Karma? Sony-Hack Book Proposals Leaked Around Hollywood

The Wall Street Journal's Ben Fritz and Variety's Peter Bart promise new revelations about Amy Pascal's compensation, the friction with 'Interview' stars Seth Rogen and James Franco, and a larger indictment of the artistic bankruptcy of Hollywood moviemaking.

A version of this story first appeared in the July 3 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Six months after the Sony hack brought a studio to its knees, the first books about the debacle are being pitched by journalists to publishers. And as befitting a story about leaked documents, the proposals themselves have now been leaked around Hollywood.

Wall Street Journal reporter Ben Fritz and former Variety editor Peter Bart (who, coincidentally, was Fritz's boss from 2004 to 2009) both are promising to offer a tick-tock retelling of the hack, according to the proposals reviewed by THR. They say they will reveal such juicy new details as Amy Pascal's exact compensation as Sony co-chair and will put the hack into bigger context by using the revealed documents to discuss the decline of the midbudget movie as exemplified by the infamous email debate over the Aaron Sorkin-penned biopic Jobs.

With an eye on the larger, nonindustry audience, Fritz and Bart both are painting the hack as a human drama, especially the pairing of Pascal (Fritz: "a gut-driven fiery throwback"; Bart: "tough-talking movie buff") and Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton (Fritz: "cerebral and detached"; Bart: "resolutely diplomatic") as the central characters.  

Bart's pitch for Bomb: How The Interview Became the Most Celebrated Flop in Hollywood History also depicts the film's stars James Franco and Seth Rogen as sophomoric fools. But Bart's real villain is email itself, which Sony execs used to avoid "personal confrontations or phone calls," which "explodes in their faces."

On the contrary, Fritz's Hacked: Sony Pictures and the Reprogramming of Hollywood pitches a broader story of how Hollywood studios have become "brand factories" akin to Procter & Gamble. He plans to take long side detours into Sony’s ups and downs with Spider-Man, the studio’s aborted idea to blend the Jump Street and Men in Black franchises into an all-new sci-fi action comedy franchise, and how TV came to trump movies. Finally, he would turn to Netflix and Amazon's attempts to "reprogram" Hollywood by providing a home for midbudget movies on the streaming services.  

Sources say that as of Tuesday, Fritz hadn't yet garnered a book deal, while Bart may have accepted an offer to pursue a different project and moved on from Sony. But the prospect of a fresh round of stories and revelations about Sony and its players is sure to put Hollywood on edge again.

As Bart quotes The Interview's fictional Kim Jong Un: "You know what's more destructive than a nuclear bomb? Words."

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