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Here's What Sony Executives Said About Laurene Powell Jobs and the 'Steve Jobs' Movie

Hacked emails tell the inside story behind the "Steve Jobs" movie.

Universal via YouTube

Long before the lead actor for the “Steve Jobs” movie was even cast, Laurene Powell Jobs was dead set against the film being made.

Email exchanges made public by Sony’s hackers reveal how Sony Pictures tried to deal with Jobs’s widow’s objections to any movie inspired by the best-selling biography by Walter Isaacson, which she and others at Apple find to be a two-dimensional portrait of a complicated man. Her fight over the film was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Hints that the film is an unflattering portrait of Apple’s co-founder come through in production notes from February 2014, in which one section suggests “some ways to decrease Jobs’ cruelty in the first act.”

The movie’s producer, Scott Rudin, tried to engage Powell Jobs early on, just as he had done with the real people behind another Aaron Sorkin-penned film “The Social Network,” about the rise of Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook. But sources and email exchanges suggest she wasn’t interested.

Sony ultimately surrendered the film to Universal*, amid disagreements over budget, casting and profit participation. But up until the very end, Laurene Jobs was on executives’ minds.

As Sony Pictures Entertainment Chief Executive Michael Lynton prepared to attend an October 2014 Apple event — the one where Apple showed off the iPad Air 2 — he and the studio’s former head of communications, Charles Sipkins, discussed a likely encounter with Jobs’s widow.

On Oct 17, 2014, at 12:01 PM, Sipkins, Charles wrote:

are you going to the eddy cue event next thursday? i’m undecided.

On Oct 17, 2014, at 12:15 PM, Lynton, Michael wrote:

I am going to stop by, i have to.

On Oct 17, 2014, at 12:21 PM, Sipkins, Charles wrote:

as you probably would imagine, Laurene Jobs will be there. FYI.

Days later, Lynton asked Rudin whether he has managed to make contact with Powell Jobs — though the outcome of that discussion is not clear from their email exchange.

>>>>>> On Oct 22, 2014, at 6:25 AM, Scott Rudin wrote:
>>>>>>> Called Laurene twice; cannot get a return.

>>>>> From: Lynton, Michael
>>>>>> Sent: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 09:30 AM Eastern Standard Time
>>>>>> To: Scott Rudin
>>>>>> Subject: Re:
>>>>>> guess she doesnt want to talk, will see her at an event here in la on
>>>>>> thursday, will see if i can make a connection.

On Oct 22, 2014, at 11:56 AM, Scott Rudin wrote:

Just talked to Laurene —— call me!

Powell Jobs contacted Lisa Brennan-Jobs, apparently raising alarms over the script. Lisa is the daughter whose paternity Jobs initially denied, and who appears as a character in the film. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin alerted Sony legal department head Aimee Wolfson that Brennan-Jobs had requested a copy — a request he denied.

From: Aaron Sorkin

Sent: Monday, November 03, 2014 6:01 PM
To: Scott Rudin; Wolfson, Aimee
Subject: Fwd: from a. sorkin

If Laurene has a copy why would Lisa need to ask us? Twice?

Begin forwarded message:

From: Lisa Brennan-Jobs

Subject: Re: from a. sorkin

Date: November 3, 2014 5:51:43 PM PST

To: Aaron Sorkin

I believe my stepmother has a copy already — she’s the one who suggested I read it. I can have her get it to me, but it would be easier to look at it here. Is there any way, considering I can read it even so, that Aimee Wolfson can make an exception? I’m happy to keep quiet about it.
Thank you — and sorry to bother you about something that isn’t within your control.
All the very best,

On Nov 3, 2014, at 3:48 PM, Aaron Sorkin wrote:


I’ve just spoken to Aimee Wolfson, the Sony Legal Dept. lawyer who’s been working with me from the beginning and she’d be more comfortable if I didn’t show you the script right now. (Understand that the script is the property of the studio–if it belonged to me I’d be happy to show it to you.) I’m sure you must be anxious about what’s in the screenplay–as are Woz, Joanna Hoffman, John Sculley, Andy Hertzfeld, etc.–and I’d like to ease your concerns as soon as I can.


Lynton reveals in an exchange with actress Samantha Ressler that Jobs’s widow is fighting the film — but that Sony planned to proceed with the project anyway, with actor Michael Fassbender under consideration for the title role.

On Nov 7, 2014, at 5:05 PM, Lynton, Michael wrote:

>>>>…. Jobs proceeding apace. Jobs’ widow is opposed to it and getting in the way but Fassbender in our sights and things grinding forward.
As Sony Pictures’ former co-chairman, Amy Pascal, talked about her growing qualms about the film — which included its expanding budget and casting Fassbender in the lead — she confided in her long-time friend, Rudin, her worries about Jobs’s widow trashing the film, up until its release.

—– Original Message —–
> From: Pascal, Amy
> Sent: Sunday, November 16, 2014 03:00 PM Eastern Standard Time
> To: Scott Rudin
> Subject:
> there are so many things that make this movie controversial and i needed some kind of protection to feel comfortable. i did speak to [former Universal Pictures Chairman] adam fogelson and they may be interested. you know ms. jobs is gonna continue her rant all the way to the movie theater (we are sony ….the company apple put out of biz)….none of it was the guiding reason in and of itself …. i did the fair and honorable thing … and this is all for naught…but i really hope not and i hope i get another shot to make it with you.

A Sony spokesperson declined comment. Rudin, Sorkin and Powell Jobs did not respond to emails seeking comment.

* Universal is owned by Comcast, which has invested in Vox Media, which owns this website.

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