Seven things PR pros need to know on Wednesday morning, 12.17.2014

The latest on Sony's corporate crisis; WPP picks its next chairman; Fenton sells his firm after more than three decades; Brandwatch acquires PeerIndex; CNN's #AskACop backfires.

1. Movie theater chains are taking Sony Pictures Entertainment up on its offer to pull out of commitments to show The Interview starting on Christmas after the hackers who leaked troves of data on the company threatened physical violence against movie-goers. Sony has also cancelled the film’s New York City premiere, which was set for Thursday. Stars Seth Rogen and James Franco backed out of media appearances on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the hackers’ latest data cache leak has exposed the emails of Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman and CEO Michael Lynton, including some disputes the company had with The New York Times over coverage. Former employees have filed two lawsuits against the studio, claiming it should have kept their personal data safe.

2. WPP has appointed Roberto Quarta as chairman, succeeding Philip Lader after 14 years in the role, subject to board approval next June. Quarta was previously chairman of media technology company Smith & Nephew. Subject to his re-election to the role next year, Quarta could have some oversight of CEO Martin Sorrell’s pay package.

3. After more than three decades at the helm, David Fenton has sold his eponymous firm to two investors. Former Billboard editorial director Bill Werde is Fenton’s new CEO. The shop will join the Collegium network as a result of the deal.

4. Social media monitoring company Brandwatch has made its first acquisition, snapping up influencer analytics service PeerIndex.

Celebrations at Brandwatch HQ about @peerindex #insidebrandwatch

A photo posted by Brandwatch (@brandwatchsocial) on

5. As his company pushes further into Asia, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick told media in China this morning that the car-hailing service is investing more in background checks for drivers all over the world. An Uber driver in India was accused of raping a female passenger earlier this month, and the service was shut down in New Delhi as a result.

6. CNN’s attempt to get viewers to ask law-enforcement experts questions via the #AskACop hashtag backfired spectacularly on Tuesday night. The hashtag continued to be one of the top trending topics in the US as of Wednesday morning.

7. American Apparel fired longtime CEO Dov Charney on Tuesday after suspending him in June for alleged misconduct on the job. Fashion industry veteran Paula Schneider was named as his replacement. 

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