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Here’s how I figure: Sony’s Amy Pascal, producer Scott Rudin and the marketing people took one look at Seth Rogen’s dog and knew it was a loser. Desperate, they devised a quietly brilliant marketing strategy to make it look as if the North Koreans were criminally responsible for the hacking fiasco so that the film, on line and in theatres, would be sold out because patrons would go to see it as their patriotic duty. (In Atlanta’s Plaza theatre the audience stood and sang “God Bless America” before the picture went on.)
It would not surprise me if Sony had somehow persuaded, or maneuvered, Kim Jong-Un to do what he did (or didn’t do). Convince me otherwise.
Ancients ago as an agent I “repped” a sweet, innocent, virtually sexless comedy “The Moon Is Blue” by a client F. Hugh Herbert. Two aging bachelors (client David Niven and William Holden) campaign to seduce a young woman who stubbornly, propagandistically remains a virgin. No physical sex, no bad words, and we didn’t expect much box office despite its Broadway success.
The moralists rode to our rescue. The then-reigning rating czars at the Motion Picture Association banned it because the script reflected an “unacceptably light attitude towards seduction, illicit sex, chastity and virginity,” among other things. Hooray!
But we really lucked out when the Catholic church’s cardinal Spellman and his bishops from pulpits commanded their flocks to stay away which of course just added to our box office. One day my boss burst into my office shouting gleefully, “We’re in! The Pope just banned us!”
How did we ever manage that? I asked.
She grinned evilly. “Ah, we have our ways.”
Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Hemingway Lives.