Amy Pascal Calls Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson: "I Want to Accept Responsibility"
After a leaked exchange with producer Scott Rudin that included racially charged language, the exec tells THR: "You're being judged on things that you said in a 10-second frame that were stupid"
After weathering one of the most embarrassing days in her career, during which her racially insensitive remarks were disseminated on the Internet, Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal is ready to begin the "healing process," and reached out to the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.
"I'm being proactive," the executive tells The Hollywood Reporter. "And I want to accept responsibility for these stupid, callous remarks."
Pascal said one of the first calls she made today — after a leaked email exchange between her and producer Scott Rudin became the most buzzed-about topics in town and throughout the country — was to Jackson.
"It was a very preliminary conversation, and we just talked about getting together and hoping to discuss a healing process," Pascal said. Of being labeled a racist, she added, "I know it's not true. And I know that doesn't reflect who I am or what I feel or what I've done. That certainly doesn't reflect this studio and what we've done here."
The email exchange, which was part of documents that have been posted after a massive Sony hack, discussed how Pascal should handle a meeting with President Obama at a Jeffrey Katzenberg-hosted fundraiser in November 2013. Pascal and Rudin appeared to mock movies featuring black casts and gauge the president's possible interest in them.
"Would he like to finance some movies?" Rudin wrote, referring to the president. Pascal wrote back, "I doubt it. Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?" Rudin responded with "12 YEARS," and Pascal volleyed back by listing other films starring African-Americans: "Or the butler. Or think like a man? [sic]." Rudin suggested that the president might especially like comedian Kevin Hart.
In the wake of the leak, speculation mounted that Pascal might be forced to step down, but she says she has the full support of her parent company, Sony Corp., and her bosses in Japan. "That is completely untrue," she said. "I still have the full support of the company."
She also has been receiving support from the community, with Aaron Sorkin and George Clooney rallying around her.
Pascal added: "I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. You're being judged on things that you said in a 10-second frame that were stupid. And that's not my whole career and everything I've done. I'm concerned about that, but I'm also concerned about employees here who are being violated, and they're scared. They didn't do anything to deserve this. It's very unfair."
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As for Sharpton, she said he accepted her apologies. "He was very warm," she said. "I told him I'm coming to New York and will speak with him."
The relationship with Rudin appears to be salvageable. Despite emails that Pascal sent to a lieutenant demanding that Rudin be released from his contract with Sony, Pascal says he is still a producer with Sony.
"I talked to Scott [since all of these emails were leaked]," she said. "Scott feels equally bad. We both feel hideously embarrassed and disappointed in ourselves. He is still a producer at Sony. Everyone is reading through these emails and trying to decipher what's going on at the studio. I'm sure you've written emails that you wouldn't want other people trying to be figuring out."
Instead, Pascal is attempting to look forward, even if that means more damaging information is leaked. "They have a lot of info that they stole from our company," she said. "I have no idea what they will release. There's identity theft going on. It seems to have become focused on my emails. But that's hardly the most important thing that's happened. I think the conversation needs to switch to a conversation that a crime was committed, and that things have been stolen from our company that people are profiting from."
It's been more than two weeks since a group dubbed Guardians of Peace breached Sony's servers and took with them massive amounts of data. Pascal says there's no resolution in sight. She rejected the possibility of a connection between the hack and the movie The Interview, and insisted tonight's premiere would be "great."
"I don't know how close they are to solving the crime," she said. "I'm not thinking about that. I'm not talking about that. We have the right people investigating what happened. The thing I'm focusing on is the future."