Why 'The Interview' stars are canceling media appearances

Seth Rogen and James Franco say they will no longer promote their upcoming Sony film, 'The Interview,' in response to threats.

Dan Steinberg, Invision, AP Images, File
Actor Seth Rogen, right, and actor James Franco attend the premiere of the feature film "The Interview" in Los Angeles on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014.

Recent threats from the so-called "Guardians of Peace," a group that says it is responsible for the large-scale hack into Sony Pictures Entertainment data, warn Americans to "keep yourself distant" from movie theaters planning to play “The Interview.” 

Following the threat, Seth Rogen and James Franco, the movie’s two stars, have pulled back on their media appearances, canceling interviews with Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, and Buzzfeed Brews, Buzzfeed reported on Tuesday afternoon. The Guardians' threat invoked the 9/11 attacks on the US, saying in part, “Remember the 11th of September 2001.”

A spokesperson for Landmark Sunshine cinemas said that the New York premiere of "The Interview," scheduled for Thursday night, has been canceled. Carmike Cinemas, which operates 247 theaters across the country, was the first to cancel its planned showings of the film, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The Department of Homeland Security said there was "no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters," but noted it was still analyzing messages from the group, dubbed GOP. The warning did prompt law enforcement in New York and Los Angeles to address measures to ramp up security, reports the Associated Press.

The Sony hack exposed employee Social Security numbers, movie scripts, and private email exchanges between actors, producers, and Sony employees. Previously, Mr. Rogen had denounced the Sony hack in an interview with Howard Stern.

“It’s stolen information that media outlets are directly profiting from,” Rogen said. 

During the interview, Mr. Stern said, possibly jokingly, President Barack Obama “should have announced immediately, we’re under attack.”

Stern then asked Americans to evaluate their own actions. Instead of relishing gossip found in the report, he said, “The country should have rallied around Sony. We should have as Americans said, 'This is wrong, we’re under attack.’ ”

Other Hollywood A-listers have rallied against the hackers, too.

"I think someone's conversation, whether in e-mail or in person, should be private,” Brad Pitt told Access Hollywood’s Shaun Robinson. “We shouldn't be participating, and these sites that are disseminating them should stop. They won't. And we should stop reading them. We won't," Brad continued. "It's more of an indictment on us, I think."

And on Monday morning, the New York Times published screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s op-ed, which noted that hackers’ messages have threatened actors and their families.

He criticized news outlets’ willingness to publish this information from an organization that has made these threats.

“The co-editor in chief of Variety tells us he decided that the leaks were — to use his word — “newsworthy.” I’m dying to ask him what part of the studio’s post-production notes on Cameron Crowe’s new project is newsworthy. So newsworthy that it’s worth carrying out the wishes of people who’ve said they’re going to murder families and who have so far done everything they’ve threatened to do. Newsworthy. As the character Inigo Montoya said in “The Princess Bride," "I do not think it means what you think it means."

After a Sony executive criticized actor Kevin Hart for asking for a higher pay if he used his social media accounts to promote a film, Mr. Hart wrote on Instagram that he can “brush ignorance off” and “continue to move forward.” 

Together and separately, Rogen and Mr. Franco have made the rounds to promote the film, speaking on high-profile programs and even staging an in-character interview of other celebrities.

The film will be released on Christmas Day.

Editor's note: The original version of this story misstated the name of the hacker group.

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