David Manning (fictitious writer)

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David Manning (sometimes "Dave") was a pseudonym used by a marketing executive working for Sony Corporation around July 2000 to give consistently good reviews for releases from Sony subsidiary Columbia Pictures. Several fictional review quotes attributed to "David Manning" were used in the promotion of medieval action/drama A Knight's Tale (describing Heath Ledger as "this year's hottest new star!") and Rob Schneider's comedy The Animal ("Another winner!"),[1] the latter of which generally received very poor reviews by real critics.

Details[edit]

Manning was named after a friend of Matthew Cramer, the Sony marketing executive responsible for the insertions. Manning was credited to The Ridgefield Press, a small Connecticut weekly. During an investigation into Manning's quotes, Newsweek reporter John Horn discovered that the newspaper had never heard of him.[1] The story emerged at around the same time as an announcement that Sony had used employees posing as moviegoers in television commercials to praise Mel Gibson's The Patriot. These occurrences, in tandem, raised questions and controversy about ethics in movie marketing practices.

On June 10, 2001, the episode of Le Show, host Harry Shearer conducted an in-studio interview with David Manning. The voice of Manning was provided by a computer voice synthesizer.[2]

On August 3, 2005, Sony made an out-of-court settlement and agreed to refund $5 each to dissatisfied customers who saw Hollow Man, The Animal, The Patriot, A Knight's Tale, or Vertical Limit in American theatres, as a result of Manning's reviews.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Horn, John (June 2, 2001). "The Reviewer Who Wasn't There". Newsweek.
  2. ^ Shearer, Harry (June 10, 2001). "le Show". HarryShearer.com. Retrieved January 5, 2009. 
  3. ^ "Sony to pay $1.5m for film hoax," Irish Independent, August 5, 2005.

External links[edit]