LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Sony Pictures Entertainment Co-Chairman Amy Pascal apologised on Thursday for “insensitive” jokes she made about President Barack Obama in emails that were stolen by hackers who recently attacked the studio’s computer network.
The emails were exchanged between Pascal and film producer Scott Rudin, according to a report on the BuzzFeed website. Ahead of a breakfast event with the president, the pair joked about the type of movies Obama might like, mentioning films with African-American themes or stars.
“Should I ask him if he liked Django?” Pascal wrote, referring to slave revenge tale “Django Unchained.” She later suggests “The Butler” or “Think Like a Man,” the report said.
Reuters could not verify the accuracy of the emails.
In a statement on Thursday, Pascal acknowledged the existence of the emails but did not confirm any details.
“The content of my emails to Scott were insensitive and inappropriate but are not an accurate reflection of who I am,” Pascal said in a statement.
“Although this was a private communication that was stolen, I accept full responsibility for what I wrote and apologize to everyone who was offended,” she said.
Civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton, who has recently spoken out against police brutality in dealing with black people, said Pascal’s apology was “not enough” and her comments “reflect a continued lack of diversity in positions of power in Hollywood.”
“These emails nominate Amy Pascal to be considered by some of us in the same light” as former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, Sharpton said in a statement.
Sony must take steps “to respect the African American community and reflect that respect in their hiring and business practices,” Sharpton said.
Pascal, in an interview published on the Deadline Hollywood website, said she had contacted Sharpton about the comments. “I know I screwed up,” she said. “So I called him and we spoke. And we are going to try and use this as an opportunity to make things better.”
“I realize I’m just going to have to move forward,” she added, noting that she had work to do for this month’s releases of the films “Annie” and “The Interview.” “I have a company to run.”
Rudin also apologized on Thursday, saying the emails were “written in haste” and “meant to be in jest.”
“To anybody I’ve offended, I’m profoundly and deeply sorry, and I regret and apologize for any injury they might have caused,” he said in a statement.
Sony Pictures, a unit of Japan’s Sony Corp (6758.T), was the target of a massive cyber attack that became public on Nov. 24 by unidentified hackers who released a trove of internal company data and emails. Sony has acknowledged that a large amount of data was stolen but has declined to confirm specific documents.
Reporting by Lisa Richwine and Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Ken Wills