Sony Pictures Entertainment is trying to get out in front of the devastating cyber-attack that has left the company reeling before the next batch of stolen documents leaks online.
Co-chair Amy Pascal has been reaching out to various executives and A-list stars across the industry to apologize preemptively for any disparaging comments she might have made in her correspondence. The Weinstein Co. chairman Harvey Weinstein was among the executives and actors who received an apologetic call from Pascal, insiders tell Variety.
The studio is also becoming more aggressive in mounting a defense after spending the initial days after the hacking essentially performing triage. It is working with the Motion Picture Association of America on a letter of support that would be signed by all of the other major studio heads. The language of the letter has been a sticking point, and some rival studio chiefs are reluctant to become embroiled in the issue. Others are concerned that a show of solidarity would expose their companies to attacks from the hackers, who call themselves Guardians of Peace.
It is suspected that the hacking was launched in conjunction with North Korea as punishment for the release of “The Interview,” a satire that depicts an assassination attempt on the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un.
Pascal has been at the center of the mushrooming public relations mess because some of the stolen messages include notes in which the studio chief makes a series of racially charged comments about President Barack Obama’s movie tastes. Some of the emails also included disparaging comments by Pascal and other top Sony executives about major stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Angelina Jolie and Kevin Hart. Pascal’s Obama jokes inspired criticism from the likes of “Scandal” creator Shonda Rhimes and “Selma” director Ava DuVernay. The actions and comments of Sony executives have been rebuked by Hart, Lisa Kudrow and Mark Ruffalo, among others.
Hollywood players were slow to offer statements of support for the embattled Pascal, but that has slowly begun to change. Howard Stern endorsed Pascal while talking with “The Interview” star Seth Rogen on his Monday broadcast, Judd Apatow tweeted kind words and Aaron Sorkin penned a New York Times opinion piece slamming the media for using the hacked documents. Pascal also received an encouraging phone call from Tyler Perry over the weekend. Despite the blowback Pascal received for her Obama remarks, the director was supportive of Pascal because of her history of backing African-American filmmakers and actors.
At the same time, Sony is putting reporters on the defensive. David Boies, an attorney for the studio, sent a letter to media outlets including Variety threatening legal action if they use stolen materials for articles.
Sony is hosting an all-staff meeting Monday on its Culver City, Calif., lot at 12:30 and 1 p.m. to discuss the fallout from the attack.