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Sorkin defends Zuckerberg donation

By KAREN BUTLER   |   Sept. 28, 2010 at 12:46 PM   |   Comments

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NEW YORK, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- Aaron Sorkin, the screenwriter who penned the new movie "The Social Network," says he thinks some people are being too cynical about why Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg donated $100 million to the Newark, N.J., school system last week.

In the film, actor Jesse Eisenberg portrays Zuckerberg as a brilliant but socially inept and self-absorbed young man who double-crosses his friends and business partners on his way to becoming a billionaire while still in his 20s. Set to hit theaters Friday, the movie co-stars Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake, and is already generating Oscar buzz.

Despite the acclaim "Network" is earning, some of the real Zuckerberg's detractors have suggested his generous donation was timed to improve his image as the film is released. Sorkin, best known as creator of TV's "The West Wing," said he doesn't think that's right.

"I really do think this has nothing to do with the movie. But I really do think that it is worth mentioning. We all do because we were all talking about it last night -- not just (the cast and myself), but everybody involved in the movie, everybody at Sony and everybody involved in the New York Film Festival. No sooner had it been announced that Mark Zuckerberg donated $100 million to the Newark public school system -- a school system that like many sorely needs it -- but talk of cynical motives were being ascribed to it, and I just have to say that's wrong," Sorkin told reporters at a news conference at the Harvard Club in New York last Saturday. "He's made a great gesture. Surely, the students, parents, teachers don't care why somebody does something like that. The only response is: 'Thank you, sir. Thank you very much.'"

Asked if he would like to meet the real Zuckerberg, Eisenberg replied: "I spent six months thinking about him and I developed a great affection for my character and, of course, by extension, the man. I would be very interested in meeting him. Fortunately, my first cousin landed a great job at Facebook a month before we finished shooting, so, hopefully, he can facilitate an introduction.

"I don't know what I'd say," the actor added, confessing he fears he might say the wrong thing when the opportunity finally presents itself. "It's the kind of thing you think about all the time, but when you finally give the card it says 'Merry Christmas' instead of 'Happy Valentine's Day.'"

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