Who's Amy Pascal? Who's Scott Rudin? Why are they fighting over Angelina Jolie and David Fincher? Your cheat sheet for the powerful Hollywood moguls and creatives at the heart of the dramatic Sony hack.
Title: Chairman, Motion Pictures Group, Sony Pictures Entertainment
Pascal, the leading lady of Sony's cyber embarrassments, has been at the company since the late 80s, working on giant projects from A League of Their Own to Zero Dark Thirty.
Forbes named Pascal the 28th most powerful woman in the world, and it's tough to disagree—her leaked emails reveal just how much influence she wields with not just Hollywood producers, actors, and directors, but also with journalists, authors, and other elites.
Pascal's need to satisfy dozens of the world's largest egos is a central theme in the saga of her relationship with producer Scott Rudin, with whom she worked on many of SPE's biggest movies—including Captain Phillips, The Social Network, and Girl With the Dragon Tattoo—before the breakdown of their relationship in 2014 over the aborted Steve Jobs movie.
Pascal writes most of her email on her phone, with poetic line breaks and liberal use of capital letters.
Title: Founder, Scott Rudin Productions
One of the only people in history to ever clinch an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony, super-producer Scott Rudin is known for both his tremendous success in showbiz, and for being a giant raving prick (he was named one of New York's Worst Bosses by this very website in 2007). The two probably go together: he's been making big movies since the 90s, and his emails show how he considers his opinion on future projects a matter of authority.
Rudin features in the emails of the Sony hack because of his three-year first-look deal with SPE, a contract that, until it ended this year, gave the studio a first crack at all Rudin productions. Rudin's success—on movies like The Social Network and Moneyball—made him important to Pascal and to Sony, which meant that Pascal put up with an enormous amount of Rudin's almost charming rudeness while trying to get the disastrous Steve Jobs movie together.
Rudin's emails are characterized by a huge amount of hilarious back-channel shit-talking (hilarious, except for the time he said dumb racist bullshit about Obama over email).
Title: Executive Vice President, Communications, Sony Pictures Entertainment
Sipkins, a crisis PR specialist and for Yahoo! communications chief, spent only a year at SPE: He was quickly and quietly fired in November, shortly after Amy Pascal's husband told Pascal to can him for not getting her a spot at an executive roundtable discussion. The Sony emails show Sipkins' particular talents for killing and modifying stories in The New York Times.
Pascal's husband Weinraub quit his job at the New York Times nine years ago to pursue a career as a playwright. A close adviser to his wife—and her bridge to major press figures like Maureen Dowd and Nikki Finke—Weinraub can be seen in leaked emails tangling himself in Pascal's work.
Among the most higly acclaimed, best-known, and commercially viable directors currently working, Fincher has had a long and fruitful relationship with Sony and Rudin, with whom made Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Social Network. The latter film in particular was a sort of benchmark for the Jobs flick, proof that audiences and critics would enjoy a dialogue-heavy movie about geeks. If anyone could pull off Jobs, reasoned Sony, it was Fincher, especially since he and Aaron Sorkin, the screenplay author, had proven such perfect collaborators on the Facebook movie.
Of course, Rudin wasn't the only person with his eye on Fincher—Jolie wanted the director for her Cleopatra passion project as well, and appears to have gone to him directly to talk about it.
Sorkin, according to the hacked emails "broke" and possibly sleeping with the subject of a book he's desperate to adapt, spent three years writing an adaptation of Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs. Despite the wait, his script was still the best thing Sony had going for it in 2015, but Pascal and Rudin's inability to come to terms on a budget, director, or star for the movie meant it went away.
Still, at least up until the hack, Sorkin and Pascal were discussing the possibility of other scripts: Flash Boys, which Sony wanted but Sorkin didn't (he didn't think there was an Asian actor for the lead), and Molly's Game, which Sorkin loved and Sony hated—and which Pascal implies Sorkin wants to adapt because he's "sleeping with" its author.
Title: Lara Croft
Angelina Jolie—mega-celebrity, sometime director, and recently finally bankable star—is a central figure in the saga of Pascal and Rudin's burnt bridge. Jolie, with whom Pascal appears to have shared a vision of a character-focused, feminist historical epic in Cleopatra, wanted David Fincher to direct—which would have make Fincher unavailable for Jobs, and sent that project into complete disarray. While Jolie is among the most famous people on the planet, only recently has she demonstrated box office clout with Maleficent.
Danny Boyle, who made Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire, was Rudin and Pascal's second choice to direct Jobs after Fincher turned them down—just as Michael Fassbender was the second (or even third!) star when they couldn't land Leo. As far as we know, he's still set to direct the movie, just not at Sony, which couldn't put the money together to make the film at the studio.
Title: Chairman, TriStar production
The venerable studio executive, lately chair of Sony subsidiary TriStar, appears frequently in the hacked emails. When a New York Times article suggests he didn't have his hand in as many projects as he thinks he did, Rothman calls on Charles Sipkin to change the wording. He does.