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Sony's Pascal defends pay gap when women don't ask for more

Friday, February 13, 2015 - 11:48
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Departing Sony Pictures Entertainment co-Chairman Amy Pascal defended the film studio's practice, exposed in hacked e-mails, of paying female stars like Jennifer Lawrence less than their male counterparts.

[SAN FRANCISCO] Departing Sony Pictures Entertainment co-Chairman Amy Pascal defended the film studio's practice, exposed in hacked e-mails, of paying female stars like Jennifer Lawrence less than their male counterparts.

"I run a business. People want to work for less money, I'll pay them less money. I don't call them up and go, can I give you some more?" Pascal said at the Women In The World event last night in San Francisco, where she was interviewed onstage by Tina Brown. Women shouldn't work for less money, she said.

"They have to walk away. People shouldn't be so grateful for jobs." Lawrence and Amy Adams were paid significantly lower fees than the male co-stars of American Hustle, Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale and Jeremy Renner.

The gap was made public by hackers who stole thousands of e-mails, spreadsheets and other internal documents in a cyber-attack on Sony Corp's film studio last year. Female film executives at Sony also made less money than men.

The episode led to calls for equal pay in Hollywood. Charlize Theron used it to negotiate a salary equal to that of her male co-star, Chris Hemsworth, for the 2016 Universal Pictures film The Huntsman, The New York Post reported in January.

American Hustle, an Academy Award-nominated film, was released in 2013. Lawrence, also the star of the Hunger Games series, was named the highest-grossing actress of 2014 by Forbes magazine. That stat is based on box-office receipts.

"I've made her a lot more money since then," Pascal said.

LIVELY INBOX

The gender-pay flap was just one controversy to come out of the hacking of Sony Pictures. Pascal's lively e-mail inbox produced a trove of exchanges that revealed behind-the-scenes backbiting and verbal warfare at the studio.

Among those attacked was Angelina Jolie, one of Hollywood's biggest stars, who was called a "spoiled brat" by producer Scott Rudin in a running feud with Pascal over which movies the studio would make.

Jolie's project, a biopic of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Cleopatra, is still moving forward, said Pascal.

"The first person I talked to was Angie after that e- mail," Pascal said.

"Everybody understood because we all live in this weird thing called Hollywood. If we all actually were nice it wouldn't work."

Sony is replacing Pascal - she said at the event she was fired - and she will move to a new role in May, with a production deal on the Sony lot.

Her portfolio includes the Spider-Man movies, the studio's biggest franchise. Brown suggested that her reported pay package of US$30 million to US$40 million over four years was "quite a haul." "Thank you," Pascal said.

BLOOMBERG