Sony Pictures Entertainment requested news outlets stop disclosing material from a devastating computer hack as its studio chief made plans to meet a civil-rights leader after the exposure of a racially tinged e-mail exchange.
Media companies should destroy the stolen information and will be held responsible for damages from its publication, attorney David Boies wrote to news organizations, including Bloomberg News and the New York Times, in a Dec. 14 letter.
Sony Pictures “does not consent to your possession, review, copying, dissemination, publication, uploading, downloading, or making any use of the stolen information, and to request your cooperation in destroying the stolen information,” Boies wrote. Failure to comply means Sony “will have no choice but to hold you responsible for any damage or loss.”
The Sony Corp. unit is widening its efforts to stem damage from the release of employee salaries, health records, movie stars’ fees and e-mails never intended for public consumption. Among those whose words have come back to haunt her is studio chief Amy Pascal, who last year bantered in an e-mail exchange with producer Scott Rudin about whether U.S. President Barack Obama might favor movies with black casts.
Pascal plans to meet the Reverend Al Sharpton this week, Sharpton’s spokeswoman, Jacky Johnson, said in an e-mail. Pascal, who runs Sony’s film studio as co-chairman of the unit, called her own words “insensitive and inappropriate” in a statement last week, and Rudin also apologized.
Pascal told Bloomberg News last week she has the support of Sony Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai.
Sony declined to comment on how its management is handling the response to the hacking, a spokesman in Tokyo wrote in an e-mail. Sony fell 3.6 percent to 2,353 yen at 2:05 p.m. in Tokyo. The Japan-traded shares have fallen more than 7 percent since the hack on Sony Pictures, based in Culver City, California, was made public on Nov. 25.
Investigators into the unprecedented cyber-attack have linked it to “The Interview,” a comedy that depicts the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and is set for release on Christmas Day.
The hack reaches to the highest level of the parent company based in Tokyo. CEO Hirai personally approved scenes in “The Interview” and gave instructions to tone down the scene depicting the Korean leader’s fiery death, according to e-mails made public by the hackers.
Over the weekend, hackers released more data and news outlets reported that the script and other details from the next movie in the James Bond spy series were stolen. In addition to the law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, Sony hired crisis public-relations adviser Rubenstein Communications Inc. to aid in the response and technology security firm Mandiant to help the investigation.
The stolen information includes material covered by U.S. and foreign legal doctrines protecting attorney-client privilege and attorney work product, Boies said in the letter to the news publishers.
Ty Trippet, a spokesman for Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, declined to comment.
Sony Pictures has reached out to other major Hollywood studios seeking letters of support, according to a person familiar with the matter who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.
While Pascal said there would be no changes to “The Interview” or its release plans, Crackle, a Sony online video site, has pushed back the release date of an upcoming hacker movie “The Throwaways,” trade publication Variety reported.
E-mails from the account of Pascal, who supported the film internally, have produced some of the most revealing details. Some cast the 56-year-old executive as waffling on whether to proceed with a project on Steve Jobs, then asking Rudin to bring the movie back to Sony.
Shonda Rhimes, one of the most successful television producers in Hollywood, on Twitter called the exchanges discussing Obama as “racist.”
Ava DuVernay, the director of “Selma” who last week became the first black woman to be nominated for a Golden Globe for film directing, has spoken out, as has actor Kevin Hart, who was called a “whore” by a Sony executive for seeking additional compensation related to his social media presence.
Rudin also called heiress Megan Ellison, a producing and financing partner on Sony films, “bipolar.”