characteristics of the hack have features that North Korea has used in cyber activities before, leading to the suspicion that they are behind this one.
But Pascal’s emails are what have been coming back to bite her.
Pascal joked about whether President Obama prefers movies about freed slaves and other black themes. That led to an apology from her:
“The content of my e-mails to Scott were insensitive and inappropriate but are not an accurate reflection of who I am,” Pascal said in a statement. “Although this was a private communication that was stolen, I accept full responsibility for what I wrote and apologize to everyone who was offended.”
But other embarrassing things came out of the Sony hack. One is that men are paid more than women at Sony, even in the films. Jennifer Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars for American Hustle. And Amy Pascal herself is the only woman at Sony who is paid more than $1 million in salary.
Movie producer Scott Rudin called Angelina Jolie a “minimally talented spoiled brat.” Rudin was also involved in the emails about President Obama.
Sony had collected lots of information about employees’ health issues, including premature births, cancer, and liver problems. Aliases of certain actors were revealed, as well as spoiler news about upcoming films.
In the end, the question is whether Amy Pascal will still have a job at Sony when the dust settles.
Deadline asked this week:
“Is it possible their track records for quality, thoughtful films and collaborations with top talent can be set aside and that Rudin and Pascal could be tarred and defined by momentary lapses and poor attempts at humor that paint them as being racially insensitive, in e-mails meant to be private? … People in town are wondering how long Pascal and the studio can, under the guise of not dignifying the damage caused by these stolen documents, continue to weather an unprecedented media assault without saying anything.”