12680599, Sony's pals at the NYT explain their side and pass blame onto Rogen:|
Posted by b.Touch, Fri Dec-19-14 12:15 PM
(recall for the record that Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal's husband was a long-time journalist for the NYT and they have lots of friends over there)
Sony Hack Fallout Includes Unraveling of Relationships in Hollywood
By MICHAEL CIEPLY and BROOKS BARNESDEC. 18, 2014
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LOS ANGELES — As Washington considers a response to an online attack on Sony Pictures, Hollywood is trying to repair relationships that were shattered by the assault.
On Thursday, a day after United States officials identified North Korea as the hand behind the offensive against Sony’s now-canceled comedy “The Interview,” the White House said it was considering “a range of actions” in response. Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, called the hacking a “national security issue.”
Sony shelved “The Interview,” about the assassination of the North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un, after cancellations by theater owners in the face of a terrorist threat. The studio on Thursday was searching for ways to eventually disseminate the film, but, for the moment, it could find none. Satellite operators, cable providers, or digital portals that might be asked to pick up “The Interview” could be exposed to the same online harassment plaguing Sony.
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Workers removed a banner for U.S. Weighs Response to Sony Cyberattack, With North Korea Confrontation PossibleDEC. 18, 2014
James Franco and Seth Rogen in a scene from “The Interview.” Theater owners said they would not show the film.Sony Drops ‘The Interview’ Following Terrorist ThreatsDEC. 17, 2014
Sony dropped plans to release “The Interview.”U.S. Said to Find North Korea Ordered Cyberattack on SonyDEC. 17, 2014
The attack has disrupted the web of executive, business and talent relationships that stitches together Sony’s core moviemaking operation.
Complaints about Adam Sandler, left, were exposed by an online attack on Sony Pictures, headed by Michael Lynton. Credit Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Prominent members of Hollywood’s creative community fumed about what they saw as failure by Sony to make a stand for artistic freedom. Steve Carell called it “a sad day for creative expression,” while Zach Braff described Sony’s move as “a pretty horrible precedent to set.” The filmmaker Judd Apatow and the documentarian Michael Moore also took to social media to lament the demise of “The Interview” as caving to the hackers.
The studio’s relationship with Adam Sandler, the star of Sony comedies like “Grown Ups” and its coming summer tent pole “Pixels,” got singed when online news sites published unvarnished executive complaints about his “mundane, formulaic” films. The disclosure of racially tinged emails from Amy Pascal, the co-chairwoman of the studio, led her to meet in person on Thursday with black leaders including the Rev. Al Sharpton, who had condemned the exchange between her and the producer Scott Rudin as “offensive, insulting” when it first became public.
Financiers are unsure whether to proceed with planned deals to back Sony films, as some talent agents — worried about management stability at Sony and long-term chaos — consider funneling scripts elsewhere. Even Sony’s relations with news outlets have been dealt a lasting blow, with the studio upset about the willingness of some reporters to dig through stolen documents and media contacts given an unusually candid glimpse into how executives try to manipulate coverage.
It is nearly impossible to calculate likely financial losses associated with “The Interview” until any option for displaying the movie has been closed off. For the moment, the studio is reluctant to consider the option of charging for it online, on the assumption that few consumers would share credit cards with a company under attack by hackers.
Over the last week, Sony’s attackers began threatening the company’s partners in the entertainment industry, beyond just theaters and theater chains, according to security experts who have been consulting with the companies. Several Sony vendors mentioned in the stolen data trove have begun receiving threatening correspondence from the attackers. Security experts said that “anxiety levels were high” and many vendors complained on Thursday that Sony’s decision to halt the release of “The Interview” might only embolden attackers.
In a more human calculus, a significant loser in the hacking may be Seth Rogen, the writer-director-star who became the principal public face of “The Interview.” There was a growing sentiment on the Sony lot that Mr. Rogen and his filmmaking colleagues had exposed employees and the audience to digital damage and physical threat by pushing his outrageous humor to the limit and backing the film to the last.
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Trailer: ‘The Interview’
Trailer: ‘The Interview’
A preview of the film. Video by Columbia Pictures on Publish Date December 17, 2014. Photo by Internet Video Archive.
The impression that Mr. Rogen overreached was enforced by the publication of an email in which he reprimanded Ms. Pascal for pressing for relatively minor changes in the assassination scene. “This is now a story of Americans changing their movie to make North Koreans happy,” Mr. Rogen wrote. “It’s a very damning story.”
Mr. Rogen on Thursday declined through a spokesman to comment. Among his future projects at Sony is “Sausage Factory,” an R-rated animated film about a frankfurter’s existential crisis.
The strains between Mr. Rogen and Ms. Pascal unraveled only one thread in a Hollywood fabric that was thoroughly shredded by the hacking and ensuing threat. Much of the damage centered on the action, or lack thereof, among high industry executives who never stepped forward to assist Sony.
Wednesday’s decision to withdraw the film brought public silence from the Motion Picture Association of America and its chief executive, Christopher J. Dodd, who had remained quiet through a three-week media onslaught on Sony. People associated with Mr. Dodd, speaking privately, said he failed to mobilize competing studio chiefs in support of the studio, partly because they feared drawing attention to themselves and partly because they doubted that public statements or actions would be effective.
That failure has drawn criticism from senior theater executives, who — again privately, as they will need to work with Mr. Dodd and the studios — blame the trade association and Sony for pushing onto them the onus for canceling the film, rather than Sony’s taking responsibility for a decision that was sure to offend some freedom-minded filmmakers. Sony sees it differently, having received clear signals that the theater chains simply did not want the movie.
Another set of broken or bruised relationships involves black stars and filmmakers, a group with whom Sony formerly had very sturdy ties. More than a few black moviemakers — notably Kevin Hart, Will Packer, Ice Cube and Will Smith — have flourished at Sony under Ms. Pascal and Clint Culpepper, who runs Sony’s Screen Gems unit.
But Ms. Pascal and Mr. Culpepper both got burned by the email dump, which included messages in which she traded racial jokes with the producer Scott Rudin about President Obama’s supposed taste in black-themed movies, while Mr. Culpepper was discovered calling Mr. Hart “a whore” in reference to growing salary demands.
Apologies, public and private, weren’t enough. Mr. Sharpton took aim at Ms. Pascal, saying her comments reflected a “troubling” lack of diversity in Hollywood. Mr. Sharpton notably did not call for Ms. Pascal’s ouster after their 90-minute meeting. He said Ms. Pascal had committed to further action aimed at improving diversity in Hollywood movies and television shows.