Sony Film Executives Apologize for Racially Tinged Emails About Obama
LOS ANGELES — Embarrassing, racially tinged emails about President Obama’s imagined movie tastes, posted online by hackers and reported by news sites, prompted public apologies on Thursday from Sony Pictures Entertainment’s movie chief and one of its top producers.
“To anybody I’ve offended, I’m profoundly and deeply sorry, and I regret and apologize for any injury they might have caused,” the film producer Scott Rudin said in a statement after the disclosure of his private email banter with Amy Pascal, Sony’s co-chairwoman, about Mr. Obama and black-themed films. “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.”
Ms. Pascal said in her own statement: “The content of my emails to Scott were insensitive and inappropriate but are not an accurate reflection of who I am. Although this was a private communication that was stolen, I accept full responsibility for what I wrote and apologize to everyone who was offended.”
The email exchange in question, reported by BuzzFeed, took place before Ms. Pascal attended a breakfast for Mr. Obama that was organized by Jeffrey Katzenberg, chief executive of DreamWorks Animation.
“What should I ask the president at this stupid Jeffrey breakfast?” Ms. Pascal asked Mr. Rudin in an opening query. She then speculated that she might ask if Mr. Obama liked “Django Unchained,” about a former slave. Mr. Rudin countered with a suggestion about “12 Years a Slave,” while Ms. Pascal suggested other films involving African-Americans.
Finally, Mr. Rudin wrote: “Ride-along. I bet he likes Kevin Hart.” The email referred to a broad comedy, from Universal Pictures, that starred Mr. Hart and Ice Cube.
Mr. Rudin, who has been a producer of films like “Captain Phillips” and “The Social Network” for Sony, added in his apology, first posted on Deadline.com, that “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.”
The emails were disclosed as part of a continuing dump of documents by hackers who attacked Sony’s computer systems, beginning in late November.
In a separate email exchange, also disclosed online, another Sony executive, Clint Culpepper, used harsh language in suggesting that the studio rebuff a salary demand from Mr. Hart, who has starred in several films for the company’s Screen Gems unit, including a coming movie, “The Wedding Ringer.”
“I’m not saying he’s a whore, but he’s a whore,” Mr. Culpepper wrote.
Representatives of the studio did not comment on Mr. Culpepper’s remarks. A spokeswoman for Mr. Hart directed a reporter seeking comment to an assertive post on his Instagram account. “I will never allow myself to be taken advantage of,” Mr. Hart wrote. “I refuse to be broken.”
Also on Thursday, the Rev. Al Sharpton, in a statement, condemned the exchange between Ms. Pascal and Mr. Rudin as “offensive, insulting” and took further aim at Ms. Pascal, saying her comments reflected a “troubling” lack of diversity at her studio and others.
People familiar with Sony’s response to the attack, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly, have said they expect to face further unauthorized disclosures in the days ahead.