Sony studio chiefs aim to reassure employees after damaging hack

By Dana Feldman
Michael Lynton, CEO Sony Entertainment and CEO and chairman Sony Pictures Entertainment, speaks during an investors' conference at the company's headquarters in Tokyo November 18, 2014. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

By Dana Feldman LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Executives at Sony Corp's Hollywood movie studio sought to reassure employees on Monday that the studio would recover from a massive cyber attack that exposed internal emails and sensitive employee data. Michael Lynton, CEO and Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Co-Chairman Amy Pascal addressed staff at two separate meetings in a packed sound stage on the company's lot in Culver City, California, according to an employee who attended one of the sessions. Lynton told employees they should not worry about the studio's future, a Sony spokeswoman said. He also praised staff for their work to keep productions running after the attack, the spokeswoman said. Both Lynton and Pascal received applause, said the employee at one of the meetings. Unidentified hackers attacked Sony's computer network last month and have released internal documents they claim were stolen from the company. Disclosures from the documents have caused turmoil at the studio, a unit of Japan's Sony Corp, and shed light on internal discussions key to the company's future. For instance, the documents include employee salaries and financial information, marketing plans and contracts with business partners. In addition, the documents included an exchange in which Pascal joked about President Obama's race. After media outlets reported that information, Pascal issued a public apology for "insensitive and inappropriate" emails. Reuters has not been able to verify the authenticity of the documents. At one of Monday's meetings with staff, Pascal was "near tears" and apologized again for her comments, according to the employee in attendance. Staff members applauded and offered her support, and a few hugged her, the employee said. Pascal is scheduled to meet this week with civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton, whose spokeswoman says he is weighing whether to call for her resignation. Pascal did not respond to a request for comment on Monday. A Sony spokeswoman had no comment. Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry, two prominent African-American figures in the entertainment industry, defended Pascal on Sunday at the premiere for the civil rights film "Selma." "I would hope that we would not stand in such harsh judgment in a moment of time when someone is hacked in their private conversations," Winfrey told CNN. "We all make stupid mistakes ... I don't believe she's a racist," Perry also told the network. (Additional reporting by Lisa Richwine and Eric Kelsey; Editing by Bernard Orr)