Sony Hack: Michael Lynton Discussed 'The Interview' With State Department Official
"Spoke to someone very senior in State (confidentially). He agreed with everything you have been saying," the Sony Pictures CEO wrote in a June email
The hacked email inbox of Michael Lynton shows the Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO writing that he had corresponded with a "senior"-level State Department official over the plot of the The Interview, according to messages published by The Daily Beast. The film has become the center of a firestorm as it is believed that the totalitarian regime is linked to the hacking of the studio.
The news website reports that Lynton was conversing with RAND Corporation defense analyst Bruce W. Bennett, who had offered his take on the film, which revolves around Seth Rogen and James Franco's characters assassinating North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Bennett, according to a June 25 email posted by The Daily Beast, wrote to Lynton: "I have been clear that the assassination of Kim Jong-Un is the most likely path to a collapse of the North Korean government. Thus while toning down the ending may reduce the North Korean response, I believe that a story that talks about the removal of the Kim family regime and the creation of a new government by the North Korean people (well, at least the elites) will start some real thinking in South Korea and, I believe, in the North once the DVD leaks into the North (which it almost certainly will)."
A response (it is not clear if it is a direct response to that email) from the Sony exec read: "Bruce — Spoke to someone very senior in State (confidentially). He agreed with everything you have been saying. Everything. I will fill you in when we speak."
A RAND spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter that Bennett was not a paid consultant on the Sony film. "This was simply sharing some observations," the spokesperson said.
The emails from Lynton are only a snippet of the 12,466 messages that were leaked from his account.
Leaked emails that were previously released show that Sony executives had discussed the particulars of the death scene.
Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal wrote about the editing of the Kim Jong Un scene in a Sept. 28 email, according to a Bloomberg report on Dec. 9.
"In shot #337 there is no face melting, less fire in the hair, fewer embers on the face, and the head explosion has been considerably obscured by the fire, as well as darkened to look less like flesh,” the exec is quoted as saying. “We arrived at this shot (#337) after much cajoling and resistance from the filmmakers."
The film is still scheduled for U.S. release on Dec. 25, but multiple theater chains have canceled screenings of the title.
Dec. 17, 9:25 a.m. Updated with comment from a RAND spokesperson