The 5 Most Embarrassing Revelations From Sony’s Sprawling Hack

Casual racism, star bashing and secret strategies suddenly go public

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The true scope of a massive hacking attack against Sony Pictures remains unknown, but one thing is clear: Each new revelation seems to dig the studio only deeper into a public relations sinkhole.

Problems began in late November when Sony employees arrived at work to find their computers compromised. A hacker group calling itself Guardians of Peace, or #GOP, threatened to release highly sensitive documents, from executive salaries to overblown movie budgets, if Sony didn't comply with some demands.

The group's demands centered on the upcoming release of The Interview, a comedy starring James Franco and Seth Rogen. The premise of the film involves an assassination plot against North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. While many have assumed North Korea's government was behind the hack, the FBI has so far found no direct link.

In the aftermath of the hack, media outlets have pored over mounds of leaked Sony Pictures emails, and plenty of humiliating details have arisen from the documents. If you've had trouble keeping up with all the revelations, here are the five most embarrassing so far:

5. Sony's password security was laughable

While not as salacious as many of the other leaked details, one of the most laughable is that Sony kept a list of its login details for social media and financial accounts in a directory literally titled "Password."

4. Producer Scott Rudin thinks Angelina Jolie is a "spoiled brat" 

A string of emails between Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman Amy Pascal and producer Scott Rudin, the man behind the highly anticipated Jobs film chronicling the life of Steve Jobs, revealed the well-known but rarely exposed nastiniess of showbiz.

One ongoing conversation dealt with Angelina Jolie's insistence on having David Fincher direct her rendition of Cleopatra, but Pascal and company had plans for the director to work on the Jobs film. Jolie was not pleased with the decision and apparently wouldn't back down.

At one point, Rudin fired back to Pascal about Cleopatra: "I'm not remotely interested in presiding over a $180m ego bath that we both know will be the career-defining debacle for us both. I'm not destroying my career over a minimally talented spoiled brat who thought nothing of shoving this off her plate for eighteen months so she could go direct a movie. I have no desire to be making a movie with her, or anybody, that she runs and that we don't. She's a camp event and a celebrity and that's all and the last thing anybody needs is to make a giant bomb with her that any fool could see coming." 

In another email, Rudin dismisses potential Jobs production partner Megan Ellison, daughter of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, as a "bipolar 28 year old lunatic." 

Since the emails leaked, someone snapped a photo of Jolie and Pascal appearing to have one of the most awkward conversations ever.

The conversations about Jolie and Ellison were part of the much larger implosion of Sony's plans for the Jobs biopic, which you can see in excrutiating detail on Mashable.  

3. An exec called Kevin Hart a 'whore'

Sony co-chair Pascal was a recurring participant in embarrassing email conversations that have since come to light, including a discussion with two other executives about actor Kevin Hart. Hart allegedly requested more money from the studio for tweeting about an upcoming film he would be starring in.

Studio exec Clint Culpepper responded to the situation by proclaiming: "I'm not saying he's a whore, but he's a whore. I never cease to be amazed at the chutzpah of actors."

Hart fired back with a statement via Instagram about the importance of self-worth and maintaining a personal brand:


#KnowYourselfWorth #HustleHart #MogulMindset

A photo posted by kevinhart4real (@kevinhart4real) on


2. Sony has been part of an industry cabal against Google and piracy

Attorneys from Sony, five other studios and The Motion Picture Association of America have spent much of the past year conspiring against Google over access to pirated content, according to many leaked emails that generally avoid naming the search giant and instead refer to it as "Goliath." 

The effort began after the failure of the federal SOPA initiative, with studios shifting their approach to lobbying at the state level and partnering with Internet service providers like Comcast. The collection of Hollywood lawyers even drafted a chart of high, medium and low priorities for cracking down on pirated content.

While not embarrassing in the titillating way that other leaks were, this high-level look at the movie industry's anti-piracy strategy was obviously not something Sony wanted in the public forum.

1. Execs shared a racial joke about President Obama

Another email exchange between Sony Pictures co-chair Amy Pascal and producer Scott Rudin, this one discussing President Obama, generated the most high-profile faux pas revealed by the hack.

Pascal was headed to a lunch, where the president would be in attendance, and shot off a quick note to buddy Rudin for suggestions of what to ask Obama. The two then passed a series of jokes back and forth about how Obama likely prefers movies starring black actors. 

Rudin: "Would he like to finance some movies." 

Pascal: "I doubt it. Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?"

Rudin: "12 YEARS [a Slave]." 

Pascal: "Or the butler. Or think like a man?"

Rudin: "Ride-along. I bet he likes Kevin Hart."

Both have since apologized, with Rudin noting: "I made a series of remarks that were meant only to be funny, but in the cold light of day, they are in fact thoughtless and insensitive—and not funny at all."

Pascal's apology followed shortly after: "The content of my emails were insensitive and inappropriate but are not an accurate reflection of who I am."

@ktjrichards Katie Richards is a staff writer for Adweek.