Before Sony Pictures chair Amy Pascal attended a breakfast of Hollywood bigwigs last November with Barack Obama, she emailed her friend Scott Rudin for suggestions on what she should ask the president.
In what has become the latest embarrassing email uncovered in a trove of messages leaked by hackers who attacked Sony, 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.
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."
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."
Obama praised Hollywood's ability to depict the diversity of the United States 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."
Pascal is a major Democratic donor; she gave $5,000 to Obama's re-election campaign and cut a $30,800 check to the Democratic National Committee, according to OpenSecrets.
A Sony spokesperson declined to comment and Rudin did not respond immediately to BuzzFeed News for comment.
After the emails were published by BuzzFeed News last night, Scott Rudin apologized for their contents in comments made to Deadline.com.
“Private emails between friends and colleagues written in haste and without much thought or sensitivity, even when the content of them is meant to be in jest, can result in offense where none was intended,” he told Deadline. “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. To anybody I’ve offended, I’m profoundly and deeply sorry, and I regret and apologize for any injury they might have caused.”
Sony Pictures CEO Amy Pascal has also apologized for the contents of the emails, in a statement published by Variety:
"The content of my emails were insensitive and inappropriate but are not an accurate reflection of who I am,” she said. "Although this was a private communication that was stolen, I accept full responsibility for what I wrote and apologize to everyone who was offended.”
Matthew Zeitlin is a business reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Zeitlin reports on Wall Street and big banks.
Contact Matthew Zeitlin at email@example.com.
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