Sony is only getting more coal in its stocking this Christmas. Not only has its dirty linen of embarrassing e-mails been hung out to dry, its working scripts and gobs of personal data have been exposed. Bring on the lawsuits! Oy.
And, in the face of creepy threats, Sony’s $44 million-dollar raunchy comedy, “The Interview,” starring Seth Rogen and James Franco has now officially been yanked from release. This after Sony already spent $35 million to promote the flick. “The Interview” was expected to pull in $30 million in just the first few days.
One can’t help but wonder what the heck Sony Pictures Entertainment was thinking when it said, “Gee, let’s make a vulgar comedy about assassinating Kim Jong-un, the wacko leader of North Korea.”
I’d like to come to Sony’s defense and say that no one at the company could’ve predicted that it would be the victim of a cyberwar, but reports have come out that Sony was fully aware of the vulnerabilities in its data system and never bothered to take the necessary precautions.
Tsk, tsk, Sony, you’ve been naughty. And North Korea, you’re not nice.
Ever since the Nov. 24 hack attack, Sony has been feeling the pain, and it’s only getting worse. Yesterday, The Associated Press reported, “Federal investigators have now connected the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. to North Korea.” The information came from an unnamed U.S. official who “was not authorized to openly discuss an ongoing criminal case.”
On Tuesday, the Sony hackers, who call themselves the Guardians of Peace, sent out another scary missive. The wording is awkward, indicating its auteur speaks English as a second language:
“Warning: We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places ‘The Interview’ be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to. Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made. The world will be full of fear.
“Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.) Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment. All the world will denounce the SONY.”
At first, the Obama administration was not directly accusing Pyongyang, aka North Korea, for the attack, saying only that the U.S. was investigating the threats. Yesterday, President Obama told ABC News, “The cyberattack is very serious. We’re investigating and we’re taking it seriously. We’ll be vigilant. If we see something that we think is serious and credible then we’ll alert the public. But for now, my recommendation would be that people go to the movies.”
I don’t know, the shooting in the Aurora, Colo., movie theater was not that long ago; people are still easily spooked and that’s not paranoia.
NBC News said that officials told them the hacking attack originated outside North Korea, but the individuals behind it were acting on orders from the North Koreans.
Sony had already canceled the New York City premiere of “The Interview,” which had been scheduled to take place today, Dec. 18, but after so many movie theater companies — Regal Cinemas, AMC, Cinemark, Cineplex, Carmike, Bow Tie, ArcLight, and more — decided not to show the film, Sony canceled the release and said that it had no plans at this time to distribute it via DVD or online. It’s a shame. With all of this screaming publicity, the movie would be solid gold for the studio; instead it looks like this debacle will cost the company millions.
Hollywood is freaking out. “Do we stop releasing every movie that people anonymously say not to release?” filmmaker Judd Apatow, who launched Franco’s and Rogen’s careers on his 1999-2000 TV series “Freaks and Geeks” and directed the Rogen-starring “Knocked Up,” told the Chicago Tribune. “Tomorrow it could be ‘Don’t release Pepsi.’ It could happen to every business. It’s not even a show business question.”
“Wow. Everyone caved,” Rob Lowe tweeted. “The hackers won. An utter and complete victory for them. Wow.”
Watch “The Interview” trailer:
Now For Some Juicy Tidbits
For anybody who hasn’t been following the Sony hacking scandal, here are some of the juicier leaked e-mails:
Academy Award-winning producer Scott Rudin, known for producing “The Social Network,” “Moneyball” and “The Queen,” has been outed as a class-A jerk in a series of e-mails with Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chair Amy Pascal.
“There is no movie of Cleopatra to be made (and how that is a bad thing given the insanity and rampaging spoiled ego of [Angelina Jolie] and the cost of the movie is beyond me),” Rudin wrote. “I have zero appetite for the indulgence of spoiled brats and I will tell her this myself if you don’t.”
He said “Cleopatra” would be a “$180m ego bath and giant bomb” and “career-defining debacle for us both” and make us the “laughing stock of our industry.”
Rudin wrote that he was “not destroying my career over a minimally talented spoiled brat” and told Pascal: “You better shut Angie down before she makes it very hard for David [Fincher] to do [Steve] Jobs.”
Alrighty then. Angry much, Rudin?
Rudin also wrote about Megan Ellison, the film producer daughter of billionaire and Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, calling her a “bipolar 28-year-old lunatic.” After the e-mail leak, Ellison retorted with this amusing tweet: “Bipolar 28-year-old lunatic? I always thought of myself more as eccentric.”
Ha ha ha. You go, girl.
In other exposed e-mails Rudin wrote to Pascal, “Would [Obama] like to finance some movies?” Pascal dug her reputation grave deeper when she wrote back, “I doubt it. Should I ask him if he liked Django?”
Rudin wrote back, “12 Years.”
“Or The Butler. Or Think Like a Man?” Pascal responded.
Way to go, knuckleheads.
In addition to name-calling and racist cracks, we heard all about Hollywood sexism, too. Screenwriter/producer Aaron Sorkin (“The West Wing,” “The Social Network”) wrote that female leading roles are “nothing close to the degree of difficulty” as male leads. “Year in and year out, the guy who wins the Oscar for Best Actor has a much higher bar to clear than the woman who wins Best Actress,” said Sorkin. Surprisingly, that e-mail went to a woman — Maureen Dowd, a columnist at The New York Times.
I admit it made me happy when the hacked e-mails made public the pay disparity between genders at Sony; 17 Sony executives make $1 million per year, but only one is female, and she makes about half as much as a male executive with the same title. E-mails also revealed that lead actresses Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams made less than their male counterparts in “American Hustle” — although it’s not surprising, it is disgusting.
Think I should get cracking on writing a screenplay about the Sony tsunami? Once again, Hollywood truths are stranger than fiction. Stay tuned.
Dorri Olds is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.