Is the Clock Ticking on Amy Pascal?

Amy Pascal Sony Job in Trouble
Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Amy Pascal has led Sony Pictures for more than a decade. She’s endured activist investor Daniel Loeb’s calls for her head and the twin disasters that were “After Earth” and “White House Down.” She’s experienced the highs of the first “Spider-Man” trilogy and the lows of a Senate investigation into the torture depictions in “Zero Dark Thirty.” She’s developed a reputation for her shrewd creative sensibility, and has surprised people by her willingness to dispatch key lieutenants when it was expedient. She’s a survivor.

The hourglass may be running out on her time at Sony, however. The devastating hack attack has exposed emails that could jeopardize Pascal’s relationships with key talent throughout the industry. Most damaging from a public relations perspective is a series of racially-charged jokes Pascal made with producer Scott Rudin, during which the two suggested that President Barack Obama must enjoy “Django Unchained,” “12 Years a Slave” and Kevin Hart films.

Both have since apologized and Pascal has made a point of reaching out to civil rights leaders such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. But her remarks have drawn stinging rebukes from the likes of Shonda Rhimes and Ava DuVernay, signs that her reputation is at a low ebb.

For now, Tokyo-based Sony Corp. CEO Kaz Hirai and the company’s board may hold off on any decision, so it does not appear as though they are yielding to pressure from the hacker group.

“She’s at the center of the storm,” said media analyst Hal Vogel. “It has nothing to do with her performance as an executive. People should be sympathetic to her, but the reality is that’s probably not the way that’s going to turn out.”

He points out that there are many projects in various stages of development and Sony has not had time to create a succession plan.

Not everyone appears convinced that Pascal’s future status at Sony is a guarantee.

“Even though she seems a victim, not a perpetrator of the hacking, those emails probably are too much for Sony’s Japanese sensibilities to withstand,” said Porter Bibb, managing partner of Mediatech Capital Partners.

Pascal, a liberal voice on issues such as same sex marriage and a vocal supporter of Obama, has insisted that the remarks about the President do not reflect her true beliefs or character. However, the race comments aren’t the only fire in this public relations inferno that Pascal must put out.

In correspondence with Rudin and other top executives, Pascal speaks bluntly about a number of industry figures such as Jeffrey Katzenberg and Leonardo DiCaprio. Rudin baldly dissed Angelina Jolie and financier-producer Megan Ellison. Likewise, Sony’s Screen Gems president Clint Culpepper insulted Kevin Hart by calling him a “whore” for wanting more money to promote “Think Like a Man Too,” while other executives poked fun at Adam Sandler’s creative output. Hart hit back on Twitter. Relations with all this high profile talent is surely strained.

Pascal has granted interviews to a few publications in which she said she was disappointed in herself and embarrassed. Her initial apology also described her comments as “insensitive and inappropriate,” while making a point that the communication was private and stolen. Some of the notes she hit were false, experts say.

“She needs to approach this as an executive in charge,” said Richard Laermer, a crisis management expert and CEO of RLM Public Relations.”Everything she’s said has been very namby-pamby and excusing herself left and right.”

There have been statements of support, from the likes of producer Doug Wick and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. One Sony insider said there was a lot of sympathy for Pascal given that the messages were intended to be kept private and had been subjected to unfair scrutiny.

“This is stolen material and Amy should be given the benefit of the doubt,” said Ross Johnson, an entertainment industry publicist. “She should be put in the penalty box, not subjected to the firing squad. Look at every single statement that this woman makes in these emails. Does it violate anything with her employment contract? Is there any misconduct? No.”

Pascal had already been concerned that the ax might fall on her head prior to the latest disclosures. Although Sony has fielded hits such as “22 Jump Street” and “Captain Phillips,” the studio is still reeling from the months of layoffs enacted as a response to Loeb’s criticism of its management. Likewise, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” did respectable business but was hardly the $1 billion blockbuster that Pascal had told people on the lot she needed it to be.

As the hacking attack worsened last week, speculation about Pascal’s departure grew louder. But she’s frustrated with the naysayers and her supporters maintain that rumors of her demise are premature at best.

 

 

 

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  1. John Q says:

    I’ve read through most of the emails available, she needs to be fired. Except the corporate lawyer Weil, the whole upper management of SPE , Lynton, Spodell, Moskos, O’Dell needs to go.

    These people/groups have justification to demand she be fired.

    Will Smith and family.
    Every black person
    Everyone at Paramount Studios
    Leonard DiCaprio

  2. Vito Pantangelli says:

    She should be fired at once. This is not the person Sony wants heading their company. This Pascal b—ch helped ruin Mel Gibson and now she is just as guilty. She’s an idiot for writing those emails, and someone in her position should have been a little smarter and show better judgement. When you send out an email, it is never 100% gone after its read. Most intelligent and careful people realize this.

    • Franco Bluto says:

      On that basis it would be fair . I think part of the problem with Sony and Pascal is Japan Sony management does not understand our culture well and the present Sony pictures (SPE) chairman is understandably reluctant to remove her because of her good track record financially and or without insistence from Sony inc. (SNE) management. Either way Sony is in a bad spot.
      ofc Amy Pascal inserting Al Sharpton into this is inexcusable.

      • John R says:

        Pascal and Lynton were critical of Sony Japan, Kaz, because Kaz didn’t know who Simon Cowell is. They claimed Kaz didn’t understand “our cultural”.

        I agree with Kaz who f#ck is Cowell to demand a meeting with the CEO of a major multinational corporation. Cowell is not Warren Buffet. Who the hell has an ego that big? It’s Cowell, oh, I stand corrected.

  3. preuser says:

    In all fairness she has had good financial results and Sony apologised to the white house and the white house said the apology was appropriate it should have ended there but her bringing Al Sharpton into this or allowing him to insert himself is inexcusable although other executives have paid his extortion fees .Sharpton is one of Obama’s favorites (hardly an endorsement but quite the opposite all things considered ) she should have kept quiet except for a basic apology stating the facts and left it at that now
    Now she is orchestrating a poorly conceived dog and pony show to keep her job thus has become an embarrassment to Sony and the business community in general and should leave .

  4. occultology says:

    Calm down on Amy Pascal and save your venom. Emotions cloud rational thinking. People say & type all manner of perverse observations to their friends and associates, and no one swears an Oath before sending off an Email.

  5. preuser says:

    Instead of paying off Al Sharpton Amy Pascal could always demonstrate her sincerity and new found sensitivity to diversity issues like a lot of white Hollywood A- listers such as Madonna , Angelina Jolie, Steven Spielberg and Hugh Jackman and adapt a black or African trophy baby !

  6. preuser says:

    Lets not mistake Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson for genuine civil rights leaders they are opportunistic
    racial grievance industry shake down artists only interested in how much money they can make from Sony through their front organizations !

    Maybe she should be fired for being stupid enough for her part in this and meeting with those two despite her otherwise good job performance ! There are lots of other genuine civil rights groups and leaders that would better serve the minority community.

    Pascals just doing another Hollywood show here if she really cared about civil rights issues she would have never made those comments to begin with but that doesn’t mean the racial grievance industry deserves to profit from this they don’t .

    Sony apologized to the white house and they said the apology was appropriate that should be the end of it !

  7. Gorn Stevens says:

    Off with her head!

  8. plastic tuna says:

    I think she’ll fit right in with stormfront.org with Dr. David Duke as her tutor, maybe she’ll give him a freebee, you just never know.

  9. Ashley says:

    Every day that she still occupies an office at Sony is a direct insult to those of us who aren’t stupid and see the true reflections of her actions. The mere fact that she hasn’t stepped down yet speaks volumes…seriously, who is going to want to work with this woman who has questionable integrity? Not saying any of these head honchos are beyond reproach. She was just stupid enough to type the words, and get caught, forgetting that big brother is always watching. She needs to get out now, because this is no doubt just the tip of the iceberg…

  10. curious1 says:

    Amy Pascal’s weak act of contrition is inappropriate and, ultimately meaningless. . If she really wants to do something significant she should actually hire qualified executives of color (they do exist) and break down the antiquated studio culture.

  11. Whether it was meant to be private or not those emails are very unprofessional and shouldn’t have been written!

  12. Pablo Cervantes says:

    Amy darlin’…I wouldn’t buy anything on credit just yet…

  13. John says:

    FIRE AMY PASCAL. she helped ruin Mel Gibson’s career and is now guilty of the same thing. If she survives this, it means anti semitism is a crime but racism is ok. That would be a huge double standard. Scott Rudin should be exiled. Pascal is an executive and this cannot be tolerated!

  14. Atomic Fury says:

    I’m against racism but not to the point of apologizing to a racist like Al Sharpton.

    • Jacques Strappe says:

      I’m no fan of outspoken black activists Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson even though I support many of their crusades against unfair and racist treatment of blacks in America. That being said, any black individual, activist or otherwise, who publicly decries what they perceive as unfair or racist treatment of men and women of color in this country by whites is NOT a racist. Sharpton and company is not mocking whites or claiming they are inferior to blacks or even implying he “hates” the white race which would be required to earn the racist label. Many or perhaps most blacks justifiably are suspicious of white people in positions of power, based on horrific and inhuman historical treatment. Just because you may not agree with Sharpton’s opinion or dislike him (as do I) for his showboating does not make him a racist.

    • curious1 says:

      and who is Al Sharpton anyway? She should apologize to the President of the United States and remember that her “private” correspondence belongs to a publicly traded company and act accordingly

  15. Jimmy Dee says:

    The racists wench needs to go! She makes racists comments but then tries to cover her ass by saying..:”but that’s not who I am?” That makes no sense! She said them!! Sure sounds like hypocrisy to me!!! Why is she even still working?????

    • preuser says:

      I agree she did apologize to the white house and they said the apology was appropriate

      The modern racial grievance industry AKA Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson has much less to do with civil rights than grabbing money and power they didn’t earn !
      Al sharpton has no business inserting himself here and Sony shouldn’t allow it

      Pascal should be fired for meeting with them and the case closed on Sony’s part!
      Sony doesn’t owe these crooks anything at… all nothing !
      Now that she has done this maybe sony could fire here and say ” see we have zero tolerance ”

      Sony apologized to the white house and the white house said the apology was appropriate end of story .

    • Atomic Fury says:

      I know. Such hypocritical hogwash. She’s only sorry that she got exposed.

  16. Build A Better says:

    How convenient the PC police side with the brain dead hackers who threaten terrorist attacks by attacking Ms. Pascal for being human.
    Who hasn’t said something offensive before. Heck I’m about to say something offensive right now. When Journalist get a whiff of dirty laundry they fight falling over each other to jump in the garbage shut, when all they need do is look in the mirror where the real source is. Sony is a good company getting screwed by weak kneed News outlets and hacker goons.
    As for the assault on Ms. Pascal, she is a women many should emulate not chastise as if they are perfectly PC.
    Happy Holidays

    • In a place of business if you have a problem with someone you should go to that person directly, also in her high position she should be more professional. Those emails are very unprofessional! Being human is not an excuse…

  17. Anonymous says:

    As Clint would say….

    I’m not saying she’s a racist. But she’s a racist.

  18. Inver says:

    She has a good commercial sensibility some of the time, and one certainly senses her passion, but her taste leaves something to be desired. She regards ‘Social Network’ as one of her proudest moments at Sony, while categorizing ‘Girl w the Dragon Tattoo’ a ‘disaster.’ That’s unfortunate, lol.

    Don’t trust me? She puts ‘Captain Philipps’ in the plus column when, with the slightest analysis, it easily becomes apparent to any normal-thinking person the film traffics in simple-minded first-world/third world stereotypes that subtly set cultural progress back, or push it down. But then a lot of studio execs would fail to see that…

    Ok. Okay, then who the fuck exactly was it made the brilliant fucking decision of _Webb_ for their precious Spiderman franchise? AND (now I realize there’s probably not a lot to be done about this, from her standpoint, but still) 300 mil for the next Bond?

    Hmm.

    Confusing. I do take pause to wonder why it is the media is fixating mostly on her, though, when most of the insults were said _to_ her about others _by_ others. Yes, there was one upsetting exception, and she was right to apologize publicly. Though I do think, in thinking about all of this, a comment below hit the nail squarely on its head, and put this ‘scandal’ in perspective: this kind of talk — it’s the (studio) culture.

    And let’s not fucking kid ourselves that the sense of humor in Hollywood is not ‘kind of’ fucked up.

    Not for prying eyes, at any rate.

    As much as some of her decisions haven’t made good sense in my opinion (I’m no studio exec), she does have a proven track record. But what’s more, and much more to the point here, fire her and the idiot hackers win it all.

  19. jj says:

    She was warned about the possible repercussions of releasing this movie and ignored it and her employees private information was leaked as a result. Bye, Felicia.

  20. Me used to be SPE says:

    As a former SONY employee… Now I really know…… Since I suffered many medical problems (cancer) and the great medical insurance I had working at Sony… My Mom always said that that is the reason they laid me off. I did not know that these companies have access to our medical records. I didn’t know that when I went to the doctor Sony also had the records… I know for a fact that it cost nearly a million dollars to put me back together again and not just from having cancer but from other medical issues. I thank God that I had the insurance in-which I paid nothing for and only had to pay a little bit for my medication. I feel sad for the people that work there. It must be a sad time for everyone. Not surprised at what Amy said. The culture is such.

  21. Granger Man says:

    Totally agree with everyone that no one wants to work with Amy or Sony. You can’t email them anyway for fear of being ridiculed. As for Scott Rudin, his time is long over. I don’t know a single person in our industry who wants to work with him.

  22. chancer says:

    I wonder how many of Pascal’s supporters are from the 47000 people who got royally screwed by having their SSNs splashed across the internet. Someone at SPE needs to take responsibility for their laughable network security, and that should be the person at the top.

  23. CMarks says:

    They’ll just delay her exit now to make it appear as though it’s not a result of everything brought out by th hacking fiasco. Of course it is but expect that reason to be denied.

  24. Mimi says:

    No sympathy at all!!! I think she needs to go. I’m sure she’s well off. She is an exec. Hopefully she’ll land on her feet. If not, oh well. That is exactly what she gets.

  25. Keith says:

    I teach cultural diversity courses at a university. Black students tell me Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are not people they look up to.

  26. LOL says:

    Nah. Americans are too thick to sack her. They love a comeback kid full of sobs stories and apologies. Pascal will weather the storm and continue greenlighting crap films that U.S. audience dumbly flock to. Win-win.

  27. Andy says:

    There is no reason she should be fired except one: reaching out to Al Sharpton. Let’s remember some of Sharpton’s career highlights: Tawana Brawley, tax evasion, Crown Heights.

  28. Harley Leiber says:

    The Amy Pascals are a dime a dozen and studio execs have a short shelf life as it is.So, what is the big deal? This is no tragedy and nothing Sony brass can’t recover from. I am more concerned about innocent employees having the personal info released. Pay her off…and get rid of her. Not worth the hassle. Rudin on the other hand is a rain maker in his own right. He is a shot caller and will recover from this and continue making dough for everyone left and right. Amy’s days were numbered as it is…and she needs to see this as a “learning experience”. Anyway….ther are lot’s of reality tv shows she can get a spot on…Survivor Hollywood Hasbeen comes to mind. 10 People are dropped off by limo at a posh downtown hotel …contestants include Amy, Hasslehoff, Hulk Hogan, Janice Dickinson if she’s not comatose, Flav o’ Flav….Tommy Kirk and Bill Cosby etc.,

  29. Michael Van Steenburg says:

    Private discussions between two people have been made public before, yet the end result was to force the person who made the offending private comments out of their business. Clippers Owner Donald Sterling??? When will this Privacy Red Scare end? People say and do things in private that they would never want shared with the public all the time. That is why Privacy is so important as a Human Right, yet it is assaulted everywhere today in our daily lives. Right or Wrong, actions are more important indicators of a person’s character than words, and private thoughts and discussions should be treated as private and non-representative of a person’s character.

  30. Tom says:

    Her second mistake was going to Al Sharpton for support because what that was telling her Bosses at Sony was that Al Sharpton would if effect be running their company.

  31. Justin Time says:

    And I disagree with the move Kaz Hirai hold off so it does not appear as though they are yielding to pressure. Everyone knows its coming. You have to. She’s cancer now. A year from now whenever anyone deals with her all that is on their minds is this.

  32. equipmentguy says:

    She’s dead man walking. Sony/Japan is just waiting for correct timing to drop guillotine.

    • preuser says:

      Maybe they should offer her the use of the corporate executive hari kari sword or just buy her one !
      If she appreciated Japan culture she should publicly offer her resignation !

  33. Justin Time says:

    She has this attractive meth smile. You know how meth users never smile showing their teeth because of the heavy meth use.

  34. Irish Joey Dee says:

    Maybe they should just move her office to the ‘hypocrite’ tent they put on the back lot?

    • cindy says:

      Amy Pasqual needs to be fired! a 3 million dollar a year bigot and simple minded under qualified waste of space at Sony or even a minimum wage office clerk, who has time on the clock to talk trash with co-workers, and to state this is not a depiction of who she is? really, who is it then Amy? No common sense period, Al Sharpton? really, is that your best idea? he does not speak for All African americans…you trashed talked our President….no respect, you are living in an altered reality, if you can not come up with dialogue on your own, you are obviously in over your head….

  35. CMarks says:

    Think most of us here know the scam this is. Worthless waste of time.

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