3RD UPDATE: Is Hollywood trying to circle the wagons over the baring of stolen e-mails? Here are three tweets from prominent directors Phil Lord, who with partner Chris Miller directed the 2014 hits 22 Jump Street and The LEGO Movie; Looper director Rian Johnson, who’ll helm the next two Star Wars films; and the prolific producer-director Judd Apatow. All of them have made movies at Sony and probably know they might surface in e-mails if this sordid business continues. Apatow was among the many victims whose personal information was hacked from Sony’s computers.
Judd Apatow, in response to a piece by Hitfix’s Drew McWeeny:
2ND UPDATE, WEDNESDAY AM: So much for restraint. The Wall Street Journal and Gawker dished out the hacked e-mails from Sony film chief Amy Pascal. Gawker’s dialogue consisted of exchanges over the Steve Jobs movie, which Sony let go and which Universal picked up. The emails between studio chief Pascal and producer Scott Rudin consisted of harsh words over elements from casting to directing to script and featured unflattering mention of everyone from Angelina Jolie to David Fincher, Tom Cruise, Aaron Sorkin and Megan Ellison.
WSJ‘s stolen document contribution involved a comparatively harmless discussion about a possible animated Spider-Man and the prospect of the webslinger showing up in Captain America 3 for Disney-owned Marvel. The e-mails are certainly dishy, but it’s certainly not news that Sony lost the Jobs film and that vigorous finger-pointing followed.
But guess what? Is there anyone in the movie business who hasn’t been on the blistering end of an email rant one day and a wet kiss the next? Where’s the news? My colleague Jeremy Gerard and I have had occasion to hear from Rudin in the heat of battle and feel both his sting and his praise; this is news? (“He called me a dick and an asshole in one memorable line, Gerard recalls, and brilliant the next day…”) So it still feels to me that it’s like seeing someone undressing through a window. Do you watch or turn away and does either action reveal something about you?
An email was sent to me about a piece written on this subject by Eliyahu Fink, the Rabbi at the Pacific Jewish Center. It seems like a worthy addition to all the discussion going on in this unprecedented privacy invasion that Sony is experiencing. The Rabbi focuses not so much on the hackers as those who engage with the bared secrets:
“Sony Pictures was attacked by hackers. Attacked is the proper word to describe hacking in this context. The hackers intended to harm Sony financially and instill fear into the hearts of the studio’s executives and employees…It is destructive and a form of terrorism…When hackers leak stolen information, the leak is not the thing that hurts. The thing that hurts is the public imbibing in the leak…The leak hurts so much because far too many voyeurs gleefully devour the forbidden fruit. That’s on the voyeurs, not the hackers…The rest of us are “in possession of stolen property.” That’s also evil…Hacking would be practically useless if we all agreed to embargo anything that is leaked by the hackers. But we don’t do that. Sadly, there is demand for hacked data…There is only one moral choice: Gawking is a curse. Look away…When hackers release pirated movies, it’s on us to go to the theater and pay to see the film. When hackers want to tell us secrets, it’s on us to ignore them. When hackers leak intimate photos of celebrities, it’s on society to look the other way…When we gawk, we … step across the moral line and we become the hackers. Let’s care more about the victims of hacking than our prurient curiosity.”
There is every possibility more documents will surface and that this will get uglier before it’s over. At least one person mentioned in those e-mails tried to find the humor, after she was characterized harshly in emails never meant for public consumption. Annapurna’s Megan Ellison tweeted: “Bipolar 28 year old lunatic..? I always thought of myself more as eccentric.”
The rabbi’s words are likely small consolation to Pascal, Michael Lynton, and creatives like Rudin, whose unvarnished private opinions were bared as if they were the Pentagon Papers or Edward Snowden’s damning revelations. These people are probably going to have to make uncomfortable phone calls, even though it’s hard to imagine anyone on the receiving end of an apology hasn’t likely written many private e-mails that would cause pain and regret if made public.