The #SONY Leak: What We’ve Learned


I’ve spent my entire life working for the corporate monster, and most of those corporate monsters are major networks and studios in the entertainment industry. While I won’t mention them by name, trust that what I’m about to write is from an insider’s perspective.

My first job in entertainment was as an underling at a major network working for two high-level executives who each pulled rank by pitting me against the other. This involved demanding I hang up the phone on my other boss, throwing papers at me, and a call to HR to have me fired. Thankfully HR was one step ahead, and they secretly called  to apologize while simultaneously begging me not to quit. You see — the network was about to tank — and they needed their staff to stick around to sort its ducks. And while I’m grateful for the boot camp education on crazy-town, it was no match for my next gig, which involved a major movie studio that, as I said, will go unnamed.

I was a lawyer now, but my loyalty to the support staff stuck with me. Unfortunately, patterns in this industry repeat themselves, and this studio was no exception. I worked with assistants that were publicly berated and executives that would leave early while their assistants did their work. Because the company frowned on overtime for budgetary reasons, they often didn’t get paid for it. To be fair, the executives were repeatedly told that their high salaries came with the obligation of extra hours, yet they still exited. Those are just a few stories among a mountain of alarming anecdotes that I’ll save for my book.

When the news of the Sony hack set fire to every social network, I sat on it. I could not decide whether it was immoral to repeat information obtained through hacking, and many lives have been unjustly impacted. It has always been my intention with The Dishmaster to stay above the social-media smut. But the time has come to report on the news, and I’ll do it with the most integrity possible. Below is a list of what we’ve learned.


Famed Producer and notorious malcontent Scott Rudin engaged in a heated email exchange with Sony co-chief Amy Pascal over Angelina Jolie, which resulted in Rudin calling Jolie a “spoiled brat.” It all started when Pascal asked Rudin to meet with Jolie  in an attempt to circumvent her from stealing David Fincher from directing ‘Jobs’ in favor of her film, ‘Cleopatra,’ which Rudin predicted would be an embarrassment for the studio and a waste of his time. The exchange between these two executives is both hilarious and sad. First, being a fly on the wall as a big-wig blasts a bloated celebrity is a dream come true, especially given our culture of treating fame like royalty. And as an aside, Scott Rudin is a brilliant writer, and he’s right. Jolie has a mediocre resume at best, and by sheer numbers alone, she is not deserving of her all-star status. Furthermore, when a creative executive’s judgment is clouded by A-list status, it results in poor decisions. I need not recite Sony’s Box Office roster to prove that point.


Amidst the Angelina Jolie exhange, Pascal became alarmed by an article which quoted Fincher denying involvement in directing the ‘Jobs’ movie. The title of the article she forwarded Fincher along with a very classy “WTF,” read, “‘Girls’ star Adam Driver to Play ‘Star Wars’ Villain; David Fincher Eyed for Steve Jobs Movie.” In response, Fincher simply said, “Adam Driver is a terrible idea, I’m with you.” Pascal’s all-caps reply indicates she either doesn’t have a sense of humor or didn’t get the joke. Fortunately for Fincher, all of America gets the joke, and his wit is trending.


Rudin and Pascal’s personal exchange about President Obama turned racist when Pascal asked Rudin what to ask our Commander in Chief during an upcoming event they were both set to attend. Both Pascal and Rudin barbed back and forth about black films they should see if he liked. They have since apologized, but call me crazy if I’d like someone being paid millions per year to have a little class, even in their private exchange.  Yes it’s a hack and yes I don’t approve, but I’m not racist, and though my personal texts might involve some sexy selfies sans head, they certainly don’t involve racist jokes. Given that exchange, it is no surprise that the high paid executives are “male, pale, and stale,” as one blogger so eloquently put it.


As a former lemming in Hollywoodland, I know all about the in-house reviews each department asks for, and I’ve never been dumb enough to fill them out. Anonymity is a myth, and any hopes of a promotion means you have to drink the juice. Others were far braver than I, and wrote very damning disclosures about their desire for change in the corporation. Those disclosures included complaints about stale Adam Sandler movies, a lack of creativity, and a general unhappiness. My educated guess is that nothing has changed.

As previously stated, I do not condone hacking, and this post has been a struggle. But transparency sometimes facilitates change, and my hope for Sony is that they learn a thing or two from their exposed faults.



The New Yorker’s Steve Jobs Cover — Brilliant

The New Yorker got it right. Their latest cover features Steve Jobs and St. Peter, who is using an iPad to check him into to heaven’s gate. There is outrage about the cover, which has been labeled disrespectful because Jobs was Buddhist. The naysayers are missing the point. It doesn’t matter what your God is — it matters that whoever or whatever he is, he’s using an iPad. If Jobs were alive, I imagine he’d like it. If someone made a complimentary Jesus-Christ-related joke about me, I’d be fine with it — even though I’m Jewish. Funny is funny.

Steve Jobs Died — Goodbye, Maestro

I didn’t know Steve Jobs personally, but it sure felt like I did. In elementary school my teacher asked us to predict how the world would look in the year 2000. Most of us pictured ‘The Jetsons’ and thought we’d have flying cars. That year just seemed so far away at the time. As it turns out, we were drastically far off the mark. No one really executed those noteworthy technological advances we dreamed of as kids. That is — except for Steve Jobs. He had a vision — and he had more to do. But he sure did a lot with the time he had. In honor of the man I will miss as if he were a personal friend, I am re-posting his inspirational commencement speech below.

Quote of the Day — Steve Jobs the Taskmaster

In the Summer of 2008, Apple launched MobileMe on its third generation iPhone, which was meant to compete with Blackberry’s coveted email system. Despite the iPhone’s positive reviews, MobileMe was a failure with critics. So Steve Jobs, never one to take failure lying down, gathered his MobileMe team for an emergency town hall meeting. Then he asked, “can someone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?” After getting an answer, he replied, “then why the fuck doesn’t it do that?”

Steve Jobs Resigns — Listen to his 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech

I never went to one of those fancy-schmancy schools with an A-list commencement speaker. Instead, I got agenda-driven hacks that used my school’s graduating class to proselytize their partisan ideas. But thanks to YouTube, I can just close my eyes, pretend I went to Stanford, and let Steve Jobs’ words of wisdom wash over me. His speech was sent my way because of his recent resignation, and I’m embarrassed to admit that I cried while listening. Perhaps I’m hormonal? Seriously though — it’s incredible. I’d encourage you to listen to it and then quit your dead-end job in favor of a more fulfilling dream. Oh that’s right — the economy has tanked and we no longer get those dream-driven choices. Enough of my jaded jargon — allow Mr. Jobs to eliminate your pessimism. And judging from the angry undertones in this post — I need to watch it again.