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Sony hack reveals gender gap even affects Hollywood stars

By and large, the implications from the Sony hack have been unnerving, unsavory and straight-up damning. Aside from completely eradicating lifelong careers, healthy egos and positive public images, the hackers also recently threatened actual terrorism to moviegoers looking for an escape from reality.Now, as a woman who worked in film and television production for several years, I can’t say I’m surprised at what was said in the supposed hacked emails (knowing that I’ve likely felt pressured into writing some scathing criticism myself) — but the mere fact that this deplorable invasion of private conversations has led to entirely absurd economic and political situations is pretty unbelievable.

However, with every scandal comes a “silver lining” (pun intended) — with the recent focus on the gender gap, of all things, stemming from this one.

According to The Washington Post, a Dec. 5, 2013, exchange between Sony and Columbia Pictures executives revealed that Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams were being paid less than their male co-stars in “American Hustle,” which was released a week later.

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“The email detailed the ‘points’ — or percentages of back-end profits — that each of the film’s main actors was to receive,” The Washington Post writer Sally Kohn said.

“The male actors — Christian Bale, Jeremy Renner and Bradley Cooper — were each getting 9 points. Amy Adams, the lead actress, was getting just 7 points. (It should be noted that Amy Adams, at this point in her career, had been nominated for four Academy Awards — more than Renner and Cooper combined. Bale had one Oscar win at the time). Lawrence, meanwhile, had originally been receiving only 5 points, which was later raised to 7 points, according to the email written by Andrew Gumpert, Columbia Pictures President of Business Affairs and Administration.”

Well, well. What do you know? The difference between 7 and 9 points equals out to about a 20 percent difference in share of the back-end profits — perfectly exemplifying the cries of “feminists” everywhere that women still earn 77 cents to a man’s dollar.

“Even the wealthiest and most powerful women among us are burdened by the ever-present gender gap,” Kohn said.

Kohn rallies against naysayers of the “supposed gender pay gap” by pointing out that Lawrence is a single, childless women with fancy entertainment lawyers to do all the negotiating for her — not a mother who chose a less-demanding job or failed to negotiate for herself as a man would.

Furthermore, she brought incredible star power to “American Hustle,” having just won an Oscar for Best Leading Actress for her role in “Silver Linings Playbook” (also opposite Oscar-nominee Cooper) and having just starred in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” which claimed one of the largest box office opening weekends in movie history.

Though young and “inexperienced” in comparison with Adams’ and Cooper’s filmographies, Lawrence’s rise to stardom and indisputable talent deserved equal pay right from the start.

And even though her screen time in “American Hustle” was half of Cooper’s and Adams’ and a third of Bale’s (another conversation entirely), that doesn’t necessarily mean she didn’t have as many days of filming.

Actually, let’s not even go there — Adams has a total of 46 minutes of screen time in “American Hustle”; Cooper, 41. So that excuse for why the actresses may have been paid less doesn’t exactly pan out, now, does it?

What’s even more disturbing is that women and men alike — studio executives, lawyers, accountants and more — knew of these inequities and failed to point them out until a week before the film’s release date.

But, then again — knowing what it’s like to be a woman in Hollywood — I’m surprised it was ever brought up at all.

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Meg Fry

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