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Sony executive may face call from Sharpton to resign over emails about race

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[December 13, 2014]  By Lisa Richwine
 LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton will meet next week with Sony Pictures Entertainment Co-Chairman Amy Pascal and decide whether her emails about President Barack Obama's race warrant calling for her resignation.

Pascal is under pressure after her private emails were exposed by hackers who attacked the computer network of the Hollywood movie studio, a unit of Sony Corp <6758.T>.

In exchanges with producer Scott Rudin, Pascal guesses that Obama might be a fan of "Django Unchained" or other films with black actors or themes. The emails were published by Buzzfeed and Reuters has not confirmed them.

In a statement on Thursday, Sharpton said Pascal's statements reflected a "lack of diversity" in Hollywood. He said Sony needed to take steps "to respect the African American community and reflect that respect in their hiring and business practices."

Pascal and Sharpton had a "candid conversation" when she phoned him to apologize on Thursday, said Sharpton's spokeswoman Jacky Johnson. But Sharpton "made clear he has not accepted her apology," she said.

Sharpton is "inclined" to call for Pascal's resignation, "but has agreed to hear her out in person" in New York before making a decision, Johnson said.

A Sony spokeswoman had no comment.

Pascal, in a statement on Thursday, apologized and said her emails were "insensitive and inappropriate." She told the Hollywood Reporter she reached out to Sharpton and Reverend Jesse Jackson and wanted to start "a healing process."

"I'm being proactive," she said. "And I want to accept responsibility for these stupid, callous remarks."

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White House spokesman Josh Earnest, at his daily news briefing on Friday, said "the decision that Ms. Pascal made to apologize was the appropriate one."

Aaron Sorkin, who wrote Sony hit "The Social Network," defended Pascal on Friday.

"Amy knows more than a lot of people what it's like to battle stereotypes," Sorkin told The Hollywood Reporter. "She's a woman at a large corporation who worked her way from assistant to the chairman's office. No one in the world feels worse than she does right now."

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Additional reporting by Steve Holland in Washington; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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