What If the Sony Email Leaks Were Taken Out of Context?

Sony has been taking hit after hit ever since anonymous hackers breached the company’s systems on November 24. The culprits, who may or may not be tied to North Korea, a country enraged about Sony’s upcoming Kim Jong Un assassination comedy The Interview, have not only leaked dozens of the company’s latest films, including this year’s Fury, but also hundreds of private internal emails. Mega producer Scott Rudin and Sony Pictures Entertainment Co-Chairman Amy Pascal came out looking the worst, with exchanges between two the spitting vitriol at Angelina Jolie, Kevin Hart, and Aaron Sorkin, among others.

However, regardless of how clear their messages seem to be, plenty of them were completely misunderstood. So, we’re here to clear up any confusion by placing the misinterpreted emails in the right context.

*Completely fictional context that we’ve made up to hopefully make this entire situation a little easier to laugh at.

Presumed context: In an email to Amy Pascal and Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, Screen Gems exec Clint Culpepper calls Kevin Hart a greedy whore for asking to get paid to do publicity.

“As I suspected, I got a call from Jeremy Zimmer informing me that they feel that if we’re going to take advantage of Kevin’s social media savvy that ‘they’ feel there is a price to be paid for it which is above and beyond the 3M he was paid to do the film. Jeremy was very clear that Kevin would do the normal publicity asked of him like junket, TV shows, radio interviews, etc. However the social media blitzkrieg would cost us. I told him I was in a big meeting but would call him back. I’m tempted to suggest we call his bluff. If his film does NOT perform it hurts his brand and we have his next 3 films. I’m not saying he’s a whore, but he’s a whore.”

Actual context: Darn autocorrect. When Culpepper called Hart a “whore” for wanting some extra pay to use his vast social media to help promote the movie, he meant to type something else. It’s supposed to be, “I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve the money, but we’re cheap and we want that money. We want all the money. Money money money money money money. How dare someone else want to be paid for work? xoxo!” It’s a common mistake.

Presumed context: Scott Rudin emails Amy Pascal about the Cleopatra movie with the shitty script that Angelina Jolie wants David Fincher to direct.

“I’ve told you exactly how I want to do this material. It’s the ONLY way I want to do this material. 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. We will end up being the laughing stock of our industry and we will deserve it, which is so clearly where this is headed that I cannot believe we are still wasting our time with it.”

Actual context: Rudin is still upset about the Jennifer Aniston and Jolie trash magazine war. He doesn’t see the film as a multimillion dollar project, but rather a quaint rom-com, with Aniston dressed as Cleo meeting someone like Jason Sudeikis as Caesar at their best friend’s Halloween party. The end of this email that didn’t get leaked was Rudin’s email signature, “Scott Rudin. Sent from my iPhone. Team Aniston 4ever.”

Presumed context: Amy Pascal, Doug Belgrad, and Andrew Gumpert, President of Business Affairs and Administration for Columbia Pictures, discuss the pay for the top line actors involved in David O’Russell’s American Hustle, revealing the gender pay disparities in the company. Gumpert details the talent deals:

“The current talent deals are:  O’Russell: 9%; Cooper: 9%; Bale: 9%; Renner: 9%; Lawrence: 7%; Adams: 7%.”

Actual context: Here, Gumpert is discussing how they’re going to split the pot of their fantasy football league. Lawrence and Adams are getting less because they’re women and what do they know about football?

Presumed context: In a thread between Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Amy Pascal, and other Sony execs, Tatum expresses his excitement about 22 Jump Street coming in as the second best-ever opening for an R-rating comedy, a position formerly held by Ted.


Actual context: Ted is actually the guy who came in third place at Tatum and Hill’s annual potato sack race. Ted thinks he’s going to win, like, every year. Not this year, my friend.

Presumed context: In an email from George Clooney to Amy Pascal and other Sony execs, the actor expresses his excitement about his next directorial effort, Hack Attack, which follows the UK phone scandal involving Rupert Murdoch. 

“how much fun are we gonna have…the stakes are higher than citizen kane…if we tell the truth in a compelling way…rupert won’t get time/warner…cnn won’t be fox….i’m so excited to do this film..and for those of you listening in…i’m the son of a news man…everything will be double sourced..so come on with your lawsuits…fuckers…,”

Actual context: Clooney was testing out emailing through Siri, hence all the ellipses. As everyone knows, Siri isn’t the best voice-to-text system. He was actually emailing about a surprise birthday party for Rupert, who won’t have the time to be warned about it. He’s buying steaks for everyone. Presents will include M&Ms and a cigar box, not “CNN won’t be fox.” Instead of “come on with your lawsuits,” he meant “put on your party boots!” The F-word dropping is spot on, but it’s meant in more of an endearing way.

Presumed context: Michael De Luca, co-president of production at Columbia Pictures, discusses considering Michael Fassbender for the Steve Jobs movie with WME and Sony, which brings them to a discussion about Fassbender’s career and the size of his penis.

Shame just makes you feel bad to have normal sized male genitalia, unless Aaron is Johnny Wad Holmes he’s in for a bummer of an evening. I’d steer mark to fassbenders roles in inglorious bastards where he’s basically Cary Grant, Prometheus where he’s basically Peter o toole, and x men first class where he’s just very very good. His role in 12 Years and his performance of it rivals Ralph Fiennes’ iconic depiction of twisted, racial sadistic violence as Amon Goeth for making horror watchable. Also very good as Rochester in Cary Fukunagas Jane Eyre. I’ll tell him.”

Actual context: De Luca is expressing that it isn’t the size of Fassbender’s boat, it’s the motion of the ocean at the box office. He wants producers to know that Fassbender is a huge member of the Hollywood elite, and he’s got the credits to prove it. He appreciates how hard Fassbender has worked to get here today, and he hopes that he’ll have an extremely long career.

Presumed context: According to Amy Pascal, in an email to Doug Belgrad, president of Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group, as well as Michael De Luca and Hannah Minghella, the co-presidents of production at Columbia, Aaron Sorkin is broke and dating the author of Molly’s Game, a book that he’s adapting.

[Photo Credit: Gawker]

Actual context: Pascal comes off as a type of mean girl here, but the leaked emailed doesn’t include emoticons. Here’s how it actually looks: “He is broke :(… I don’t care if Aaron is sleeping with the girl or not 🙂 (as long as he’s happy!)”

Sometimes good intentions get lost in the wording. Face-to-face communication is so important.

Presumed context: In an email chain between Tom Rothman, chairman of Sony’s TriStar division, Doug Belgrad, president of SPE’s Motion Picture Group, and Amy Pascal, SPE’s co-chairman, the trio discuss the T magazine interview “Jaden and Willow Smith on Prana Energy, Time and Why School is Overrated,” Rothman suggests the sibling duo are crazy. Rothman writes:

“1. Read this.
2. they r home schooled: don’t let this family date your movies!!!”

Actual context: Rothman, having never stepped foot in a classroom before, is incredibly jealous of the Smith siblings’ education. “they r home schooled,” drips with jealousy. The email continues, “3. me learn english by self. 4. angry!!!!”

Presumed context: Amy Pascal discusses Cameron Crowe’s untitled 2015 movie, starring Emma Stone and Bradley Cooper, with her colleagues, and Pascal suggests that it will bomb.

[Photo Credit: Gawker]

Actual context: Amy Pascal is seeking feedback for the material she’s going to perform at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe.

Presumed context: In a leaked file titled “Sony_2012_Comments,” Sony employees give feedback on the company, and specifically cite their hatred of Adam Sandler movies.

“There is a general ‘blah-ness’ to the films we produce. Althought we manage to produce an innovative film once in awhile, Social Network, Moneyball, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, we continue to be saddled with the mundane, formulaic Adam Sandler films. Let’s raise the bar a little on the films we produce, and inspire employees that they are working on the next Social Network. That said, there’s a strange dichotomy of encouraging us to be fiscally responsible, but then upper management allows certain talent and filmmakers to bleed us dry with their outlandish requests for private jets, wardrobe and grooming stylists- and are surprised when they are asked to work more than 5 hours to promote their film.”

Actual context: The original file name was, “Sony_2012_Sick_Burns_for_Company_Roast_Event”

Presumed context: Judd Apatow wrote an email to Amy Pascal expressing how he is pissed about Sony dropping his movie Trainwreck the same day as his BFF Adam Sandler’s Pixels.

“Why did you move your movie into my date? I never put my movies on Sandler’s dates. Never. He hadn’t either. We all respect each other. We don’t try to hurt each other. I am not pleased that you all did that to me. And the [Amy] Schumer movie is spectacular. It won’t be the easy comedy weekend. You have miscalculated.”

Actual context: This is a sore subject for Apatow. Not only did Pascal schedule his friend’s film to be released the same day as his, but one time Pascal threw a party the same day as Apatow’s. Like, she knew about it, too.

Presumed context: In an email from Spike Lee’s agent Bart Walker to Doug Belgrad, President of SPE Entertainment Group, Walker details a School Daze Too remake Lee has in the works for Drake and Kevin Hart.” 

“This is a new draft that Spike has written after meetings with Drake, who will play the lead role of PE*NIS, and Kevin Hart who will play DAT NIGGA JIGGA. The budget is $ 9 million (net, after Georgia tax credits), not including historic costs, star salaries, creative producer fees. I believe in the film both as an entertainment — a college film —  and as a provocative and exciting piece about the conflict of traditional values (education, college) and hip hop/star/celebrity culture. Why go to college to get a job to make money when you can make more money rapping, stripping, and creating salacious music videos even if they demean women?

Actual context: Spike Lee’s agent accidentally sent his would-be presentation for his old middle school’s career day to Sony instead.

Presumed context: Tom Rothman, President of TriStar Productions, angrily vents to Keith Weaver, EVP of Worldwide Government Affairs for Sony, about an email Spielberg sent him requesting his presence at a fundraiser to back potential democratic candidates, including Hillary Clinton, who may run for President in 2016.

“This is from steven spielberg, who has hit me for 32 fucking k for some Hilary event for the senate Can you pls check and see if, please god, I have already given to that so that I can’t give that much now. These guys are killing me…”

Actual context: Rothman and Spielberg’s kids go to the same school. Now the director is actually strapped for cash, thanks to miscalculating the amount of money he’s donated to their kids’ elementary school’s production of Hilary. Rothman, meanwhile, is pissed because he gave most of his own money to the PTA bake sale.

Presumed context: Kanye West will make a cameo in an untitled film directed by Jonathan Levine and starring Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, which is due out next year. Producer James Weaver, in an email exchange between Rogen, and producing partner Evan Goldberg, and Amy Pascal, details the specifics of Kanye’s scene.

“We’ll have an XMAS tease for 2015. We have a specific idea to attach to THE INTERVIEW that will crush. Seth, Joe, and [Anthony] Mackie reenacting the scene from BIG on the floor piano at FAO Schwartz with KANYE WEST. It’s fucking awesome.”

Actual context: Weaver, still recovering from Burning Man, sent this email to his closest BFFs in the middle of the night after his latest acid trip. The unpublished reply email from Rogen read, “Go to sleep, Weaver.”

[Photo Credit: Getty Images]

Tara Aquino is an entertainment writer based out of L.A. She likes people, places, and things.