Sony hack: Mark Cuban threatened to leave ‘Shark Tank’ in salary tiff

Dallas Mavericks owner and "Shark Tank" cast member Mark Cuban stands on the court before a Mavericks game against the Washington Wizards last month.
Dallas Mavericks owner and “Shark Tank” cast member Mark Cuban stands on the court before a Mavericks game against the Washington Wizards last month.
(Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

Mark Cuban plays a tough negotiator on ABC’s “Shark Tank.” And behind the scenes, it’s clear that’s no act.

In an email exchange unearthed during the recent hacking attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA franchise, complained that the studio’s proposed salary for his work on upcoming seasons of “Shark Tank” was “beyond an insult.”

“Seriously?” Cuban wrote on Sept. 24 after receiving an email informing him that his Season 5 salary would be $30,000 per episode, with modest increases in following years. The exchange was first reported by the website Business Insider.


“No chance,” Cuban added. “This is beyond an insult and it shows no one cares about the investments i have made or the entrepreneurs.”

“Shark Tank” features Cuban and other billionaires listening to business pitches from entrepreneurs. If they like the products or services on display, the “sharks” bid against each other for stakes in the budding companies. The show started off modestly for ABC but has since turned into a Friday night staple.

Cuban closed with an ominous warning: “You may want to start cutting me out of the promos.”

It’s not clear how or whether the standoff was resolved, and of course it’s possible that Cuban wasn’t serious about leaving but was merely practicing the tough negotiation skills he displays on the show.

Show Tacker sent Cuban an email asking for comment but did not immediately hear back.

In any event, the episode shows how the hacking attack -- attributed to a shadowy group called Guardians of Peace -- continues to embroil Sony in unwelcome attention. The attack has already embarrassed Sony’s film chief, Amy Pascal, and producer Scott Rudin, who engaged in a series of intemperate email exchanges, including some that jokingly speculated whether President Obama would automatically enjoy black-themed films. Pascal and Rudin have apologized since the emails came to light.

What do you think of Cuban and “Shark Tank”?

Twitter: @scottcollinsLAT