Al Sharpton used his MSNBC show today to continue blasting Sony Pictures Co-Chairman Amy Pascal and producer Scott Rudin for racist gags they exchanged in an email chain that came to light during one of the most recent information dumps by a group that has hacked Sony.
Sharpton noted the emails disparaging President Obama were written when he made a trip to Los Angeles last year and praised Hollywood for promoting American values:
“Hundreds of millions of people may never set foot in the United States, but thanks to you they have experienced a small part of what makes our country special,” Obama said around the same time Pascal was emailing Rudin “What should I ask the president at this stupid Jeffrey [Katzenberg] breakfast.”
“Would he like to finance some movies,” Rudin offered.
“I doubt it. Should I ask him if he liked Django,” Pascal responded. Rudin suggested “12 Years” — presumably a reference to 12 Years A Slave. Pascal thought he’d like The Butler or Think Like A Man. Rudin tossed in Ride Along for good measure, adding, “I bet he likes Kevin Hart.”
Of this Sharpton scoffed: “Oh, I get it. The president is black, so he only likes black movies or black comedians. Is that really the logic of some of the most powerful people in one of the most important industries in America?
“They were trying to make a joke, but it wasn’t funny, and it points to something very serious,” Sharpton said, seguing into a look at this morning’s Golden Globe nominations. He showed a clip of the nominees’ names being read this morning for TV cameras.
“All of the nominees were deserving, but we couldn’t help but notice 64 of the nominees were white and only six were non-white. Clearly there is a problem in Hollywood,” he said, adding that he hoped the hacked emails had restarted the conversation – again.
Sharpton said he’d received a call from Pascal today after releasing his initial statement this morning that blasted her and Rudin. “I told her I was very offended. She says, ‘Well, maybe I can sit down and talk about how we deal with [it],’ and I said, ‘I’m not sure where I am on your apology’,” Sharpton told his audience. He wondered if there were any high-level African-Americans in Hollywood “with real power to trigger the deals, the movies, the roles in Hollywood.”
One such person — in the TV industry anyway — Shonda Rhimes already has spoken out about the email exchange, suggesting the media stop calling the emails “racially insensitive remarks” and start calling them what they are, “racist.”
She tweeted today:
Also to Sharpton’s point: Chris Rock, who recently wrote a piece for a trade publication railing against racism in Hollywood, was asked to weigh in on the Sony email exchange during a Twitter Q&A today to promote his film Top Five — but he declined. And Oprah Winfrey today tweeted to her 26 million followers to promote Paramount’s Martin Luther King Jr. Oscar contender Selma, which she produced. But she has not commented publicly on the Pascal-Rudin exchange.
Earlier today, Sharpton, whose MSNBC show PoliticsNation is struggling to compete in the ratings with CNN these days, compared Pascal to the former LA Clippers owner whose racist comments in a leaked phone conversation led to his selling the team under intense pressure: “These emails nominate Amy Pascal to be considered by some of us in the same light that we concluded and moved on the ownership of Donald Sterling of the L.A. Clippers,” Sharpton said in a statement.
This comes as the studio braces for tonight’s premiere of The Interview, a comedy that depicts the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. North Korea has denied involvement in the Sony hacking but has applauded the crime.
Not long before Sharpton’s program, over on MSNBC’s sister network CNBC, Julia Boorstin reported on the “shock waves” reverberating in Hollywood with these latest leaks. “Sources tell me there has been a massive shift of any sensitive communication away from email and towards the phone,” she said. “I’m also hearing execs across the studios are searching all the emails they’ve ever had with Sony employees, some of them even making pre-emptive phone calls to those who might be offended if more emails leak out.”
Pascal and Rudin apologized for the email exchange in separate statements Thursday. Also today, actor-comedian Kevin Hart took to Instagram to address a separate email leaked by the hackers in which Sony’s Screen Gems head Clint Culpepper called the star of the studio’s upcoming comedy The Wedding Ringer a “whore” for asking for additional money to promote a film. Hart said he was protecting his brand.