Sony CEO ordered 'The Interview' toned down, Rogen objected: emails

Wed Dec 10, 2014 8:08pm EST
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By Jim Finkle and James Pearson

NEW YORK/SEOUL (Reuters) - Sony Corp. Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai ordered the film "The Interview" to be toned down after Pyongyang denounced it for depicting the assassination of North Korea's leader, according to emails apparently stolen from Sony's Hollywood studio.

The comedy, slated for U.S. release on Dec. 25, is about journalists played by Seth Rogen and James Franco who are hired by the CIA to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

According to emails that span from August through October and were obtained by Reuters, Hirai asked Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, to change a key shot in the film. It depicts Kim struck by a tank shell, causing his head to explode.

Pascal noted to Hirai that she had encountered resistance from the film's creators, including Rogen, who wrote and co-directed it.

Hirai's interest in the film shows the company's leadership was worried about Pyongyang's objections, even before a devastating cyber attack on Sony's Hollywood studio network last month that crippled most of it for more than a week.

A Sony Corp. official told Reuters that Hirai rarely reviews specific scenes in films.

North Korea complained to the United Nations in July, accusing the United States of sponsoring terrorism and committing an act of war by allowing production of the movie.

In an exchange with Rogen, Pascal said she was in a difficult position because Hirai had asked her to make changes in the film.   Continued...

Director, writer and cast member Seth Rogen waves at the premiere of "This Is the End" at the Regency Village Theatre in Los Angeles, California June 3, 2013. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni