Ben Affleck
Ben Affleck

Ben Affleck asked TV chiefs to hide slave-owning ancestry

BEN Affleck requested that TV bosses conceal information that one of his ancestors was a slave owner, according to a new set of Sony emails leaked by hackers.

The Oscar-winning director and actor demanded that producers leave some of the details about his heritage out of his story for TV program Finding Your Roots.

The request made by Affleck appeared to upset Henry Louis Gates, the host of the show, a Harvard history professor and a scholar of African and African American history. Even so, the details were omitted from the broadcast in September 2014.

The emails were published by WikiLeaks, which uploaded up to 30,000 such messages involving Sony last summer. The 2014 cyber attack was blamed on affiliates from North Korea. However, it is not known how the new messages were acquired by WikiLeaks.

"We are very grateful to all of our guests for allowing us into their personal lives and have told hundreds of stories in this series including many about slave ancestors - never shying away from chapters of a family's past that might be unpleasant," show host Gates said in a statement on Friday.

"Ultimately, I maintain editorial control on all of my projects and, with my producers, decide what will make for the most compelling programme. In the case of Mr Affleck we focused on what we felt were the most interesting aspects of his ancestry - including a Revolutionary War ancestor, a third great-grandfather who was an occult enthusiast, and his mother who marched for civil rights during the Freedom Summer of 1964."

According to the emails, Affleck's ask led Gates to contact Sony, the film company behind blockbuster Batman v Superman. Sony requested that Gates comply with his wishes.

Julian Assange, editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, justified publishing the leaked conversation about Affleck because he felt it showed the huge influence large media corporations have.

Affleck himself is yet to address the leak.