Published On: Mon, Dec 22nd, 2014

Hacker Assault on Sony Strains Ties in Hollywood

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As Washington considers a response to an online attack on Sony Pictures, Hollywood is trying to mend relationships that were unraveled by the cyberattack, the New York Times said on December 21.

The studio’s ties with Adam Sandler, the star of Sony comedies like Grown Ups and its coming summer film Pixels, got singed when online news sites published unvarnished executive complaints about his “mundane, formulaic” films, the report said.

The disclosure of racially tinged emails from Amy Pascal, the co-chairwoman of the studio, led her to meet in person on Thursday with black leaders including Reverend Al Sharpton, who had condemned the exchange between her and the producer Scott Rudin as “offensive, insulting” when it first became public, according to the report.

Financiers are unsure about proceeding with planned deals to back Sony films, as some talent agents consider funneling scripts elsewhere.

Even Sony’s relations with news outlets have been dealt a lasting blow, with the studio upset about the willingness of some reporters to dig through stolen documents and media contacts given an unusually candid glimpse into how executives try to manipulate coverage, the Times said.

Over the last week, Sony’s attackers began threatening the company’s partners in the entertainment industry, beyond just theatres and theatre chains. Several Sony vendors mentioned in the stolen data trove have begun receiving threatening correspondence from the attackers.

Security experts said that “anxiety levels were high” and many vendors complained on Thursday that Sony’s decision to halt the release of the film might only embolden attackers, according to the Times.

In a more human calculus, a significant loser may be Seth Rogen, the writer-director-star who became the principal public face of the movie. There was a growing sentiment on the Sony lot that Rogen and his filmmaking colleagues had exposed employees and the audience to digital damage and physical threat by pushing his outrageous humor to the limit and backing the film to the last, the report said.

The impression that Rogen overreached was enforced by the publication of an email in which he reprimanded Pascal for pressing for minor changes in the assassination scene. “This is now a story of Americans changing their movie to make North Koreans happy, ” Rogen wrote. “It’s a very damning story, ” said the Times.

The strains between Rogen and Pascal unravelled only one thread in a Hollywood fabric that was thoroughly shredded by the hacking and ensuing threat. Much of the damage centered on the action, or lack thereof, among high industry executives who never stepped forward to assist Sony, the report said.

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