With Sony Pictures under a cyber attack that escalated to physical threats, the studio quietly has cancelled the guided tours of its backlot in Culver City. “We’re not doing the tours right now,” an official in the tours office said today. “We’re dealing with a major software issue.” The tours are slated to resume on January 5, a rep for the studio said. The two-hour walking tour gives visitors a behind-the-scenes look at a working studio, including visits to stages where The Wizard Of Oz and Spider-Man were filmed and where Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune are taped.
Despite Sony’s unprecedented move to cancel the release of The Interview because of terrorist threats to blow up theaters, security is still surprisingly lax at Sony Pictures Plaza, the beautiful glass pyramid building that had been the starting point for the tours, a visit to the building showed. The tour’s website tells visitors they can park for free in the Plaza’s underground parking lot, so this morning I decided to check it out. I drove into the visitor’s entrance; the gate was up and the guard waved me through without even asking my name. I parked and took the elevator up to the ground floor. A sign said that all visitors must check in at the security desk, but I just walked into the lobby without anyone asking me what I was doing there.
Sony Pictures Entertainment, the target of the cyber attack, still has offices in the Plaza, though many have moved onto the much more secure Sony lot, which is surrounded by high walls and is protected around the clock by security guards. The offices of Sony Pictures’ top brass are securely located on the lot in the Thalberg Building.
But there certainly was no sign of extra security inside the Plaza this afternoon. I wondered around the lobby for a while, looking at the glass cases full of movie memorabilia, and then got into a South Tower elevator. I stopped on each of the seven floors. No one stopped me or asked me what I was doing there.
I came back down to the lobby and walked over to a small table, on top of which sat two stacks of papers. One contained resources and contact information relating to the cyber break-in, including phone numbers for “global security” and “IT questions.” The other contained a long list of “Basic Cyber Security Tips” and a “Hotline” phone number for employees to report “threatening emails or spear-phishing emails related to the breach.”
At other studios including Paramount, Fox and Warner Bros, you have to have a pass or have your name at the gate to get inside. No walk-ons are allowed. But not at Sony Pictures Plaza — anyone can still just walk in off the street, go up and down the elevators, and pick up security-related documents that are sitting on a table.