For those of you who want to know more about why the Steve Jobs movie left Sony and went to Universal, it’s all there in the emails, as studio chief Amy Pascal (who we now know earns base salary of $3 million a year, along with her studio partner Michael Lynton), and “A Social Network” producer Rudin dicker over David Fincher’s involvement in “Cleopatra,” written by Eric Roth and starring Jolie, as well as Danny Boyle’s “Jobs,” which Rudin finally withdrew from Sony as Pascal begged him to keep the project at Sony and let her make it work.
For those of us who know these bigger-than-life Hollywood moguls, it’s fun to see the power playing and emotional manipulation–obviously, these two people share longstanding mutual respect and are comfortable and intimate enough to engage candidly and fiercely. It also reveals how emotionally fragile they both are–Rudin admits to not liking to be made to feel unimportant and small by Pascal and Jolie, not wanting to be part of big studio group think and control. Presumably Universal’s Donna Langley is going to let him and Danny Boyle do things their way on “Jobs.” Rudin is also clearly not interested in having someone he cannot control to work with–ie., mega-star Jolie, who was working directly with Roth on the “Cleopatra” script, or 28-year-old Annapurna financier Megan Ellison, who didn’t return his call for three days. Whoops.
Along the way on the troubled “Jobs” movie, WME head Ari Emanuel complains to Pascal that she’s ignoring the financing he raised on the film, while veteran WME agent Robert Newman, who reps Boyle, pens an earnestly awkward pitch to Leonardo DiCaprio to stay on the movie (which Boyle himself might better have done). After Christian Bale drops out, Sony production head Michael DeLuca makes a strong pitch for Michael Fassbender. But the studio was clearly worried about his ability to carry Aaron Sorkin’s innovative screenplay, which threatens to yield a three hour movie without many exteriors. Daring indeed! One studio marketing executive pleads for Sony to take it all the way to the Oscars, risks be damned.
Thing is, these people are all human, fighting for their interests and creative control and are willing to take risks. (The studio debated possible North Korean fallout over “The Interview,” and execs still don’t know if that country is behind these malicious and continued attacks–latest speculation suggests an inside job.) This reminds us that in the digital era, conducting these sorts of negotiations via email is dangerous, as George Clooney seems to have figured out. In the one email I am reposting below, he tells Pascal that he’s delighted to be working on a Sony movie–likely recently announced Hack Attack, about the Murdoch News of the World spying scandal–knowing that his email is likely to be widely read.
I’ve been sent some amazing emails over the years–Hollywood players routinely swear like sailors, and Rudin himself let go a torrent of them when he was upset with Harvey Weinstein over “The Reader.” Ex-Paramount chief Sherry Lansing always worked by phone–she distrusted email. We should never email something that isn’t for public consumption. There is no such thing as a “private email.”
Read the emails in full at Defamer.