Hacking Of Sony's Computers Creates Much Drama

Dec 17, 2014
Originally published on December 17, 2014 2:32 pm
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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The movie "The Interview" was due to have its New York premiere tomorrow night. That's the goofy bromance starring Seth Rogen and James Franco now in the news. The two stars play bumbling tabloid journalists who manage to land an interview with North Korea's dictator, Kim Jung Un, which catches the attention of the CIA.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE INTERVIEW")

JAMES FRANCO: (As Dave) We got the interview.

LIZZY CAPLAN: (As Agent Lacey) The CIA would love it if you could take him out.

FRANCO: (As Dave) Hmm?

CAPLAN: (As Agent Lacey) Take him out.

SETH ROGEN: (As Aaron) Like for drinks?

FRANCO: (As Dave) Like to dinner?

ROGEN: (As Aaron) Take him out on the town?

CAPLAN: (As Agent Lacey) No, take him out.

ROGEN: (As Aaron) You want us to kill the leader of North Korea?

CAPLAN: (As Agent Lacey) Yes.

FRANCO: (As Dave) What?

MONTAGNE: That comedy, which is also directed by Seth Rogen, is the target of hackers who broke into the computers of Sony Pictures Entertainment and stole an almost unimaginable amount of data - executive salaries, embarrassing email exchanges, employee Social Security numbers, even complete unreleased movies. Now the New York premier has been called off. For the latest in this drama about a comedy, we're joined by NPR's Mandalit del Barco. Good morning.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: First, what happened with that premier?

DEL BARCO: Well, yesterday some news outlets received a rambling, threatening email claiming to be from the hackers. It was quite menacing and alluded to a 9/11-style attack if "The Interview" was shown in theaters. They warned moviegoers to keep away and they wrote, if your house is nearby, you'd better leave. And they also wrote this rather cryptic and ungrammatical threat, I quote, "how bitter fate those who seek fun and terror should be doomed to."

Now, Renee, the Department of Homeland Security responded saying the threat was not credible. But still, Landmark's Sunshine Cinema in Manhattan canceled the event altogether. One person close to Sony told us if other movie theaters choose not to screen the movie when it opens to the rest of the country on Christmas, the studio would support any decisions that were made on their end.

MONTAGNE: So it's possible the movie won't be shown in some theaters. At the same time, the two stars of the movie, they also seem to have gone quiet. What happened with them?

DEL BARCO: Well, that's right. Seth Rogen's publicist told me he canceled a promo appearance on "The Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon that was supposed to happen tonight. But earlier in the week, Rogen was on TV's "Good Morning America" talking about the movie he starred in and directed.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "GOOD MORNING AMERICA")

ROGEN: Yeah, I mean, I wonder what a North Korean citizen would think of the movie. I mean, in the movie, we go through great lengths to separate the regime that rules North Korea with the North Korean people themselves. And part of me thinks that they, themselves, would really enjoy the movie. But who knows?

DEL BARCO: Well, as the hackers continue to leak sensitive corporate information, Sony remains very tightlipped.

MONTAGNE: And, Mandalit, two lawsuits were filed this week. Tell us about that.

DEL BARCO: Right, Renee. There were two class-action lawsuits filed on behalf of current and former Sony employees. Both suits allege that the company did not do enough to protect data that was leaked. Sony did offer its employees identity theft protection for one year. But the federal lawsuit claims that's just not enough. I talked to the attorney Cari Laufenberg who said there are potentially thousands of employees, past and present, whose leaked information may now be in the hands of criminals.

CARI LAUFENBERG: I certainly have heard from many, many other Sony employees and former employees who have had already red flags on their credit monitoring, who've found their Social Security numbers out on the black market, their kids' Social Security numbers out on the black market. I mean, it's just horrendous.

DEL BARCO: Of course, there's been a lot of talk about the catty leaked emails between top studio executives. And it's so crazy that there are even jokes that the behind-the-scenes drama at Sony should be optioned and turned into a movie itself.

MONTAGNE: NPR arts correspondent Mandalit del Barco. Thanks very much.

DEL BARCO: You're welcome, Renee. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.