President Obama, North Korea, the White House, the FBI, and a host of despairing executives have said their piece about the colossal Sony hack of 2014. But what about the actual Hollywood stars whose correspondence was leaked in the hack? We emailed them at their personal email addresses and asked. All at once.
In late December, realizing that the only actors who'd spoken out about the Sony hack were George Clooney and Jonah Hill, we decided to seek comment on the major news story from the galaxy of stars who had so far remained silent. Generally, Gawker and Defamer don't have much success asking for quotes from publicists, but in this case, it didn't matter: Among the bits of previously tightly guarded information in the hack are the personal and professional email addresses of dozens of major Hollywood power players—moguls, agents, executives, and, yes, actual celebrities.
On December 22nd, I sent a mass email to 22 A-listers simultaneously, asking them for comment on the Sony leak that exposed their professional correspondences. Inspired by the Natalie Portman-Ryan Seacrest-Gaza Strip email chain debacle, it was my hope that a group email would encourage the celebrities to engage in debate, discussion, and reply-all collaboration with their peers. If you were an A-list celebrity, here is the email you would have received in your inbox that Monday:
From: Sam Biddle <email@example.com>
To: Will Smith <HipHopVet@[REDACTED]>, Leonardo DiCaprio <LLDog11@[REDACTED]>, Channing Tatum <PoeticalMotion@[REDACTED]>, Chris Pratt <MonkeyBoyPratt@[REDACTED]>, George Clooney <BatmanSr@[REDACTED]>, Adam Sandler <Dooskie@[REDACTED]>, Jennifer Lawrence <peanbutt111@[REDACTED]>, Jonah Hill <75yearplan@[REDACTED]>, Tom Hanks <ADiamond@[REDACTED]>, Denzel Washington <spunkyritap@[REDACTED]>, Matt Damon <GerryWoo@[REDACTED]>, Emma Stone <yesicanseenow@[REDACTED]>, Mark Ruffalo <marcruff221@[REDACTED]>, Tom Hardy <tom@[REDACTED]>, Andrew Garfield <jonathandjokovic@[REDACTED]>, Amy Adams <nu42amylou@[REDACTED]>, Tom Cruise <tbcs@[REDACTED]>, Cameron Diaz <cdllh69@[REDACTED]>, Hugh Jackman <hughj@[REDACTED]>, Brad Pitt <pitthouse@[REDACTED]>, Angelina Jolie <1365@[REDACTED]>, Kevin Hart <k.hart79@[REDACTED]>
Subject: Quick question from Gawker
Sam Biddle from Gawker here, wondering if you have any comment on the Sony hacking story. best, sam
Oddly enough, I received no response, except for bounce-back replies from the accounts of Jonah Hill, Jennifer Lawrence, George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, whose accounts were deleted by that point. (An auto-reply from Brad Pitt told me that "I am no longer checking emails at this address, contact our office for more current information." It was fun to read that email in a Brad Pitt voice, but not illuminating.)
After a week of silence (it was the holidays), I followed up:
Just wanted to follow up on my last email. Have any of you seen The Interview? Any thoughts on the release?
Silence. I checked in one last time on January 2, to no avail:
Hello and happy new year—
I just wanted to check in regarding my previous emails, one last time. I have a deadline of 12 PM eastern time today, if any of you have any comment regarding the Sony hack and/or release of The Interview.
Sadly, no response. Not even in my spam folder. At this point it's hard not to wonder if one of my new pen pals—Channing Tatum, maybe—has replied all and accidentally removed me from the list. Am I missing a scintillating conversation about free speech and privacy? Or, worse, is this power posse now gossiping about me behind my back? Mark, Chris, Adam: please don't mute me. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.