Skip Gates discussed far more than Ben Affleck’s slave-owning ancestors in emails to Sony Pictures Entertainment executives.
Gates also pitched a remake of St. Elmo’s Fire with an all-black cast, mentioned $500,000 in funding for a Stokely Carmichael biopic and inquired about membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. (As one Sony exec told another, “Absolutely no chance” of that.)
And Gates wasn’t the only public broadcaster corresponding with top Sony managers.
The trove of 173,132 emails from 2013-14 posted publicly April 17 by WikiLeaks contains a revelation of a station “hit hard” by a credit-card breach, a peek inside the NPR CEO search, advice on updating a star host’s contract, program pitches and hints at possible future projects.
The emails reveal that Michael Lynton, c.e.o. of Sony Pictures Entertainment, supports Southern California Public Radio. In an April 2014 email, Lynne Slattery, major giving manager at the Pasadena station, asked Lynton’s assistant, David Diamond, for a credit card number to process Lynton’s annual $10,000 contribution.
Slattery then hinted at the financial impact on the station of the 2013 consumer data hack of the retail giant Target, which exposed some 40 million credit-card numbers. Many pubcasting stations took a hit due to their growing reliance on the contributions of sustainers whose monthly gifts are withdrawn automatically from credit cards — many of which had to be canceled and reissued due to the breach.
Slattery writes to Diamond, “We could really use [Michael’s] help right now . . . KPCC got hit quite hard by the Target/Neiman Marcus credit card security breach and hundreds of thousands of dollars in committed revenue hasn’t been realized because of it. It’s quite serious and I imagine lots of non-profits are struggling with making up for the revenue right now. Michael’s renewal will help close the gap.”
- Slattery also had suggestions for Lynton about public media internships. (The “rights to the StoryCorps project” she refers to there? That’s for the life story of Wil Smith, David Isay told Current.) Jennifer Ferro at KCRW in Santa Monica was also consulted for internship suggestions.
- Andrew Duncan of Kindred Partners, the executive search firm looking for a CEO for NPR, sought candidate advice.
- WBEZ Board Chair Steve Baird needed assistance with Ira Glass’s contract for This American Life at the Chicago station. “We have been operating on a one page agreement for 20 years now,” Baird wrote, “We need some help in developing a new arrangement with Ira going forward.”
- Isay of StoryCorps told Lynton he’d “love to get you involved in our efforts,” perhaps by “introducing StoryCorps to people in Hollywood.”
- And filmmaker Ric Burns wants to do a documentary on the history of Los Angeles — which prompts Lynton to reply, “I think it would be fantastic. . . . [P]erhaps we can talk about a way forward on the phone.”
WikiLeaks’ Sony database is easily searchable, for both the emails as well as 30,287 documents. Give it a try and hunt for your public media organization or names of public broadcasters. If you find anything interesting, let us know.