THERE'S NO QUESTION the massive breach of Sony Pictures' computer system has provided a degree of titillation and amusement along with massive grief and paranoia for all concerned.
But things took a dark and frightening turn yesterday when those behind the unprecedented hack (self-identified in an Orwellian manner as the "Guardians of Peace") threatened a "9/11"-style attack on movie theaters that screen "The Interview."
The film, which rolls out nationwide on Christmas Day, stars Seth Rogen and James Franco as TV gossip-show reporters who land an interview with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, only to be asked by the CIA to assassinate him. It is generally believed that Sony's financing of the comedy is what provoked the Guardians to hack and leak the company's computer files.
"We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places 'The Interview' be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to," said a Guardians message that reportedly first appeared on the social-media site Pastebin.
"Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made. The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you'd better leave.)
"Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment. All the world will denounce the SONY."
An anonymous Department of Homeland Security rep told the Huffington Post that the agency is investigating, but "there is no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters within the United States."
There are also reports that, rather than being a North Korean-inspired revenge plot, the Guardians' messages may be the work of disgruntled former or current Sony I.T. staffers.
"No one on the Sony lot wants to be associated in any way with anyone from the I.T. department right now," an unnamed studio insider told Radaronline.com. "The FBI has been focusing on the department and questioning staffers to figure out if it was an inside job."
Bill Cosby's dark autumn can't help but be brightened by the unyielding fealty displayed by his kinfolk.
Monday, the embattled funnyman's wife, Camille, did her "stand by your man" thing, insisting the Cos is "the man you thought you knew." Yesterday, it was his youngest daughter's turn, as Evin Cosby, 38, released the following statement to "Access Hollywood":
"He is the father you thought you knew. 'The Cosby Show' was my today's TV reality show. Thank you. That's all I would like to say."
Evin's supportive words came out the same day yet another woman publicly accused Philly-born Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her.
Chloe Goins, 24, told London's Daily Mail that, in 2008, Cosby spiked her drink then got her onto a bed naked during a Playboy Mansion party. She claimed the comic was licking and sucking her toes when she came out of a drug-induced fog and realized what was happening.
If true, this could make Cosby's problems exponentially worse: Unlike the other incidents already cited by other women, Goins' accusations are not covered by any statute-of-limitations laws.
Also yesterday, "Today" star Kathie Lee Gifford said Cosby tried to kiss her in the 1970s but halted his advances when she reminded him they were "friends."
Everyone's favorite lovebirds, Ray and Janay Rice, were given a surprise anniversary party thrown by friends Monday night.
According to TMZ Sports, the soiree - held at the Rices' crib and celebrating the touchy-feely couple's seven years as Baltimore residents (is there a card for that?) - featured a cake and enough booze to keep everyone's whistle wet.
Snaps posted by Janay suggest the bash included a round or two of Cards Against Humanity and more than a few rounds of brewskis and Fireball.
The latter items were offered despite the currently unemployed NFL star's pronouncements that he has sworn off hooch since his beat-down of Janay, which he blamed on booze, in a Revel Casino Hotel elevator became the most popular "candid camera" clip since Allen Funt died. (Translation for you kids: It went viral on social media.)
- Daily News wire services
contributed to this report.