Former Sony Exec Amy Pascal On Being Fired, Hacked Emails, & More

Photo: Jim Smeal/BEImages
A week ago, it was announced that co-chairwoman of Sony Pictures Entertainment Amy Pascal was resigning. Pascal, one of the most powerful women in Hollywood, was more or less collateral damage from the fallout of the Great Sony Hack surrounding The Interview, which gave people an unprecedented look at how industry folks talk to (and about) each other. Yesterday, she sat down for a frank conversation with Tina Brown at the Women in the World conference in San Francisco. It was remarkable for many reasons, the first of which being that she used the word "fired" instead of the gentler "resigned," which implies she had no choice in the matter.

Pascal was visibly upset at being called racist for the jokes she and Scott Rudin lobbed via email about the kind of movies President Obama might enjoy (for the record, Boyhood was his top pick of the year). According to Variety, when Brown asked her about these particular emails, Pascal said, "It was horrible. That was horrible. As a woman, what I did was control how everybody felt about themselves and about me... and there was this horrible moment when I realized there was absolutely nothing I could do about whether I'd hurt people, whether I'd betrayed people," adding, "There is nothing you can do. You can't say anything. You can't explain anything. It's just there."

Pascal apologized for the emails when they first leaked in December in an official statement. "The content of my emails were insensitive and inappropriate but are not an accurate reflection of who I am," she said. "[A]lthough this was a private communication that was stolen, I accept full responsibility for what I wrote and apologize to everyone who was offended." It seems a little hasty to give Pascal a pass for the content of the emails, stolen or not; apologizing that someone was offended isn't quite the same thing as apologizing for saying something offensive.

As for the information about how female stars were paid less than their counterparts — for instance, Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle or Charlize Theron for the upcoming sequel The Huntsman — Pascal had a fairly business-like view of things.

"I've paid [Lawrence] a lot more money since then, I promise you.... Here's the problem: I run a business. People want to work for less money, I pay them less money.... Women shouldn't be so grateful. Know what you're worth. Walk away." 

Pascal had more to say on the matter, including her take on the journalists who published the leaked emails. Although she's no longer an executive, she's got a sweet production deal at Sony that ensures she'll be calling some pretty big shots for years to come. And, hopefully, continuing to tell it like it is in Hollywood. (Re/code, Variety)
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