Sony Pictures Entertainment has formally reprimanded and suspended two advertising executives for their participation in the creation of the fake film critic whose "quotes" were used to promote Columbia Pictures' films.
The bogus blurbs, written by "David Manning" of the very real The Ridgefield Press in Ridgefield, Connecticut, were spotted by Newsweek senior writer John Horn, who was writing an article about studios using lesser-known film critics and their glowing reviews to promote the studio's films. Horn told the Los Angeles Times Tuesday that he was examining, in particular, the quotes for the Columbia Pictures' film The Animal, starring Rob Schneider, which the studio had not screened for the press.
The fictional Manning praised the film as "another winner from the producing team of Big Daddy!"
All the critics were real, except for Manning, Horn said. When he called The Ridgefield Press, he was told there was no Manning working for the paper and that all their film reviews were written by a father and son. Manning also gave critical praise to other Columbia Pictures' films such as the recent A Knight's Tale and last year's Hollow Man.
While the studio will not confirm the names of the individuals who have been sent off for 30 days without pay effective Thursday, company insiders told Variety that the two suspended were senior vice president of creative advertising Josh Goldstine and director of creative advertising Matthew Cramer.
According to Variety, the studio's publicity department would select favorable quotes from critics for use in their promotional campaigns and send them on to the advertising department. They did not review the final copy. This was how Cramer came up with the phantom quotes, sources told Variety. It is reported that Cramer came up with the name from his old college roommate, David Bradley Manning.
Sony's worldwide marketing and distribution chief Jeff Blake said in a statement that "a new system of checks and balances [will be put in place] to ensure the accuracy of quotes contained in future advertising campaigns and to prevent this [from] happening again." With this system, the publicity department will be able to review quotes in the final advertising copy.
The announcement by Sony came within hours of a class-action suit filed by two moviegoers, Omar Rezec of Sherman Oaks and Ann Belknap of Sierra Madre, in Los Angeles Superior Court against Sony, alleging deceptive, unfair and unlawful business practices and false advertising in connection with the ads. They claim they were duped into seeing A Knight's Tale based on Manning's quotes.
Martin V. Heram, a managing partner of The Ridgefield Press, says his company has no plans to proceed with any legal actions for the fabrication, but Jack Sanders, the executive editor of the paper, told the Los Angeles Times Tuesday, "We are all sort of amazed that [Sony] has not even called to apologize."
The Oscars aren't just about movie stars.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present 17 awards for outstanding scientific and technical achievements. And for the first time, one of the awards will be an actual Oscar statuette, which will go to the Pixar folks for the development of the software "Renderman."
"This is the first Oscar ever given specifically for the development of computer software," Academy President Robert Rehme said today.
The 17 awards were voted by the Academy's Board of Governors, based upon the recommendations from the Scientific and Technical Awards Committee.
The Scientific and Technical Academy Awards will be presented on March 3 in Beverly Hills.
Here's the complete list of winners:
Academy Award of Merit (Oscar Statuette)
To Rob Cook, Loren Carpenter and Ed Catmull for their significant advancements to the field of motion picture rendering as exemplified in Pixar's "Renderman."
Scientific and Engineering Awards (Academy Plaques)
To AKAI Digital for the design and development of the DD8 Plus digital audio dubber specifically designed for the motion picture industry.
To Fairlight for the design and development of the DaD digital audio dubber specifically designed for the motion picture industry.
To Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) for the design and development of the Sony DADR 5000 digital audio dubber specifically designed for the motion picture industry.
To Timeline, Incorporated for the design and development of the MMR 8 digital audio dubber specifically designed for the motion picture industry.
To Joe Wary, Gerald Painter and Colin F. Mossman for the design and development of the Deluxe Laboratories Multi Roller Film Transport System.
Technical Achievement Awards (Academy Certificates)
To Vic Armstrong for the refinement and application to the film industry of the Fan Descender for accurately and safely arresting the descent of stunt persons in high freefalls.
To Bill Tondreau of Kuper Systems, Alvah J. Miller and Paul Johnson of Lynx Robotics, and David Stump of Visual Effects Rental Services for the conception, design and development of data capture systems that enable superior accuracy, efficiency and economy in the creation of composite imagery.
To Leonard Pincus, Ashot Nalbandyan, George Johnson and Tom Kong for the design and development of the Softsun low pressure xenon long-arc light sources, their power supplies and fixtures.
To Glenn Berggren for the concept, Horst Linge for research and development, and Wolfgang Reineke for the final design and production of the Isco-Optic lenses for motion picture projection.
To Udo Schauss and Karl Lenhardt for the optical design, and Ralf Linn and Norbert Brinker for the mechanical design of the Schneider Super Cinelux lenses for motion picture projection.
To Philip Greenstreet of Rosco Laboratories for the concept and development of the Roscolight Day/Night Backdrop.
To Venkat Krishnamurthy for the creation of the Paraform Software for 3D Digital Form Development.
To George Borshukov, Kim Libreri and Dan Piponi for the development of a system for image-based rendering allowing choreographed camera movements through computer graphic reconstructed sets.
To John Pytlak for the development of the Laboratory Aim Density (LAD) system.
To Alvah J. Miller and Paul Johnson of Lynx Robotics for the electronic and software design of the Lynx C-50 Camera Motor System.
To Al Mayer, Sr. and Al Mayer, Jr., for the mechanical design, Iain Neil for the optical design and Brian Dang for the electronic design of the Panavision Millennium XL Camera System.
Now you may stop reading.
It worked for Rob Schneider. Why not Dana Carvey?
The popular "Saturday Night Live" alum, largely out of the public eye since his heart surgery in 1997, will get a helping hand in reviving his career from A-lister (and fellow ex-"SNL" guy) Adam Sandler. Today's Daily Variety says Sandler will produce a Disney comedy that will both star and be co-written by Carvey.
The comedian, best known for yukking it up as shy Garth to Mike Myers' metal-head Wayne in the "Wayne's World" sketches and big-screen movies, is in talks with the studio, Sandler and producing partner Jack Giarraputo. They're the team responsible for Schneider's surprise holiday hit "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo."
Mum's the word on the plot for Carvey's starring vehicle. But he'll get some notice as a supporting player in Sandler's upcoming comedy "Little Nicky." And if "Deuce's" $64 million domestic gross is any indication, the former Church Lady might be taking up a healthy collection.
Carvey underwent an angioplasty procedure in October 1997, at age 42. It was the capper on a down period for the comic, who flamed out professionally in 1996 with the ill-fated run of his ABC primetime vehicle "The Dana Carvey Show."
CAUGHT IN 'TRAFFIC': Harrison Ford and Catherine Zeta-Jones don't mind being stuck in Steven Soderbergh's "Traffic."
Trade-paper reports today say that the two stars have climbed aboard the Fox vehicle, which was once in danger of being junked. It's now parked at the studio's arthouse division, Fox Searchlight.
Ford will play a judge who becomes a U.S. drug czar. The film's based on the British miniseries "Traffik." Things get complicated when the judge's daughter becomes a serious crack cocaine and heroin addict.
The film is Ford's first foray into arthouse filmmaking. According to Variety, the actor will take a major pay cut from his usual $20 million fee. Shooting is set to begin April 2.
GIRLS IN THE 'HOUSE': Actresses Diane Lane and Leelee Sobieski will square off as mother-daughter rivals in "The Glass House." Variety says that the Columbia-based drama starts shooting this spring with television's Daniel Sackheim at the helm.
The 17-year-old Sobieski, last seen strutting in "Eyes Wide Shut," will star as a teen-ager taken in by a Malibu, Calif., couple after her parents die in a car accident.
'MONKEY' BUSINESS FOR NBC: "Dharma & Greg" star Thomas Gibson will be paid $1.5 million to monkey around in NBC's latest Hallmark Entertainment miniseries. The four-hour project, called "The Monkey King," co-stars Bai Ling. Russell Wong is in negotiations to play the title role.
The story, by "M Butterfly" playwright David Henry Hwang, is about a young American businessman and an academic who journey to China to do battle with mythical monsters.