HOLLYWOOD - Sony Pictures Entertainment settled a class action for $1.5 million today, ending a case that accused the studio of quoting a fake movie critic in ads. The suit claimed that Sony made up favorable quotes for ads of its films Hollow Man, The Patriot, and A Knight’s Tale and attributed them to a phony critic named "David Manning of the Ridgefield Press." One of the quotes called actor Heath Ledger “this year’s hottest new star!”
Sony issued a written statement denying that "it would ever betray the filmgoing public's trust by inventing a critic simply to have him or her praise Sony films." The statement concluded: "Sony refers all inquiries regarding the class action to its legal counsel, Barkely Givens."
A search revealed that no attorney by the name "Barkley Givens" is licensed to practice law in California, or anywhere else in the United States. When a reporter asked Sony if the attorney was a real person, Sony issued another statement denying that "it would ever betray the public's trust by inventing a lawyer simply to have him or her deny liability."
A reporter contacted the Ridgefield Press in Connecticut to inquire about the imaginary critic "David Manning." A man claiming to be David Manning answered the phone, and the reporter asked him if he had any thoughts on the class action lawsuit. Mr. Manning said: “The frontrunner for this year’s best case!" "A masterpiece! And, “I laughed my a _ _ off! Funny! Funny! Funny!”