After Amy & Seth Provoked Bureau 121,
Hell Rained Down on Sony Studios
The catastrophic damage being wreaked upon Sony by the revelation of its most precious secrets was the result of Amy Pascal’s bad judgment in kowtowing to Seth Rogen and ignoring warnings from her bosses in Tokyo that the consequences of provoking North Korea could be disastrous.
That’s the essence of a detailed story today on Page 1 of The Times (12/15). Nine writers in five cities contributed. It is fascinating but dense, so we’ll break it down, quoting some material verbatim:
(1) In depicting the graphic assassination of Kim Jong-un, the co-director of “The Interview” and the actor Rogen were trying to push creative boundaries and Sony Hollywood allowed them to do so in part to keep them from going to a rival studio. Said one film historian: “The gory killing of a sitting foreign leader is new territory for a big studio movie.” [Liz Smith writes in today’s New York Social Diary: “What an appalling idea, no matter what kind of man or leader Kim is. Imagine if North Korea made a movie about assassinating an American president. Nobody here would think it is very funny.”]
(2) From early on, “The Interview” seemed to pit the sensibilities of filmmakers in the U.S., where the portly North Korean leader with the cherubic looks has been a target of easy humor, against those of Sony executives in Japan, where he is reviled but taken deadly seriously. Long-range North Korean rockets on test runs still fly ominously over Japan’s main islands.
(3) North Korea, an isolated and unpredictable nuclear-armed nation, branded the $40 million film, to be released Christmas Day, “an act of war” and vowed a “resolute and merciless response”. Sony Japan CEO Kanzuo Hirai broke with a 25-year tradition by intervening in the decision making of the usually autonomous L.A. studio. A leading Tokyo analyst said, “Such threats against a specific company by a sovereign state were so shocking and unusual that it is natural for the top to want to get involved.” He insisted, inter alia, that a scene in which Kim’s head explodes when hit by a tank shell be toned down to remove images of flaming hair and chunks of skull.
(4) Instead of understanding and following the wishes of her corporate superiors, Amy Pascal thought it more important to keep kissing Rogen’s ass, sending him whining emails begging him to “soften” the offensive material in the so-called “comedy”.
(5) This is a howler: At one point in the tug of war over the script, Rogen weighed in with an angry email to Pascal. The valiant artiste wrote to her: “This is now a story of Americans changing their movie to make North Koreans happy. That is a very damning story.” In response to this “persuasive” argument, Little Miss Amy sided with professional moron Rogen, instead of upholding the interests of her bosses and her shareholders.
(6) An expert said, “In Korean culture, there is a real need to protect your leader’s dignity. Kim’s subordinates were probably desperate to make some sort of gesture, in order to both prove their loyalty and to save their own skins.” (Kim, after all, had his own uncle executed in a struggle for power and is reported to maintain an extensive network of brutal gulags for those who displease him.) Suspicion has fallen on Kim’s Bureau 121, an elite cyberunit, or on patriotic hackers.
ORB SAYS: The damage to Sony, still unfolding, is a result of Pascal’s hubris and sense of invulnerability. She should have listened to her bosses, not a vulgar dimwit who forged a career in slimy movies.
Among her many mistakes, joking about Obama’s taste in movies was the least offensive. That Pascal should have then groveled to Al Sharpton for his absolution for her ethical missteps is risible. (At last report, Al is withholding his blessing from Amy while they negotiate her financial “contribution” to his tax-deadbeat operation.) Pascal’s real-life dramas are funnier than her movies. She’s a dead woman walking.
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Police-Hating Poet in Running for a Pulitzer
The Daily News has a good story today (12/15) about the part-time CUNY and Baruch teacher arrested for attacking police on the Brooklyn Bridge Saturday night.
It turns out Eric Linsker, 29, is “known more for his erotic poetry interspersed with expletives aimed at the police.” It is indeed exquisite. For Adult-Mag, he wrote:
To triple that irreversible retreat into summer
In slow motion by an intensification of the powerful
To isolate the surface adding energy to the winds
Future governments spend to protect
Fuck the police
To rise as you disappear below current
Interpretations of observations
Fuck the police.
Professor Linsker has a way with words. If you don’t get it, perhaps you are not taking the right drugs. He writes about psychedelic sex and he was carrying marijuana (along with hammers) in his backpack while he was throwing a garbage can at two police officers.
A student of his wrote on Rate My Professors: “The readings are pretty weird. I mean, if you love reading about sex in the most poetically disturbing way possible, go for it.”
The inarticulate anarchist has been charged with felony counts of assaulting a police officer and inciting a riot, as well as several misdemeanors. A judge released him without bail. NBCnews.com is reporting the existence of a video made Saturday showing Linsker’s fellow marchers chanting, “What do we want? Dead cops. When do we want it? Now.”
This police-hating poet will no doubt be honored and extolled by the New York City Council. Last week many of their members adjourned a business meeting to go out and recline in a city street (for the cameras) for what they called a “die-in”. It’s a Barnum & Bailey world.
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Barron’s: S&P to rise 10% in 2015, Euro Will Slide to $1.10
Good news to start the week. In a cover story in today’s issue of Barron’s (12/15), the Dow Jones Business and Financial Weekly says that Wall Street’s top strategists predict the market will rise 10 percent next year.
“A gain of that magnitude surely would merit applause, coming atop an 8% rally year to date, not to mention 2013’s 30% advance.” A year ago, they had predicted a 10% rally in 2014. “With just 12 trading days left in the year, the Street’s seers are not far off the mark.”
“‘In isolation, U.S. stocks are on the expensive side,’ says Jeffrey Knight, head of global asset allocation at Columbia Management. But measured against other financial assets–whether emerging-market equities or developed-market bonds–U.S. shares look strong, he adds.”
“Although stocks have tripled since the lows of 2009 [when Bush left office and Obama was sworn in], the ride has sometimes been bumpy. Consider the 7.4% rout in early fall–almost enough to qualify as a bona fide correction—or last week’s 3.5% selloff. The first downturn owed to worries about slowing global growth, while last week’s decline reflected anxiety about the sudden, sharp drop in oil prices and energy shares.”
In a separate story, Barron’s Randall W. Forsyth writes, “Next year, you can expect European stocks to return as much as 18% and Europe’s currency to slide to $1.10 from a recent $1.24. Within a few years, the euro probably will drop further, perhaps to $1.”
“But for U.S. investors, that’s a double-edged sword. European stock gains from a weaker euro get lost in translation, because they’re converted into a weaker dollar, which argues in favor of currency hedges.”
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Tina Says The Week is “Brain Sex”–Our Favorite Kind
The Week is a print magazine that collects and curates news stories from other publications. (Hmm, why didn’t Orb think of that…..).
Today’s Times (12/15) says The Week has been so successful at persuading its subscribers to give the magazine to friends and relatives that gift subscriptions have become a major driver of its total circulation. (165,000 out of 580,000).
Enthusiasts include the clever editor and writer Tina Brown, whose husband Sir Harold Evans helped introduce the mag in this country. (with, we recall, the able assistance of wizard publicist Jon Marder). Tina told The Times, “I often give The Week at Christmas because it’s sort of brain sex. It’s sort of snack-size cerebral entertainment.”
Right you are, Tina. And so is Orbmagazine. We urge you to also give Orb subscriptions to your friends. Orb is free, unlike The Week, which costs from $40 to $60.