Sony Pictures Co-Chair Amy Pascal apologized on Thursday for remarks she made in a series of emails with producer Scott Rudin focused on black-themed movies that the pair joked President Barack Obama might like.
The emails were made public earlier this week after being leaked as part of a massive computer hack targeting the studio.
“The content of my emails to Scott were insensitive and inappropriate but are not an accurate reflection of who I am,” Pascal 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.”
Rudin issued an earlier apology, saying in a statement to Deadline.com that his remarks were meant to be funny, “but in the cold light of day, they are in fact thoughtless and insensitive.”
The email exchange — which was published by BuzzFeed — occurred in November 2013, with the pair discussing an upcoming visit by Obama, and Pascal writing, “Should I ask him if he liked Django,” a reference to the slavery-themed film “Django Unchained.” Rudin then wrote, “12 Years,” in reference to “12 Years a Slave,” the Oscar-winning slave-trade drama. The pair went on to reference the films “Think Like A Man” and “Ride-Along,” suggesting the president “likes Kevin Hart.”
The exchange earned Pascal a scolding from the Rev. Al Sharpton, who called the comments “offensive” and “insulting” and compared Pascal to former Los Angeles Clippers owners Donald Sterling, who sold the NBA team after his racially charged comments were made public.
“What is most troubling about these statements is that they reflect a continued lack of diversity in positions of power in major Hollywood studios,” Sharpton said. “The statements clearly show how comfortable major studio powers are with racial language and marginalization.”
Pascal’s apology came just hours ahead of the red carpet premiere of the Sony film “The Interview,” which has been the focus of speculation over the impetus for the computer hacking and whether North Korea was involved in the attack.
The premiere, scheduled for Thursday at the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, was expected to have stepped-up security. The film is a comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco as a producer and TV host who are sent to interview North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and are asked by the CIA to assassinate him.
Given the volatility surrounding the film, Sony Pictures announced earlier that there would not be any red carpet coverage by broadcast media outlets, and no interviews would be granted by Rogen, Franco and others.
The film opens on Christmas.