George Clooney and his agent attempted to send a firm message to the hackers threatening to attack cinemas screening The Interview but executives refused to sign their ‘Hollywood won’t be bullied’ petition.
Clooney and Bryan Lourd circulated the missive to the most powerful people in Tinseltown after Sony executives became the target of tech terrorists, who demanded they scrap media screenings, premieres and the Christmas Day opening of Seth Rogen’s new comedy, in which he and pal James Franco play hapless journalists assigned to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
But the Hollywood players were too worried about becoming targets themselves and refused to sign the petition of support.
Talking about the plan exclusively with Deadline.com, Clooney says,
“It was sent to basically the heads of every place. They told Bryan Lourd, ‘I can’t sign this’. What? How can you not sign this? I’m not going to name anyone, that’s not what I’m here to do, but nobody signed the letter, which I’ll read to you right now.
“On November 24 of this year, Sony Pictures was notified that it was the victim of a cyber attack, the effects of which is the most chilling and devastating of any cyber attack in the history of our country. Personal information including Social Security numbers, email addresses, home addresses, phone numbers and the full texts of emails of tens of thousands of Sony employees was leaked online in an effort to scare and terrorise these workers.
“The hackers have made both demands and threats. They demand that Sony halt the release of its upcoming comedy The Interview, a satirical film about North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. Their threats vary from personal – you better behave wisely – to threatening physical harm – not only you but your family is in danger.
“North Korea has not claimed credit for the attack but has praised the act, calling it a righteous deed and promising merciless measures if the film is released. Meanwhile the hackers insist in their statement that what they’ve done so far is only a small part of our further plan. This is not just an attack on Sony. It involves every studio, every network, every business and every individual in this country. That is why we fully support Sony’s decision not to submit to these hackers’ demands.
“We know that to give in to these criminals now will open the door for any group that would threaten freedom of expression, privacy and personal liberty. We hope these hackers are brought to justice but until they are, we will not stand in fear. We will stand together.”
Clooney adds, “All that it is basically saying is, we’re not going to give in to a ransom. As we watched one group be completely vilified, nobody stood up. Nobody took that stand. Now, I say this is a situation we are going to have to come to terms with, a new paradigm and a new way of handling our business. Because this could happen to an electric company, a car company, a newsroom. It could happen to anybody.
“Having put together telethons, where you have to get all the networks on board to do the telethon at the same time, the truth is once you get one or two, then everybody gets on board. It is a natural progression. So here, you get the first couple of people to sign it and… Well, nobody wanted to be the first to sign on.
“Understand what is going on right now, because the world just changed on your watch, and you weren’t even paying attention.”
Sony executives agreed to pull The Interview from its Christmas Day release after bosses at a series of top cinema chains revealed they would not screen the comedy.