President Obama just threw down the gauntlet ... saying Sony blundered by pulling "The Interview."
It was inevitable that someone would ask Obama about the Sony mess at Friday's news conference and Obama didn't mince words. He wished out loud that Sony would have called him before making the call to yank the film.
The President's words are likely to cause major grief at the Sony lot ... especially with Sony pictures Chief Amy Pascal. It's a one-two punch ... the first at the hands of George Clooney.
Having Met Kim Jong-un ...
I Know Sony Should Back Off
12/19/2014 12:25 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Former NBA All-Star Kenny Anderson says Sony Pictures absolutely did the right thing by pulling "The Interview" out of theaters ... and adds he can't figure out why they made it in the first place.
Kenny actually met Kim Jong-un when he went to North Korea in January as part of Dennis Rodman's goodwill team of ex-NBA players. He tells TMZ Sports ... "I was trippin' when I saw the movie preview. Why would they want to ruffle their feathers? They already hate America."
Kenny says Kim Jong-un actually treated him very well while he was there -- but admits he was ignorant to the atrocities committed by Kim's regime ... until he got back stateside.
He says he's confused about the plan to greenlight 'Interview' .. but adds, "I think they might've been trying to make Americans aware of some of the stuff that happens over there."
As for the financial hit Sony stands to take -- Kenny says the money's not as important as human lives. As he puts it, "Sometimes it's best to cut your losses."
Jon Huntsman, Jr.
You Owe America 'The Interview'
12/19/2014 12:20 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Hunstman, Jr. isn't scared of North Korea and doesn't think Sony should be either ... and he thinks Sony screwed up by shelving 'The Interview.'
Our D.C. photog felt Hunstman was the perfect person to ask, since he's North Korea adjacent, having served as U.S. Ambassador to both Singapore and China.
The former presidential hopeful had some friendly advice for Sony: Don't let anybody stand in the way of what you do best ... making movies.
Has he seen 'White House Down?'
Cuban Cigar Crisis ...
La Foto Es Verdad!!
12/18/2014 4:00 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Move over Monica ... there's a new controversial cigar in the White House -- a Cuban fingered by President Obama in a photo many thought was fake, but we've learned it's the real deal.
The original pic shows Obama Wednesday night ... sampling the aroma of what's alleged to be a Cuban cigar. It was posted on Reddit Thursday morning, and immediately the Internet started tearing it apart as a Photoshop job.
TMZ has obtained several high-res pics of POTUS' run-in with the cigar -- and our photo/art experts say everything about them looks legit. Significant ... since Cuba and the U.S. just agreed to open embassies in each other's countries.
According to our D.C. sources ... the hand-off went down during the White House Hanukkah party -- when an invitee walked up and said, "Mr. President, here's a Cuban." Obama proceeded to give it a huge sniff and then held on to the gift. It's unclear if he pocketed it or handed it to the Secret Service.
Considering Michelle Obama -- who's been known to make a stink about Barack's cigarette smoking -- was standing right next to him ... we're guessing he ditched it.
Sony Hacking Scandal
I'm on the Case!
12/18/2014 5:53 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Carl Bernstein has some serious questions about Sony's decision to pull "The Interview" from theaters ... and he's planning on digging for answers.
The legendary journalist talked to our photog just after the news broke Wednesday afternoon ... saying he hopes Sony made the move because of a credible threat and not out of cowardice.
Bernstein said he'll call his sources to find out if Sony was justified based on real threats ... and the guy clearly has sources.
We spotted Bernstein again later that night (random, right?) where he wondered out loud whether or not it was a good idea to make a film about assassinating a foreign leader in the first place.
Sony Hacking Is An Act of War ...
Let's Hunt Them Down
12/17/2014 3:50 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Newt Gingrich wants President Obama to treat the Sony hackers just like Osama Bin Laden -- by tracking them down and getting revenge for what he calls America's first defeat in a cyber war.
We talked to the former Speaker of the House in NYC ... right after Sony announced it was pulling "The Interview" from theaters and he did not try to hide his anger over the hack.
Gingrich says we've now opened the door for foreign terrorists to control American media. As he puts it ... "If they [the Sony hackers] can pull it off, do the Iranians come next?"
Watch the video ... Newt does suggest a plan for Sony to save face and stick it to the hackers.
Stuck in Canada
What About Amnesty for Me!!!
12/15/2014 1:50 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Randy Quaid and his wife went to Canada and now they're not allowed to come home ... so they're suing the United States Secretary of State so they can return to their homeland.
Seems Randy and Evi are paying the piper for all the trouble emanating from some hotel hijinks. They skipped out on their $10K hotel bill in 2009 by using bogus credit cards. Criminal charges were filed but they evaded authorities and felony arrest warrants were issued.
Randy and Evi went to Canada in 2010 but there was a big problem ... they're fugitives from justice because the felony warrants are still active. So the U.S. government revoked their passports.
They've tried to get asylum in Canada but the government shut them down.
The couple just filed a lawsuit against John Kerry, claiming they have been illegally deprived of their legal identity as American citizens.
President Obama --
RIPS ROGER GOODELL
NFL 'Behind the Curve' On Dom. Violence
12/12/2014 8:59 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
President Barack Obama just went after Roger Goodell -- saying the NFL Commish is "winging it" when it comes to the league's disciplinary action on domestic violence.
Obama called in to ESPN's "The Herd" and talked to Colin Cowherd about the Ray Rice situation.
"The way it was handled also indicates that the NFL was behind the curve," Obama said ... "As a lot of institutions have been behind the curve, in sending a clear message.”
That's when Obama took aim at Goodell -- who's been under fire for being inconsistent with the punishment he's dished out to players.
"You don’t want to be winging it when something like this happens. You want to have clear policies in place."
Obama did say there was a silver lining from the Rice situation -- "I’m so glad we got more awareness about domestic violence. Obviously, the situation that happened in the Rice family was important, but it did lift up awareness that this is a real problem that we have to root out and men have to change their attitudes and their behavior."
GAFFE OF THE YEAR
Sexual Assault Begins at Home
12/12/2014 6:52 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Prepare to apply palm to forehead.
Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen made one of the all-time blunders yesterday when asked about a sexual assault case involving a Tennessee Titans football player.
The 65-year-old politician explained that he's not really a big football guy ... but keeps up with Peyton and Eli Manning ... and knows the following thing to be 100% true:
"Eli and Peyton DON'T DO sexual assault against people ... other than their wives."
(apply palm to forehead now)
Even more shocking, the congressman didn't seem to realize his gaffe ... and moved on to the next topic without correcting himself.
He's Out to Kill Obama [911 Tape]
12/12/2014 1:00 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Scott had just gone AWOL from a mental facility late last month, when his sister-in-law told the 911 dispatcher he was cruising around his neighborhood, shirtless on a bicycle. She says the former Creed frontman claimed to be a CIA agent and his mission was to kill Obama.
Stapp claimed in a rambling video the IRS is trying to ruin his life because he's been trashing Obama.
Jaclyn Stapp, Scott's wife, joins the 40-minute 911 call, telling the dispatcher Scott had printed out 400 - 600 pages of CIA documents which he supposedly found online, put them in a book bag and took off on his bike.
The 2 women were pleading with the dispatcher to snare Scott and take him back to the psych ward.
As cops were dispatched, Scott placed his own 911 call, saying his wife had stolen his truck and that's why he was on a bike.
When cops arrived Scott told them Jaclyn had pilfered $6 mil from him, and when he confronted her she decided to get him locked up. In the end, police determined Scott did not show enough signs of mental instability to warrant a psych hold.
TMZ broke the story ... Jaclyn has filed legal docs trying to get Scott on a 60-day psych hold, claiming he was deep into various drugs, including coke, weed, PCP and amphetamines. Scott posted a video claiming he's drug free.
Loves Slavery & Kevin Hart Flicks
... Sony Execs Joke in Leaked Emails
12/11/2014 7:16 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
10:00 AM PT -- Rudin is now apologizing, saying ... "Private emails between friends and colleagues written in haste and without much thought or sensitivity, even when the content of them is meant to be in jest, can result in offense where none was intended. " He adds the comments were insensitive and not at all funny -- and he is "profoundly and deeply sorry" to anyone he offended.
For her part, Pascal says even though the private emails were stolen ... she accepts full responsibility for what she wrote ... and apologizes for the comments.
Neither apologized for the Angelina Jolie comments.
President Obama just loves him some slavery movies, and don't get him started on Kevin Hart -- that's what a couple of Hollywood power players joked about anyway -- in new leaked emails.
In the exchange ... Sony Pictures honcho Amy Pascal asks blockbuster producer Scott Rudin for advice on small talk with the prez at a fundraiser, saying ... "Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?"
Rudin replied, "12 YEARS" ... and Pascal fired back ... "Or the butler. Or think like a man?"
The racially charged email convo, first published by Buzzfeed, wraps up when Rudin says ... "Ride-along. I bet he likes Kevin Hart."
At least Obama's in good company -- the hackers already leaked Sony Pictures emails ripping Angelina Jolie, Michael Fassbender, and Hart.
Rudin and Pascal never mentioned a Madea movie though. Sorry, Tyler Perry.
Senator Ted Cruz
My Secret Santa Partners
Were Both Democrats!
12/11/2014 6:54 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Christmas is a time for setting aside differences, even in the Senate ... and there's no better proof of that than Secret Santa ... so says Senator Ted Cruz.
Cruz broke it down for us ... the folks in the Senate do the famous gift exchange just like the rest of us ... but with a $15 limit. Cutbacks across the board!
But Cruz chose to ignore the "secret" part and revealed to us who he bought for and who bought for him ... and they were both from the other side of the aisle.
'Tis the season!
Sony Boots Media from Premiere
12/10/2014 4:38 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Score one for the hackers -- Sony Pictures is shutting down all interviews with Seth Rogen and James Franco at the Hollywood premiere of "The Interview" ... in the wake of repeated cyber attacks.
Sony says it's banning all broadcast media from Thursday night's red carpet for the event ... and print reporters will not be allowed to interview any of the cast and crew from the controversial movie about assassinating Kim Jong Un.
Sony isn't saying the drastic change is a response to the hackers -- but it came down hours after emails between Sony execs were leaked ... which blasted Kevin Hart and Angelina Jolie.