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Exit Interview: Sony Pics co-chair Amy Pascal flees 'Nork' hack studio

Her contract ends after server raid, Kim Jong Un-ribbing movie

The co-chairman of hacker-ravaged Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) Amy Pascal has stepped down – and will form her own production company in association with the Hollywood studio.

"I have spent almost my entire professional life at Sony Pictures and I am energized to be starting this new chapter based at the company I call home," she said in a statement to the media.

"I have always wanted to be a producer. [Sony Entertainment CEO] Michael [Lynton] and I have been talking about this transition for quite some time, and I am grateful to him for giving me the opportunity to pursue my long-held dream and for providing unparalleled support. As the slate for the next two years has come together, it felt like the right time to transition into this new role."

Pascal, 56, was severely embarrassed by emails leaked by miscreants calling themselves the Guardians of Peace, who infiltrated the studio's computer networks and comprehensive ransacked the servers.

Among all the highly sensitive personal files, internal messages and corporate data copied and dumped on the web by the hackers, there were emails sent by Pascal in which she described Angelina Jolie as a "minimally talented spoiled brat" and suggested that President Obama would be a fan of films with black characters – such as 12 Years a Slave.

But it's not thought her departure is linked to the security breach – an attack bizarrely blamed on North Korea by the FBI after the SPE flick The Interview poked fun at Nork leader Kim Jong Un.

Showbiz hacks at the Daily Mail couldn't resist claiming the co-chairman was "forced out", though point out her contract was due to end in March anyway. Cleaning up the mess of the network breach cost the studio $15m.

Pascal insists she is leaving Sony to set up her own production company, which will be bankrolled by Sony and will be a producer in the studio's forthcoming Ghostbusters reboot (with a rumored all-female cast) and the latest reboot of the Spider-Man franchise.

"I am happy to say that Amy's decision is not the end of her relationship with the studio but the start of a new and exciting chapter in her extraordinary career that promises to be mutually beneficial," Lynton wrote in an email to staff leaked to the Hollywood Reporter.

"She can refocus her career on her first great love -- filmmaking-- and SPE can continue its association with an extremely talented and valued associate. Her decision has the full support of (Sony Corp. president and CEO) Kazuo Hirai." ®

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