Judy Smith, the crisis manager who served as Shonda Rhimes‘ inspiration for Scandal‘s Olivia Pope, has been hired to help Sony through the studio’s current PR nightmare.

Sony Hires Judy Smith

Sony hired Smith, who started and runs her own crisis management firm Smith & Company, to deal with the backlash from the studio’s decision to not release The Interview to theaters on Christmas Day, reported TMZ. She’s also reportedly been advising Sony Pictures chief Amy Pascal, whose leaked emails have no doubt damaged her reputation and many professional relationships.

Smith was an obvious choice for Sony, which suffered a hacking attack due to the Kim John Un assassination plot in Seth Rogen and James Franco‘s The Interview. Not only has she worked in Hollywood before, she also has strong connections with the political sphere in Washington, D.C., as she once served as President George H.W. Bush‘s deputy press secretary.

On Friday, potentially acting on Smith’s advise, Sony released a statement in response to those criticizing the studio for shutting down The Interview’s theatrical release:

Sony Pictures Entertainment is and always has been strongly committed to the First Amendment. For more than three weeks, despite brutal intrusions into our company and our employees’ personal lives, we maintained our focus on one goal: getting the film “The Interview” released. Free expression should never be suppressed by threats and extortion.

The decision not to move forward with the December 25 theatrical release of “The Interview” was made as a result of the majority of the nation’s theater owners choosing not to screen the film. This was their decision.

Let us be clear – the only decision that we have made with respect to release of the film was not to release it on Christmas Day in theaters, after the theater owners declined to show it. Without theaters, we could not release it in the theaters on Christmas Day. We had no choice. After that decision, we immediately began actively surveying alternatives to enable us to release the movie on a different platform. It is still our hope that anyone who wants to see this movie will get the opportunity to do so.

 

Smith’s past high-profile clients include Monica Lewinsky, Wesley Snipes and Michael Vick. In 2012, she published a book, Good Self, Bad Self: Transforming Your Worst Qualities into Your Biggest Assets, and serves as  co-executive producer and technical advisor for Scandal.

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