The entertainment industry is still reeling from an epic hacking last month of media giant Sony Pictures Entertainment, which has exposed private email exchanges, major contracts, unpublished screenplays and more to the public, giving them a glimpse of the highest echelons of Hollywood power.
The Internet is buzzing over several recent revelations from Sony’s unearthed content, some of which paint movie stars and influential producers in a patently unflattering light. The culprits behind the attack have not been determined, which has only led to more scrutiny and speculation, with some pointing the finger at a group calling themselves the GOP or the “Guardians of Peace.” Variety has reported that Sony employees received threatening emails from the shadowy organization claiming responsibility for the hack and warning of future reprisals. Despite the sharing a moniker with the Republican party, the group doesn’t appear to be politically motivated.
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Msnbc has reached out to Sony for comment but has not heard back at this time. However, a spokesman for the studio told CNBC’s Julia Boorstin, “We understand that some of our employees have received an email claiming to be from GOP. We are aware of the situation and are working with law enforcement.”
Meanwhile, the FBI told NBC News that they are ”aware of threatening emails that have been received by some employees at Sony Pictures Entertainment. We continue to investigate this matter in order to identify the person or group responsible for the recent attack on the Sony Pictures network. “
Here are five of the most intriguing and shocking tidbits that are making the rounds in the wake of the scandal:
Executives made racial remarks about President Obama
In an email back and forth in anticipation of their attendance at a fundraiser on President Obama’s behalf, Sony studio chief Amy Pascal, a major Democratic donor, and producer Scott Rudin cracked jokes about the president’s taste, implying that he would exclusively enjoy films with predominately black casts. “Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?,” wrote Pascal. To which Rudin responds: “12 YEARS.” Later Rudin says, “I bet he likes Kevin Hart.”
Since their emails went public both Rudin and Pascal have made apologies. Pascal told NBC in a statement: “The content of my emails to Scott were insensitive and inappropriate but are not an accurate reflection of who I am. Although this was a private communication that was stolen, I accept full responsibility for what I wrote and apologize to everyone who was offended.” Rudin told msnbc in a statement “Private emails between friends and colleagues written in haste and without much thought or sensitivity, even when the content of them is meant to be in jest, can result in offense where none was intended. I am deeply sorry and apologize for any injury they might have caused.”
A casual Google search reveals that the president’s film and culture tastes aren’t in fact based solely on the color of his skin, with favorites including “Homeland,” “Modern Family,” “Star Trek,” “Casablanca,” “Lawrence of Arabia,” and “The Godfather.”
A “Cleopatra” remake may have been shelved because Angelina Jolie is allegedly a “spoiled brat”
Although Angelina Jolie is an Oscar-winning humanitarian and one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood, she’s a “minimally talented spoiled brat,” according to Rudin, who suggested a planned “Cleopatra” film be shelved while discussing the actress’s alleged opposition to the studio’s directing choice for another project. That film, an upcoming biopic about Steve Jobs, is set to be directed by “Gone Girl” filmmaker David Fincher, and has since been taken over by another studio, Universal Pictures. Jolie wasn’t the only star slammed by Sony execs. Comic actor Adam Sandler, who has made multiple blockbusters for the studio, was also the subject of insults. “We continue to be saddled with the mundane, formulaic Adam Sandler films,” one Sony email purportedly says.
Movie stars have some pretty unusual aliases
It’s relatively common knowledge that A-list superstars use assumed names when booking travel or accommodations, but for every Ice Cube or Daniel Craig, who in the former case uses his real name or in the latter case the name of a relative, there are stars like actor Tobey Maguire, who allegedly uses the eyebrow-raising “Neil Deep” or actress Jessica Alba who reportedly uses the ‘name’ “Cash Money.” In addition to this very personal information, the Sony hack has also revealed the salaries and even the social security numbers of celebrities like Sylvester Stallone and producer Judd Apatow.
Women are still making less than men, even in Hollywood
Despite the movie industry’s progressive reputation, if the Sony hack is representative of the community’s pay scale, women, even at the highest echelons of power are still being shut out when it comes to the highest salaries. According to the leaked data, of the 17 executives at Sony who make more than $1 million a year, only one – Pascal – is a woman. In addition, all of the top Sony moneymakers are white.
George Clooney predicted the hack before it happened
Hollywood heartthrob and activist George Clooney is often praised as one of the smartest and shrewdest players in the movie business and the Sony hack may have only added to his mystique. According to a leaked internal email published by Gizmodo, Clooney, while discussing an upcoming directorial project “Hack Attack” – which explores the Rupert Murdoch-linked British phone hacking scandal – used the subject line “knowing this email has been hacked.” Clooney wrote Pascal, “I’m so excited to do this film, and for those of you listening in … I’m the son of a news man.”
Additional reporting by Jane C. Timm