The emerging narrative over Tom Rothman’s ascension at Sony Pictures Entertainment focuses on his many blockbuster successes, with a subtext about bad-Tom, the boss who alienates producers and talent. Didn’t an email divulged in last November’s Sony computer hack confirm it? There was Rothman, strafing the children of a top star, Will Smith, after the kids went all space-cadet in an interview with the New York Times.
But wait a minute.
It turns out Rothman’s dig at the Smith kids — Jaden and Willow — which would have hardly rated a mention in the snark frenzy that enveloped the kids — also didn’t faze Papa Smith.
“Everybody disses my kids,” Smith said Tuesday with an outsized chuckle. “To me, that’s just part of the business. And somebody’s email is private, you know? So I would never hold anybody responsible for something they said in a private email. I shouldn’t even know about it.”
Smith made the remarks outside the Tuesday night premiere of “Focus,” the conman thriller in which he stars with Margot Robbie.
The kerfuffle over Rothman and the Smith kids, Jaden and Willow, stemmed from a November interview in which the the teenage entertainers shared their ethereal worldview with the New York Times style magazine. (Willow Smith on themes in her music: “This is a fragment of a holographic reality that a higher consciousness made.” Jaden: “Your mind has a duality to it. . . . When you think about an apple, you also think about the opposite of an apple.”)
Rothman forwarded a link to the Jaden-Willow chatter to other Sony executives, including Doug Belgrad, the president of the studio’s Motion Picture Group. Rothman told the other execs to read the piece, adding: “they r home schooled: don’t let this family date your movies!!!”
Given that assessments of the interview on social media ranged from “nuts,” to “bizarre,” to “Zen jibberish,” Rothman’s assessment now sounds relatively mild.
Will Smith suggested this week that one email won’t change his relationship with Rothman or Sony, which is home to the actor’s production company, Overbrook Entertainment.
“I worked with Tom [when he was head of Fox Filmed Entertainment.] ,” the star said outside Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre. “We did ‘Independence Day’ together. We did ‘I, Robot.’ I’ve worked with Tom a lot.”
He gave no indication that would change any time soon.