Activist hackers have exposed a bigoted email exchange between Sony Pictures co-chairwoman and a top Hollywood producer, underscoring how America’s racial divide is not just limited to encounters between Blacks and law enforcement. It also extends to the nation’s boardrooms, and business, political and cultural sectors.
Before a breakfast of Hollywood bigwigs with Barack Obama last November, Sony Pictures co-chairwoman Amy Pascal (pictured center) emailed a friend, Scott Rudin, a top film producer, allegedly seeking advice on what to ask the president at the event, according to BuzzFeed.
In what has now become the latest exchange of embarrassing emails leaked by hackers who attacked Sony, BuzzFeed writes that Pascal wrote Rudin: “What should I ask the president at this stupid Jeffrey breakfast?” She was referring to a breakfast hosted by DreamWorks Animation head and major Democratic donor Jeffrey Katzenberg, the report says.
Rudin, a top film producer responsible for films like “No Country for Old Men” and “Moneyball,” responded, “Would he like to finance some movies.” Pascal replied, “I doubt it. Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?” Rudin responded: “12 YEARS.” Pascal quickly continued down the path of guessing Obama preferred movies by or starring African Americans. “Or the butler. Or think like a man? [sic]”
Rudin’s response: “Ride-along. I bet he likes Kevin Hart (pictured right).”
At a fundraiser later that evening at DreamWorks’ studio, Obama didn’t express a particular preference for the films Rudin and Pascal listed, telling a crowd of Hollywood executives, “Believe it or not, entertainment is part of our American diplomacy.”
BuzzFeed reports that Pascal is a major Democratic donor, giving $5,000 to Obama’s re-election campaign and $30,800 to the Democratic National Committee, according to OpenSecrets.
At the event, Obama reportedly praised Hollywood’s ability to depict
America’s all over the world: “If they’re watching an old movie—“Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” or “Will and Grace” and “Modern Family”—they’ve had a front-row seat to our march towards progress. Even if their own nations haven’t made that progress yet.”
Indeed, it is a slow march toward progress. Recent events of police violence in the Black community and the alleged Sony email thread show that racial equity or diversity in the U.S. is just as unreal as a Hollywood movie, especially when it comes to jobs, the criminal justice system and the entertainment industry.
Pascal has apologized for the offensive emails, according to Deadline, saying:
“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.”
Despite the apology, the backlash appears to be far from over. Activist and broadcast host Rev. Al Sharpton compared her to disgraced former L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling and called for her to meet with Black business leaders in Los Angeles. In a statement Thursday afternoon, he said:
“The statements in the leaked emails by Sony Pictures Co-Chairman Amy Pascal to producer Scott Rudin are offensive, insulting and should be denounced in the harshest terms.What is most troubling about these statements is that they reflect a continued lack of diversity in positions of power in major Hollywood studios. The statements clearly show how comfortable major studio powers are with racial language and marginalization. Her apology is not enough there must be moves by her studio and others to respect the African American community and reflect that respect in their hiring and business practices.She should meet with Black leaders immediately to deal with the gravity of her statements as well as the inequality of how they do business. I have asked Rev. KW Tulloss of National Action Network’s Los Angeles Chapter to convene an emergency meeting to weigh further actions in this area.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.”
Rev. Sharpton’s syndicated radio show, “Keepin’ It Real With Al Sharpton,” is carried by Radio One.