The hacking of Sony’s computer network has resulted in today’s posting by Gawker‘s Sam Biddle of several contentious, impassioned, sharply worded emails, principally between producer Scott Rudin and Sony production chief Amy Pascal, over the fate of Rudin and Aaron Sorkin‘s Steve Jobs project, which Sony lost when Rudin pulled the plug and which is now sitting at Universal.
It makes for fascinating, at times delicious reading. The emails certainly convey a few lively portions of a tale about how and why Jobs fell apart at Sony.
The blustery, vitriolic language in some of these messages is classic Hollywood hardball stuff. The personal insults are hilarious. I can only marvel at the reaction of Angelina Jolie and for that matter Brad Pitt when they read she’s been regarded by a certain party as “a camp event and a celebrity and that’s all…a minimally talented spoiled brat,” and what Annapurna’s Megan Ellison will think when she reads that she’s been described as a “bipolar 28 year old lunatic” whose liking of this or that Hollywood player may or may not depend on whether “she took her meds.”
There’s one email, however, that’s worth pondering in detail. It’s about the quality of the Sorkin’s Jobs script, and it gave me the chills. It was written last August by Sony marketing chief Michael Pavlic, and sent to Pascal. One comment that got my attention is Pavlic’s concern that the somewhat claustrophobic-feeling piece might be a difficult sell if it goes on for three hours. But his descriptions of the script are fascinating. Three hours of intense backstage talk…love it!
Here’s Pavlic’s view of the Jobs script as posted by Gawker:
“It’s brilliant. It’s perfect.
“I will say it was a constant battle for me between movie lover and my actual job of marketer…but it’s truly masterful.
“Let’s take the obvious off the table here — there are marketing liabilities to this script. It’s long, it’s claustrophobic, it’s talky, it could be a play, it risks being all one medium close up, it’s period-y.
“Doesn’t matter. We release this over Christmas and let the awards buzz and word-of-mouth buoy it to where it needs to go.
“While there are a bunch of reasons to try to revise it with some daytime exteriors, some establishing shots etc, it would topple the elegant house-of-cards-ness of it [although] I may argue the other way for marketing purposes when trying to put stock shots in TV spots, etc. but I get it and I love it.
“It’s a mediation on Jobs himself. It’s one of his early computers — closed end to end. It’s insistent upon itself, it’s relentless. I kept begging for someone to walk outside, for some daylight, for an opening. But Sorkin is so brilliant with the structure.
“Of course, at the film’s end he gives you that break into the parking lot. A convenient door to a different world. Just when Jobs lets up, the script finally breathes for the first time. It’s really spectacular. All obvious stuff but I’m a sucker for layered, thoughtful filmmaking.
“Sure, it’s got marketing issues but I think it also has the panacea for those. I believe it will be brilliant. I do think the one thing that can hinder that [brilliance] is if it’s too long. I think people will endure anything for quality but if it’s three hours we’ll lose out. But that’s all way down the road.
“It has to be able to be realized at a decent number right? Still DiCaprio and Danny Boyle? That’s the other thing — this can’t be without a star playing Jobs and can’t be done by just anyone. Obviously. The script is a perfect 10 but in the wrong hands it grosses mid 30s.
“But it sounds like it’s going with the full package and while tricky — people deserve this kind of movie and in some weird way we have a responsibility to take these kinds of risks. Not to make it seem like we’re saving lives, but I actually think that. This is the kind of film that makes me thankful for movies and they’re few and far between these days.
“Thank you for sharing. It’s really the kind of thing that gets in you and stays with you for days. It’s exciting.