FOR YEARS, REEL LIFE has been giving out Gary Awards to critics whose effusive blurbs enhance film ads. However, in November, one critic confided to us that a studio had faxed him several one-liners with the invi-tation to simply attach his name to the quote he liked best (Daily Variety, Nov. 4). Since then, other critics have echoed the claim, and two studio reps said this is standard procedure.All this time, the awards (named for former blurbmeister and all-around swell guy Gary Franklin) have been hon-oring reviewers; but perhaps it’s the studio publicists who came up with these quotable quotes. So here are the newest Gary Award winners, many of them representing organizations you’ve never heard of — but that’s a whole other story. You readers can study the quotes and decide for yourselves: Was it an original from the reviewer or supplied by the distributor? Whoever wrote these blurbs, take a bow. And please, ladies and gentlemen of the PR departments, don’t be shy: Step forward and claim your back prizes! FUNNY FUN Don Stotter, Entertainment Time-Out , “Carpool” — “Fun and funny!” Ron Brewington, American Urban Radio Network, “First Kid” — “Funny, real funny!” Bonnie Churchill, National News Service, “Larger Than Life” — “Funny, funny, funny!” Neil Rosen, NY1, “Multiplicity” — “Funny! Funny!! Funny!!! Funny!!!!” YOU MEAN EVER? Bonnie Churchill, National News Syndicate, “Jack” — “The funniest and best film you’ll see.” NOTES FROM SOLITARY CONFINEMENT Steve Oldfield, Fox TV, “Sling Blade” — “Billy Bob Thornton is the most powerful presence to hit the screen since the young Marlon Brando.” Nancy Mills, Mills Syndicate, “Larger Than Life” — “Matthew McConaughey is a comic genius!” THUMB CHUMS Siskel & Ebert, “Caught” — “Two thumbs up!” Siskel & Ebert, “The English Patient” — “Two big thumbs up.” Siskel & Ebert, “Breaking the Waves” —”Two enthusiastic thumbs up!” Siskel & Ebert, “Bound” — “Two very enthusiastic thumbs up!” Siskel & Ebert, “Basquiat” — “Two thumbs up, way up!” AND EXACTLY WHERE WOULD THAT FOURTH THUMB BE? Bill Carlson, WCCO-TV (CBS), “Fly Away Home” — “If I had four thumbs, they’d all be up.” GOVERNOR’S TROPHY Paul Wunder, WBAI Radio, “Phenomenon” — “One of the finest films you will see this year!” (July 7); “The Pro-prietor,” “One of the finest films of the year” (Oct. 6); “Last Man Standing,” “The action film of the year!” (Sept. 20); “Ransom,” “The edge-of-your-seat thriller of the year!” (Nov. 3). LIFETIME GARY AWARD To 20th Century Fox, for its originality and daring: The studio waged a campaign for “Independence Day” that did not use a single review quote until six weeks into the film’s run.
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