‘Selma’ Director Calls Sony Emails ‘Sickening and Sad’

'Selma' Director Ava DuVernay Describes Sony

Ava DuVernay and producer Dede Gardner speak out at screening in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On the same day that she became the first black woman to receive a Golden Globe nomination for best director, “Selma” filmmaker Ava DuVernay took a moment to remark on the controversial email exchange that, for some, has highlighted a dispiriting lack of progress in some of the higher echelons of Hollywood.

“I have two words: sickening and sad,” DuVernay told Variety at Thursday night’s Washington, D.C., premiere of “Selma.” “That’s really all I have to say.”

The director was referring to one of many conversations between producer Scott Rudin and Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chair Amy Pascal that were made public as a result of the massive Sony hack attack by Guardians of Peace, a group protesting the upcoming release of the studio’s North Korea-skewering satire “The Interview.” In the exchange in question, Pascal and Rudin traded quips about President Obama’s movie tastes — which, the two speculated, might run toward the likes of “Django Unchained,” “12 Years a Slave,” “The Butler” and the comedies of Kevin Hart.

A later version of that conversation might well have included mention of “Selma,” which re-creates the 1965 voting-rights marches led by Martin Luther King Jr. in heavily segregated Alabama. On Thursday morning, the much-lauded Paramount release picked up Golden Globe nominations not only for DuVernay’s direction but also for picture and best actor for David Oyelowo for his portrayal of King.

During the post-screening Q&A held at the Newseum in D.C., the first question taken from the audience concerned the Sony hacking scandal. While DuVernay was circumspect about the matter onstage, “Selma” producer Dede Gardner spoke at greater length, acknowledging that Pascal and Rudin were being judged on the basis of a private communication.

“It’s confusing because it’s obviously a private conversation that was exposed and made public to the world, and it’s hard, I think, for people who know those people,” Gardner said. “You get let into spaces that you’re not meant to be in.”

“I’d like to think that it can be a very valuable lesson in how powerful the slightest words can be, and how lasting and impactful they are,” she added. “It is no joke. There are not grades of racism. There’s racism.”

Pascal and Rudin both issued apologies for their remarks on Thursday, with Pascal personally reaching out to Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who had criticized the emails in question. He wasn’t alone. Earlier that day, Shonda Rhimes wrote on Twitter: “Calling Sony comments ‘racially insensitive remarks’ instead of ‘racist’? U can put a cherry on a pile of sh*t but it don’t make it a sundae.”

The “Selma” Q&A, which was well attended by local elected officials and moderated by “NewsHour” co-anchor Gwen Ifill, also included actors Oyelowo and Lorraine Toussaint, producers Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner (who are both among the producers of “12 Years a Slave”) and cinematographer Bradford Young. But the undisputed star of the panel was congressman and civil rights activist John Lewis, a 25-year-old version of whom is portrayed in the film by Stephan James.

“I was deeply moved and touched to see myself played by a young guy, with all of his hair,” Lewis said to much laughter, before turning sober and reflective. “You know, when I was growing up in rural Alabama, a few miles from Selma … when we went to the theater as young black children, we had to go upstairs to the balcony. And all of the white children headed downstairs to the first floor.”

“You didn’t see anybody who looked like you on that screen,” Ifill said.

Lewis replied, “Seeing myself being played is almost too much.”

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 460

Leave a Reply

460 Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Great post. I am going through some of these issues
    as well..

  2. Shy says:

    I find two things interesting about these comments. 1 – The number of comments referring to the director as a male, and 2 – the lack of comments about the significance of her nomination. Both of these items are clearly stated in the opening sentence, “On the same day that she became the first black woman to receive a Golden Globe nomination for best director…”

  3. Carlo says:

    Im astounded at the ignorance displayed in these comments. The age of information is a farce ,and you, commenting multitudes, are the proof. I will pray for you. You’re hearts are rotten.

  4. Lauren says:

    Wow. If I was wondering how sick humanity is and how ignorant some people are to the suffering of others are, I’m not anymore after reading the replies to this post.

  5. Alex says:

    Nothing illegal has been done here, so far all that has happened is a bunch of Hollywood big shots have gotten caught bad mouthing other Hollywood big shots behind their backs. The race angle is just a side show. It looks likely that a few studio big shots may be brought down NOT for wrong doing, but by someone on the inside OR use to be on the inside who wanted revenge.

  6. Keith says:

    Who really cares what she thinks? I’m so sick of the hypocrisy. The biggest racists by far in this country are black. The biggest sexists in this country are women. And the boy-king and the black community have destroyed any hope of ever living at any level of harmony. That’s truly what is sickening and sad.

    As an opinion, she’s entitled to this. To weigh in like some kind of expert????? Can we, or even she, even understand if she deserves anything she has achieved with all of the handouts she’s received along the way? Her life in a vacuum while the rest of us live in the crap world the marxists/humanists have created for us.

  7. kim says:

    I’m SHOCKED to learn Hollywood producers aren’t Saints!!! (do I really need to place a /sarc/ note on this one??)

  8. Elkabong says:

    Well, Pascal has reached out to the Emperor of black people and all she needs is his blessing and it will be okay.

  9. This makes me think that some blacks and 3/4 of hollywood are ten times more disconnected with the sane world than I did before. But then it occurs to me that this is probably just the usual fake leftist outrage.

  10. J.D. says:

    Blacks have been conditioned for generations to “Hold tight to Slavery” by their liberal trainers. Never wander far from the motivational prop enlisted by white liberals, to guarantee the subservience of blacks, and more importantly…their votes. Never has the White Liberal Establishment dared to attempt changing that legacy of the lowest rung of humanity, in favor of a positive legacy for blacks as successful people. For despicable Liberals, blacks MUST REMAIN exactly where they have always been…at their beck and call.

  11. Kala says:

    Hilarious, Hollywood is always presenting itself as so cool, ahead of the times, so tolerant but it is what it has always been. A Business out for big bucks. They are hypocrites.

  12. Ryan Blades says:

    Gee, ya’ll thought Hollywood was embracing you? Just like Uncle Al, Jesse and Democrats, they are all using you to get rich. Gruber was talking about you.

  13. Nanny Mo says:

    This is why he don’t want anyone, even the NSA, reading all our emails and listening to all our calls. Americans have a Constitutional right to privacy and we are all ruder at times in private than in public. I’d love to read Obama’s private thoughts, wouldn’t you?

  14. Scott says:

    “It’s confusing because it’s obviously a private conversation that was exposed and made public to the world,”…
    Private? Like Donald Sterling’s conversation with his girlfriend?
    The hypocrissy is staggering.

  15. Robert says:

    Guess she never noted what Malcom X said about white liberals.

  16. Bill Magee says:

    Why are we concerned with Selma’s director’s opinion? Does anyone know or care who he is? I am tired of these annual black victim films that are automatically lauded by the left, too afraid to show anything but unfathomable respect for the same black people who cherry pick the 0.0001% of black deaths attributable to non-blacks, especially if the dead black person is a thug, and make them a martyr. There is a sickness in the black community. Not all of them, but more than half.

  17. Robin Graves says:

    Just because a few people mention that they dont like a movie or a performance does not mean they are racist. There are a lot of movies Blacks dont like that feature Whites and White interest,but no one says how they are racist because of thier tastes. Face it people,if someone doesnt like a movie they have several reasons that ARENT RACIST. Im sick fo the whole “If you dont like Black movies or Black music you are a racist”. That door then swings both ways. If a rapper doesnt like Heavy Metal, then he too,due to his own convictions,is a racist also. Get over yourselves. Liberals arent the end all of the world. .

  18. Mr Snafu says:

    People of color follow blindly the liberals that use and abuse them but sadly many are so ill informed they will never wake up

  19. Firefly says:

    I apologize to the world for not exposing often enough, today’s black people, as a new form of muslim, with themselves the bacon they despise and protest. They leave a pretty bad taste in my mouth, too.

  20. Firefly says:

    I like the Temptations. Oh, and I like a lot of white actors, while being white.

  21. Firefly says:

    Am I missing something; a black person described liking films with the history and the content of his people is despicable? Did the author relate the story in question?

  22. Kun Tewk says:

    Black women have made acting indignant an art form.

  23. EWA says:

    Just imagine if you will……If Dr. King had lived HE, a man of selfless courage and conviction, would have been our first black president. Instead we have the joke we live with now.

    Just imagine if you will……………….How much better this world would have been.

  24. EndAllRacism says:

    The best response I’ve found to the double standard that allows–and at times seems to encourage–black racism is to never go to the movies they make and to never support the sports they play. They are free to speak their minds. I’m free to spend my money where I will. I will not enrich black racists.

  25. Trey VonDinkis says:

    Why would Pascal ‘reach out’ to Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Both are racists of the highest order. He ‘apologizes,’ and then reaches out to two known racists ??! Where’s Obama speaking on this ? Where are the other Black racists up in arms over this ??! Oh – my bad. This is liberal Hollywood, so they get a pass. The clown show continues.

  26. Let’s see a few emails between black artists that say horrible racist things about white people. I guarantee Spike Lee, Chris Rock, John Singleton, Oprah, Denzel, and every professional sports player in America has loads of them.

  27. Ummmmmmmm, how is it sickening or sad to assume Obama likes movies with black leading characters? Has the whole world gone nuts?

  28. RC Christian says:

    Not bad, actually surprised they had a sense of humor. I would of added “The Crying Game” though. If it were Bill Clinton or G.W. Bush, no one would care. These guys are just trying to guilt an award or publicity for the movie. No one cares about their feelings. Bill Clinton – Hangover 2, Deliverance, Smokey and the Bandit. Any ideas for G.W. Bush ?? Please limit to 3 movies

  29. Funny how all these anti-Hollywood conservatives manage to find their way to a showbiz blog to post their bullshit. Get off Variety and go back to Breitbart.

  30. Jay says:

    First we subjected African-americans to 400 years of slavery. Then we forced African-americans to drink from separate fountains. Late, more than 10 million African-americans were lynched in the 1950’s alone. Now we are sending ugly emails about them. Will this nightmare ever end? Join me in boycotting all products out of Hollywood. It’s the right thing to do. No justice, no peace.

    • b. soetoro says:

      Lol… another historically ignorant lib with verbal diarrhea!

    • Karen K. says:

      “Late, more than 10 million African-Americans were lynched in the 1950’s alone.” Ten million? Where’s your documentation for that? Your figure is more than the Holocaust, which is documented. You’ve written a fantasy. As for the emails, Hollywood makes movies to appeal to certain groups of people so those people will go to see them. Hollywood makes chick flicks for women, action movies for men, cartoons for children, Christian themed movies to get Christians to buy tickets, and movies about Black people to stimulate that audience to buy tickets. Not every movie is aimed at all people. In this article “You didn’t see anybody who looked like you on that screen,” (Gwen) Ifill said, complaining that years ago there were few movies featuring Blacks. Now there are lots of movies and TV shows featuring Blacks (13% of American’s population) and they moan because Hollywood thinks movies about Blacks might appeal to Blacks? Makes no sense!

    • Trey VonDinkis says:

      Nothing like just randomly making up a bunch of garbage ‘facts and figures’ to suit your clown agenda. Try being somewhat on spot. Try doing some research, or perhaps take a history class. You may find the FACT that Blacks enslaved and sold their own of interest. This was long, long, long before big, bad ‘Whitey’ came along.

      • Bahits Dawg says:

        The bottom line, more blacks are killed by abortions in a day, than in all the lynchings between 1882 and 1968. More are murdered on the streets in a month, than all those lychings. The lynching were horrible, but we are out of balance.

      • EWA says:

        When BOTH of a librubes brain cells fire simultaneously we get gibberish, but when only one fires we get this nonsense………….

        400 Years? If your post wasn’t so stupid it might be funny! refresh your pitiful education and then try again, you are embarrassing yourself

    • Please boycott. Hollywood doesn’t need your money.

    • jack says:

      10 million African-americans were lynched in the 1950’s

      that is objectively false

  31. no1special says:

    Give me a break. This pc nonsense has to stop. I don’t agree with these two’s political slant. But this is just two people having a little harmless fun. The Selma director need to put a sock in it.

  32. FoundingFathersGhost says:

    When the fourth estate of a nation focuses on the content of private emails and harps on/twists every word and comment to create a feeding frenzy of public opinion and the public piles on that nation is probably not one that is going to be a world power or a world leader for long. Worse yet, government leaders support this nonsense for short term political gain at the expense of our national character. America is consuming its own national spirit on a pyre of national values and the Chinese, Russians, Iranians and others are laughing their way to world domination and America is left with the ashes of hate, regret and finger pointing. Shame on us all.

    • J says:

      I bet 90.% of the American public agrees with you (because they understand kidding around vs real racism), and it’s why a story like this will die in a few days. Considering the worlds “real problems” — this is a big yawner.

      • Trey VonDinkis says:

        You mean ‘kidding around’ (since they’re Liberals), versus ‘racism’ (if they were conservatives). You’re a racist hypocrite of the highest order. Sorry – this is racism pure and simple – and their words were NOT harped on or twisted, as your brainless friend claims.

  33. Mike says:

    Donald Sterling was forced to sell the Clippers for a leaked private conversation. Where are the protests here. Why are these 2 people not being forced to resign ?

  34. Paul says:

    It doesn’t shock me that a big liberal donor to Obama and the DNC will not be fired for her ‘racist’ comments—not racially insensitive but racist comments.

    Jessie and Rev Al let her off the hook for a small donation to NAN? I’ll bet Sony is writing the check. Well I intend to return my Sony TV I got a month ago.

  35. George says:

    LOL..All this time them nasty, racist, crackers have been runnin’ Hollywood. Who knew…?

  36. Sundude says:

    Racism unfortunately only exists unilaterally. Blacks can accuse others of it, but once ANY other race pushes back or calls out a black for hypocrisy, they are instantly deemed racist.I’m disgusted by the hypocrisy I am witnessing it now almost daily in the press with Ferguson, etc.. And I’m tired of seeing people’s lives ruined over petty mistakes or humor at the hands of an exacerbating liberal media frenzy . Here’s truth…The overwhelming racism I personally witness is by blacks against white Americans. Why is it that American blacks and whites can laugh at Chris Rock blast whites in stereotypes, tolerate racial slurs in rap music, justify Black Entertainment TV, JET magazine, Black entertainment awards, Black actors guild, NAACP, and on and on, yet an utterance of humor comes out of a white guy and the entire overcompensating left wing piles on to attempt to flog the culprit??? Sickening…and tired of it. Oh, and for the record, I am for promoting, employing, advancing, protecting and supporting people of ALL colors based on meritocracy…NOT skin color.

  37. james gore says:

    The emails which she is referring to were from a white Liberal who supported Obama!! Hilarious!!

  38. Polly says:

    there are no grades of racism…really?

  39. Jimbo says:

    So, do Black people think that Black people are all Angels and Saints now? They are above being human? LMAO! Good lord. If we are all ‘equal’ then ‘racist’ doesn’t matter now, does it?

  40. John M. says:

    I’ll assume North Korea did this, and while I certainly can’t condone what they’ve done, you can be damn sure, I’m going to enjoy watching the hypocrisy fly.

  41. Comments directed at white folks are at least as derogatory as those directed at black folks – wake up, not everyone is going to agree with you or like you – get on with your life…..

  42. Carl Fales says:

    As a conservative I am torn – obviously N Korea committed a serious crime with this hack. But on the other hand, since Hollywood is about 99.9% liberals – this is simply delicious. To see the hypocrisy, racism, sexism, and general pettiness of some of the biggest liberals in La La Land exposed for all the world to see “makes my day” – as one of the few conservatives, Clint Eastwood, would say.

    I rarely pay to see a movie in the theater any more but I am making an exception for “The Interview” out of gratitude for making this happen.

  43. Arnold Ziffle says:

    First, these emails are supposed to be private. Second, I ABSOLUTELY GUARANTEE that if we obtained the emails of those complaining & expressing outrage, they would quickly shut up, and find a place to hide.
    Seriously, until the politicians quit using racism as a weapon, and continue to empower minorities using this as a political crutch, it will never go away.

  44. Gary Johns says:

    They’re ALL overpaid, pampered prima donnas….who cares? Everyone talks sh*t about everyone…if this comes as a surprise to any of you, you’re an idiot. Release the movies….

  45. J.K. says:

    You know what’s really “sickening and sad?” The fact that the whole concept and meaning of “PRIVACY” is extinct. From the outrages in the media, from individuals, from groups, from your ‘whoever’, I can only surmise that not one person who so self-righteously is pointing a finger, throwing stones, or articulating some form of verbal character assassination has ever made an unattractive comment or joked about someone that they know, or ragged on someone in the most politically incorrect terms – IN PRIVATE — EVER! Wow, lotsa perfection out there and I’d love to meet just one.

    The most “sickening and sad” in all this is what is being lost in the ‘omgthatawfulamyandscott’ fiasco is the real crime that was committed, that by the hackers.

  46. Lisa says:

    The fact is most of Hollywood lives in such a myopic reality of self delusion that they think they can do racist things and believe in racist ideologies (“jokes”) and somehow not be a racist. Mainly because they haven’t been called out on it. I’m sure if it was one of the bigs at Universal who’s email was hacked, Amy would be one of those here on this board talking about how she doesn’t see racism and here’s by Obama and black people should be ok with it. Makes you wish everyone’s private emails could be brought to the light. Make everyone stand up and admit who they really are.

    • Joe Fabittes says:

      Racism is sick, I think nearly all will agree with that statement.

      Lisa, you appear to be intelligent, I don’t understand how you could “wish” that everyone’s private emails could be made public. What about people’s private conversations or even people’s private thoughts?

  47. John Brown says:

    OK… I’m trying to figure out what is “sickening?” Does anyone think Obama’s watching old Shirley Temple movies or Monty Python? Or is the “sickening” part that it’s not just the right that thinks Obama and his staff are blatant racists?

    • Lisa says:

      So….Obama couldn’t be watching old Shirley Temple or old black and whites? You know his taste for movies? He couldn’t be a sci-fi head like Octavia Butler or a fan of old black white movies? He couldn’t love docs like Marta Cunningham?

  48. Joe Fabittes says:

    This is not racism. It might be a little bit patronizing but not even close. If this is racism, we, as a culture, are doomed.

    • Lisa says:

      What are their jokes based on if not race? I’m really interested to know.

      • Tell D Truth says:

        Lisa, I see no racism. If they were being visited by the Japanese Prime Minister, they probably would not screen TORA TORA TORA, lol.

        Obama has set race relations back nearly a century. He and his unbelievably racist Atty General Eric Holder have sewn nothing but suspicion, blame, and hatred between blacks and whites. I think the Sony executives were quite prescient in assuming the President might like race-baiting films…

      • Joe Fabittes says:

        I’m sorry Lisa, but I don’t see jokes here. I see people who were stupid enough to believe their private conversations would actually be private.

  49. haywood jablome says:

    WTF are these PC people thinking? I see nothing racist about these emails. Au contraire, their comments are sickening.

  50. Big Bear says:

    I’m tired of them, too. Groveling on our knees an licking their boots won’t please them. They’ll complain we didn’t lick enthusiastically enough.

    Fortunately, I live amongst my own in an isolated area. The national news might as well be talking about Syria for how disconnected I feel from the American Empire. I’ll view the collapse of America as a great event, for I will no longer have to hear enemy propaganda on a daily basis.

More Film News from Variety

Loading