The Hollywood Reporter just took on George Clooney and top CAA agent Bryan Lourd, implying they were not being honest in Clooney’s bombshell Deadline interview last week about how no one would sign a petition of support for embattled Sony leaders Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal. A little backstory on why that interview happened seems in order here. More than a week before the Deadline interview, I’d heard Clooney and Lourd were trying to rally a petition; I called and was asked to sit tight and did, playing for the big scoop. So I knew from independent sources, going in, that they were trying to get Hollywood to sign a petition of support recognizing Sony was under attack, probably by a foreign government, and that the creative community stood together. I bugged them every day, and finally, Clooney and Lourd made good on their word, with a different and much newsier and less pleasant story than I had expected to write. That is why the story broke on Deadline.
I asked Clooney in that interview who had declined to sign, and he didn’t want to roll them under the bus. I had no choice but to take him at his word, but I wasn’t surprised people at the time would be reticent. I’d just spoken to numerous reps of talent who’d been publicly maligned in those stolen Sony emails, to find out the level of lingering damage. I couldn’t find anyone who’d sworn off working at Sony, and absolutely no one would go on the record. Some people wanted to hang back in case some other damning documents came out; most told me they didn’t want to place themselves in the cross hairs of the hackers. Who wants to stick their necks out and see their emails made public?
Clooney has a track record for being one of those guys who speaks up against a perceived injustice, or rallying in a crisis moment. He played a major role organizing the America: A Tribute To Heroes benefit concert that played on every network after 9/11; another, years later, for tsunami victims. It wasn’t a surprise to me that he and Lourd would mount a petition for Pascal and Lynton, who a week ago were the victims of a divide-and-conquer campaign and were taking blows by the hour and hanging on for dear life; at that time, few if anyone supported them. I have found both Clooney and Lourd to be truth tellers; I cannot think of a single time either lied to me over decades. I also cannot imagine what either stood to gain by painting a false picture about a petition people were scared to sign.
I do know that THR went ballistic after Deadline broke that story with Clooney. That publication under Janice Min has grown into a worthy competitor. But their senior editors have an inelegant habit of dialing and berating anyone who might have been responsible for a story broken by Deadline (trust me, I hear this every day). When my oldest daughter was a child, she’d sometimes covet a possession her cousin had that she didn’t; to snap her out of a bad mood we’d ask her if she’d been visited by the green-eyed monster, the one who keeps you from feeling happy with what you have because you’re focused on what somebody else got that you didn’t. THR brashly refuted Clooney and Lourd and mentioned a swarm of people denying their claims, but THR did not get a single person to make the claim on the record. Add to that the way THR conducts itself every day when on the losing end of a good story, and it makes me wonder if THR had a visit from the green-eyed monster; were they trying to get back at Clooney and Lourd for not presenting them with a story they simply didn’t deserve?
We’ll probably never know; Clooney and Lourd won’t roll those petition no-signers under the bus to mollify a trade. For the record, I know for a fact Clooney and Lourd had set out to organize a petition, and it’s easy for me to believe they ran into the wall Clooney described when Deadline published his account. Clooney reiterated his position last night, this before Sony decided to limited release The Interview.
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Said Clooney: “Bryan Lourd and I were sent a letter from the head of the MPAA Chris Dodd, which was to be circulated to the studios. It didn’t ask for support for the release of the film in the face of threats so we wrote a new letter and sent it to the MPAA. Over the next 24 hours Bryan asked several people to sign on to the petition. One said he would if others did the rest said flat-out ‘no.’ Chris Dodd told Bryan that he had no takers either. I’m not going to be baited into naming names. If The Hollywood Reporter has a list of heads of studios that would sign on in support of the release of this film then they should in fact get them to start a petition. The film is still yet to be released.”
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