It's easy to interpret Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's $100 million donation to Newark schools—officially announced the exact day The Social Network opens the New York Film Festival—as a PR move to counter the film's negative portrayal of him.
Not so, says Zuck! (And Oprah.)
Zuckerberg was on Oprah today, along with Newark mayor Corey Booker and super-intense NJ Governor Chris Christie. It was a lot of jawing on and on about how important schools are, and how children's heads will fall off their necks if they don't have a good education, yadda yadda.
But the discussion did touch briefly on the interesting timing of the donation. Oprah went to great lengths to point out that: 1) She and Cory Booker had to basically force Zuckerberg not to donate anonymously and to come on her show; and 2) Zuck and Booker had been talking about this for ages and were planning on doing the announcement early last month, but things came up, so don't make anything of the fact that the Social Network comes out today!
And when asked about the film, which portrays him in a not-so-favorable light, Zuck dismissed it with a now-common Facebook put-down: It's all fake.
It's a movie, it's fun. A lot of it is fiction, but even the filmmakers will say that. They're trying to build a good story. This is my life, so I know it's not that dramatic. The last six years have been a lot of coding and focus and hard work. But maybe it would be fun to remember it as partying and all this crazy drama, so who knows, maybe it will be a good story.
They also went into Zuckerberg's house! The first time cameras have ever been allowed in there, said Oprah. (Though we got some good ones of the outside.)
It seems that Zuck and Co. have been forced to stop damage control on The Social Network in favor of damage control on the damage control. Yeesh, almost makes you feel bad for the guy until you realize he's richer than Steve Jobs.