Sony shells out $326K for bogus blurbs

Company vows not to run ads featuring employees

Sony Corp. has agreed to pay the state of Connecticut $326,000 for using bogus movie review blurbs attributed to a state newspaper in promoting several of its films last year.

Sony also said it will never again run ads in which Sony employees pose as ordinary moviegoers and praise films they have just seen.

“These deceptive ads deserve two thumbs down — and now are getting a third from Sony itself,” Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said in a statement. He went on to say, “Sony deserves credit for acting to prevent this type of deception” but noted “the whole industry may need a reality check. Deceptive ads, designed to lure moviegoers, have no legitimate place in the entertainment business.”

“We’re pleased to have the matter resolved,” a Sony spokeswoman said. She added that Sony ended the use of bogus review blurbs when the practice came to the attention of management last year.

Two Sony executives were suspended for a month after it was revealed they made up film critic “David Manning” of the Ridgefield Press and used quotes from his “reviews” to market films that included “A Knight’s Tale,” “Vertical Limit” and “Hollow Man.”

Sony, 20th Century Fox, Artisan Entertainment and Universal Pictures later admitted using employees or actors in TV commercials purporting to feature testimonials from moviegoers.

Sony made a similar settlement with the state of Oregon last August. It still faces a false-advertising lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court in June on behalf of moviegoers who saw films endorsed by the fictitious Manning.

(Variety wire services contributed to this report.)

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