Rogen, who is known for being outspoken, had to know Pascal was behind efforts to orphan the film, which is comedy about assassinating North Korean leader Kim Jung Un.
But he put on a game face and praised her at the Los Angeles premiere. “Before we start we just want to thank Amy Pascal for having the balls to make this movie!” he told a cheering crowd.
The details of Sony’s efforts to erase its name from the project are contained in the latest batch of emails that have been leaked by a shadowy group that calls itself “Guardians of Justice.”
North Korea couldn't stop us!!! Here's the newest trailer for The Interview!!! https://t.co/EAICoJJiFi
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) November 25, 2014
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) October 31, 2014
There's been a lot of speculation as to Kim Jong Un's whereabouts. He's okay. Just hanging with his new best friend: pic.twitter.com/vu13bNWiQD
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) October 10, 2014
The group is suspected of having ties to Kim, who Kim certainly didn’t find the film funny. His rep called the picture an act of “terrorism” and a “prelude to war.”
When Pascal found out about Kim’s reaction from a June story in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, she went into panic mode to erase Sony’s footprint from the film.
Pascal emailed Sony Pictures Vice Chairman Jeff Blake with a copy of the story and wrote: “we need sonys name off this asap everywhere.”
That sent the company into unprecedented spin mode.
Pascal asked Blake to erase Sony’s name and logo from promotional materials and re-brand the film as a Columbia Pictures project, according to a report in The Daily Beast.
The panic apparently spread throughout the Sony executive suite. Sony President Michael Lynton also fired off an email urging Pascal to rein in Rogen, who was posting humorous Tweets about the film and Kim’s reaction.
“better if seth does not do any tweeting for awhile until we sort this out,” he wrote. There was no word on whether Rogen curbed his behavior.
Within days, the head of Sony’s legal team, Douglas Blakey, wrote an email laying out the company’s strategy to scrub Sony’s name from picture.
“Per our conversation today, please let this confirm for our records that Columbia is electing to not accord any On-Screen or Billing Block credits to SONY in connection with the Film ‘The Interview.’
For reference, this encompasses: 1) omitting references to “A Sony Company” from the Animated and Static Logos; 2) using a “non-hybrid” Animated Logo that doesn’t include SONY; 3) omitting the “Sony”, “Be Moved”, and “Sony Greener World” Cards from the End Crawl, and: 4) replacing the reference to “Sony…” with “Columbia Pictures…” in our End Crawl “Tobacco Disclaimer” Language. Additionally, we’ve been informed that we should remove the SDDS “Bug” from our End Crawl and Billing Blocks for this Film.”
Sony also slapped further curbs on Rogen and co-star Randall Park, who plays the fearless leader, by feeding them specially tailored responses to potential questions like, “Is this film racist?” and “The situation in North Korea is deadly serious. Why make a comedy about that?” to “Is this film racist?”
Sony executives were also handed talking points to make clear that “this is a Columbia Pictures release and our parent company has little to no involvement in the creative direction taken,” according to an email.
Other emails, however, show that Sony and Pascal, personally, were involved in the making of the film that even included suggested edits to the film’s ending.
While Seth drew a hearty crowd reaction and no doubt Pascal’s eternal gratitude for pumping her up, he had to be secretly biting his tongue.
To its credit, Sony is moving ahead with the film’s release.
After all, it’s on the hook for $50 million in production costs that includes $8.4 million in salary for Rogen, plus expenses, (he also directed) and $6.5 million for co-star Franco, according to leaked documents published by Bloomberg.
Watch Rogen talk up Pascal in the clip below, let us know your thoughts and be sure to follow IM on Twitter in the event war breaks out between the U.S. and North Korea.