Sony Hack: The wage gap revealed
Fallout from the Sony Hack continues, and it’s no surprise that the news is bad. The people at Sony would probably love it if just once a released cache of data revealed email exchanges about funniest cat videos. But Sony doesn’t have that kind of luck and so the news continues to be damaging. This time, it’s confirmation of gender bias throughout Sony’s ranks.
Involved in this exchange are: Andrew Gumpert, President of Business Affairs & Administration at Columbia Pictures, Sony’s subsidiary who produced American Hustle; Doug Belgrad, head of Sony’s motion picture group; and Amy Pascal, co-chief of the studio. The emails regard a concern over compensation disparities brought to Gumpert by Steve Warren and Gretchen Bruggeman Rush, Jennifer Lawrence’s lawyers. Their client, they point out, received less back-end points—2% less—than her male costars, Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, and Jeremy Renner, who each earned 9 points off the back-end, but Amy Adams and Lawrence only got 7.
Pascal acknowledges that there’s a problem with the disparity, “there is truth here”, and yet it doesn’t seem any adjustments were made. Gumpert says he thinks Hustle co-producer Megan Ellison ought to be the one to “top up” Lawrence’s back-end pay, but also mentions that Lawrence has already gotten one boost, from 5 to 7 points, in order to tie her with Amy Adams.
I’m not troubled by Jennifer Lawrence receiving less back-end pay. Yes, she’s a huge star, but she also has the smallest role among the principal cast. Her earning the least on back-end makes sense when it’s taken in relation to size of role (which is not the only determining factor but it is where producers start with this kind of thing, which is why she initially had the least points). What DOES trouble me is that Amy Adams didn’t make as much as Cooper and Bale. THAT is the disparity that matters because Adams has just as big a part as they did.
A fair scale would’ve been Bale, Adams, and Cooper at the top, then Renner, then Lawrence—that’s comparable to their actual work contribution to the film, and then the lawyers can haggle from there. But it’s clear that Adams was never part of that top tier. Why was she never valued the same as Bale and Cooper? It says a lot—and none of it good—that Renner, who has a smaller part, got paid more than one of the lead stars of the film.
This is hardly the only embarrassing evidence of Sony’s wage gap. Previously leaked documents reveal that not only is there only one woman (Pascal) among Sony’s top-earning executives, but that there is a significant wage gap between the co-presidents of production at Columbia Pictures, Hannah Minghella and Michael De Luca—De Luca earns $900,000 more than Minghella and they literally have the same job. Also, Stephen Mosko, who heads up Sony Pictures Television, makes nearly $3 million more than Amy Pascal, who runs the whole goddamned entertainment group.
Gender bias is CLEARLY a problem for Sony at every level from salaried employees to actors paid on temp contracts. And if this is happening at Sony, you bet your ass it’s happening everywhere else—they are not somehow worse than the rest of the industry. What we’re learning about Sony—that its executives are overwhelmingly white and male and that wage disparity is real—is a reflection of the state of the industry as a whole. For the most part, corporations are only as good as they’re made to be, and we’re learning that Sony has been allowed to be a pretty terrible place (morale wasn’t great before this and it’s now currently located somewhere in Satan’s assh*le). And if they’re this bad, can you imagine how bad it is at the other studios?
Attached – Jennifer Lawrence at LAX yesterday and Amy Adams in New York at the Big Eyes screening for the Academy.
Wenn, Rob Kim/ Getty Images