Sony hires ‘Scandal’ inspiration for PR help
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Reality meets fiction re-meets reality: One of the consultants helping Sony Pictures recover from a cyberattack is Judy Smith, the woman described as the inspiration for the hit ABC series “Scandal.”
Smith’s web site calls her “America’s number one crisis management expert” and news stories often call her “the real-life Olivia Pope,” the character played by Kerry Washington on “Scandal.”
Smith is advising Sony Pictures film chief Amy Pascal, who has been widely criticized in the weeks since the attack.
Some Sony employees have blamed Pascal and studio CEO Michael Lynton for failing to secure the company’s computer systems before the hacking and for insufficient communication with the rank-and-file afterward.
The hackers exposed an extensive trove of stolen information like Social Security numbers, leaving tens of thousands of employees and contractors at risk for identity theft.
U.S. officials say that North Korea was behind the late November hack attack.
The North Korean regime has denied this, but has repeatedly expressed outrage about the Sony movie “The Interview,” which featured a plot line about the assassination of Kim Jong Un.
Last week, an online threat by the hackers resulted in the cancellation of the movie’s Christmas Day theatrical release.
Earlier in December, Pascal and Lynton’s private emails were pilfered by the hackers and published online, revealing — among many other things — racially insensitive comments between Pascal and powerful Hollywood producer Scott Rudin.
Pascal and Rudin went back and forth speculating about what movies President Obama might like, listing films with African American themes and actors like Kevin Hart.
Pascal subsequently apologized and, last Thursday, met with the National Action Network president Al Sharpton.
Pascal has not said anything publicly in the past few days. But Lynton has, in an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, and Sony has issued a series of public statements defending itself and describing its new efforts to get “The Interview” distributed.
Smith joins at least two other external public relations firms that are supplementing Sony’s internal P.R. executives. Rubenstein and Hiltzik Strategies have been fielding reporter calls and providing counsel to the studio in recent weeks.