SONY WATCH: Is 007-friendly exec’s position imperiled?

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Thanks to hackers, the past few weeks haven’t been good for Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment Group and president of that entity’s film unit. James Bond fans have reason to follow the Pascal saga.

Pascal is a Sony executive who works closely with Eon Productions, which produces the James Bond film series. Sony has released the Bond films starting with 2006’s Casino Royale.

It’s a complicated relationship. The Bond franchise is owned by Eon and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Sony doesn’t have the control it has over its other movie properties. But Bond is a positive for Sony.

Many Sony documents were hacked, including emails where Pascal made racially insensitive remarks about U.S. President Barack Obama. There were other emails that referred to actress-director Angelina Jolie as a “spoiled brat,” which led to an extremely uncomfortable meeting between Pascal and Jolie.

Why should Bond fans care? The LOS ANGELES TIMES has raised the question whether all this bad publicity will force Pascal to take the fall and yield her job.

Here’s an excerpt (in the second quote “she” refers to Pascal):

“Typically, somebody senior’s head rolls when there is a hacking scandal, and the embarrassing email disclosures just help determine who that is going to be in this case,” said Laura Martin, senior media analyst for Needham & Co. “If she becomes the weak link because people believe she can’t actually work in the business, it’s just, OK, now we know who it is going to be. None of it is particularly fair, but if somebody’s head has to roll, they are looking for the path of least resistance.”

Publicly, at least, Pascal has been very supportive of Barbara Broccoli, the co-boss of Eon. In October 2005, when Daniel Craig was cast as Bond — a choice spearheaded by Broccoli — Pascal defended the choice.

Some fans, at the time, had criticized Craig (listed as 5-feet-10) as being too short to play Bond. Pascal told THE NEW YORK TIMES that Craig was “the same size as Sean Connery.” Connery is listed as 6-foot-2.

More recently, Pascal sided with Broccoli over the budget of SPECTRE, the 24th Eon 007 film that began filming this week.

Some of the hacked Sony emails detailed a conflict between MGM and Eon over the size of SPECTRE’s budget, according to THE CNN/MONEY WEBSITE. The emails indicate that SPECTRE’s budget may exceed $300 million, which would make it one of the most expensive movies ever made.

According to the CNN/Money story, Broccoli attempted to fight off cost-cutting suggestions from MGM and Pascal chimed in, siding with Broccoli.

The SPECTRE disclosures aren’t nearly as serious compared with how hackers have disclosed Social Security numbers and other information about Sony employees. Afterall, how would you like it if your personal data suddenly showed up on the Internet?

Meanwhile, from a 007 perspective, Pascal’s ultimate fate is worth following.

00Bama?

As we type this, Jon Stewart just led off The Daily Show with a segment comparing President Barack Obama’s trip to Europe and Iraq to 007 (and Superman from Superman IV). More tomorrow (when we can perhaps embed the video).

UPDATE: For now, just check out The Daily Show’s Web site by clicking RIGHT HERE. It’s a video called 00Bama: International Man of History.