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Thursday, 7 June, 2001, 09:22 GMT 10:22 UK
Inquiry into fake film critic
Kevin Bacon and Elizabeth Shue
Hollow Man's Kevin Bacon and Elizabeth Shue: Fake boost
Connecticut's attorney general is investigating Sony Pictures' use of an imaginary film critic to boost its own films.

The critic David Manning, whose praise had adorned posters for many of Sony's latest releases, was revealed as an invention on Monday by a Newsweek reporter.

The mythical Manning called Heath Ledger the "year's hottest star!" in an advertisement for A Knight's Tale.

Manning also said of the just-released comedy, The Animal: "The producing team of Big Daddy has delivered another winner!"
Heath Ledger
A Knight's Tale: Manning called Heath Ledger the "year's hottest star!"

Manning was described as a film critic for the Connecticut weekly newspaper the Ridgefield Press.

But the paper does not have a film critic and was unaware its name was being used.

State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said his office had received several complaints.

Subpoenas

"We give this practice two thumbs down - it could be deceptive and misleading advertising," said Blumenthal.

The attorney general said his office would issue subpoenas if necessary to determine whether the complaints are valid.

If Sony is found to have deceived filmgoers, the company could face substantial fines.
Chris O'Donnell
Vertical Limit: Highly rated by "David Manning"

Newsweek reported that the critic Manning was dreamed up by an unidentified Sony marketing executive last July to enhance publicity for the studio's films.

Films in receipt of Manning's praise included last year's Hollow Man and Vertical Limit.

Industry rule

The revelation about Manning came only days after Sony admitted it paid cinemas to run a preview of its film The Animal before hit movies.

This move was criticised for violating a long-standing industry rule of giving away trailers to cinemas.

Sony has now removed the manufactured quotes from future print advertisements and launched its own investigation into the incident.

"It was a case of incredibly bad judgment - we're taking all the steps necessary to determine who's been responsible and will act appropriately," said a Sony spokeswoman.

See also:

05 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Disney and Sony lead worldwide takings
23 Mar 01 | Film
Oscar films win at box office
07 Jun 01 | Film
Inquiry into fake film critic
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