This story first appeared in the Dec. 18 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
“There was a very distinct energy in the room,” recalls photographer Alex Berliner of THR’s 2014 Women in Entertainment Power 100 breakfast, which unfolded at Milk Studios on Dec. 10 amid the chaos of the Sony Pictures hack.
Only a day earlier, two of the event’s highest-profile invitees — then-Sony Pictures chief Amy Pascal and Angelina Jolie Pitt — were embroiled in a hack-related scandal: An email exchange surfaced online between Pascal and producer Scott Rudin in which Rudin called the star “a minimally talented spoiled brat.”
Berliner’s camera captured Pascal and Jolie Pitt’s first encounter that morning.
“It’s one of those things that you say, ‘Great, I got the image — and, boy, was that a tough situation to document,’ ” says Berliner of the photo, one of four he was able to snap before a handler stepped in front of him, saying, “That’s enough — that’s just a moment between them.” (In one of Berliner’s later shots, Pascal leans in for a kiss on the cheek; Jolie Pitt maintains an impassive gaze through all four.)
Pascal later said of the email imbroglio: “We all live in this weird thing together called Hollywood. If we all actually were nice, it wouldn’t work.” Jolie Pitt, meanwhile, made her first comment about the feud in November to The New York Times: “Honestly, my first instinct was that I was worried about Amy,” she said. “I had someone call her and ask if she was OK.”
Berliner, for his part, isn’t sure what to make of the “most awkward breakfast in history,” as he describes it. “I can’t rely on my memory at this point,” he says. “I was there, I took a picture, I was told to go away, I went away.”