The Nov. 24 Sony hacking has become a public relations nightmare for the company after employees’ personal email exchanges were leaked online.
In another, Rudin and Pascal made a series of racial jokes about President Barack Obama.
Rudin has since apologized for his comments about Obama, telling 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 I’m profoundly and deeply sorry.”
Pascal made a public apology for her remarks in a statement on Thursday, saying: “The content of my emails to Scott were insensitive and inappropriate but are not an accurate reflection of who I am.”
The Sony co-chair has long been one of Hollywood’s most influential power players and now finds herself at the center of the scandal.
“The entire staff was turned upside down when it happened,” an insider tells PEOPLE.
However, Hollywood crisis expert Howard Bragman thinks that both Rudin and Pascal will be fine. “This is a speed bump, not a sinkhole,” he tells PEOPLE. “Scott could say this one day about Angelina, and he could book her for a movie the next day. Part of living in Hollywood is developing a thick skin. Angelina Jolie has weathered her share of criticism, and it’s not damaging her.”
What happens to the various projects in development at Sony in the wake of the hack, such as Jolie’s Cleopatra, which was a source of contention between Rudin and Pascal, or the long-delayed Steve Jobs biopic?
The Egyptian epic remains on hold, having been set aside so that Jolie could direct Unbroken.
Meanwhile, Aaron Sorkin’s Jobs has moved to Universal. Danny Boyle has signed on to direct, while Michael Fassbender will star, despite the fact that the Newsroom creator wanted Tom Cruise for the part, as another series of leaked emails revealed.
“I don’t know who Michael Fassbender is and the rest of the world isn’t going to care. This is insane,” wrote Sorkin in an email published on Arstechnica.com. (He eventually warmed up to the idea, writing in a later exchange: “He’s a great actor whose time has come.”)
But what about the film rumored to be the reason for the hack, The Interview? That movie, which stars Seth Rogen and James Franco as journalists recruited to kill the leader of North Korea, will move forward with its Dec. 25 release in spite of an apparent threat from the group reportedly behind the cyberattack, the Guardians of Peace.
“Stop immediately showing that movie of terrorism,” read a message dated Dec. 8.
However, there will be no interviews at the film’s Los Angeles premiere on Thursday.
The company’s musical remake Annie is also still on track for its Dec. 19 release. The film was one of a number of movies uploaded to the Internet over Thanksgiving, which could affect its bottom line. And for a company that stands to lose as much $100 million from this hack, that has the potential to be disastrous.
There is a bit of good news, though: the film’s star Quvenzhané Wallis earned a surprise Golden Globe nomination on Thursday morning.
For now, Sony’s DVD and PlayStation releases are on schedule, though the gaming system was hacked again on Dec. 8 by the Lizard Squad.
Persistent rumors that North Korea is behind the attacks on Sony because of The Interview have not been addressed. “Everything is under investigation and the staff aren’t being told what caused it as of now and if the whole Interview theory about North Korea is even remotely true,” the Sony insider told PEOPLE.
According to The New York Times, the country has denied responsibility for the attacks, though a spokesman did say the hack “might be a righteous deed of the supporters and sympathizers with” North Korea.
The country has called the movie “an act of war.”