When Columbia Pictures was exposed as having created the fake movie critic David Manning, many moviegoers were appalled at the studios ruthlessness to get a good quote. Many media watchdogs were also surprised, but only at the fact that Columbia Pictures was willing to do something as dangerous as completely making a person up when they could just use the legions of quote whores to advertise their film.
Most legitimate film critics in the print media, such as Roger Ebert and Michael Wilmington, don’t release advance copies of their reviews. This means that the studios can’t usually get quotes from legitimate critics until after the Friday the movie has opened. Studios need to spread positive word before the movie opens, so typically the first people to see a movie are those on the press junket.
A studio cannot afford to send every movie’s stars to all of the country’s smaller media markets in order to drum up publicity for their film, so it will get all of the reporters fly out to them. The studio will set up a junket in Los Angeles and pay for many television, radio and print reporters to fly out there and set them up at a posh hotel, usually with lavish meals, expense accounts, and a free minibar. These reporters are usually from small local TV affiliates and “news” programs of dubious distinction, such as Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight. The actors and the director (if he is famous enough) are then locked in a little room where the reporters come in one at a time. Each reporter is usually granted five minutes alone with the stars and asks questions from a list of pre-approved topics. These “interviews” will be taped for broadcast back home and will be hyped as “Our own Bill Quoteslut gets inside dirt from the stars of the new hit movie Ethnic Mismatch Comedy #442!!”
After the “interviews” are complete, the movie is screened for the reporters. After the movie is over, the reporters are usually approached by a studio PR rep that asks them “Does anybody want to give us a quote?” The reporters understand that the quote is their payment for the weekend they just spent and for the access they were granted. So naturally their assessment of the film must be as positive and over the top as possible, or else they won’t be allowed to feed from the studio trough anymore.
In my years of checking movie ads, the dirtiest of the quote whores are easy to spot. Paul Wunder of WBAI radio. Jeff Craig of Sixty Second Preview (who actually doesn’t even see the movie, just provides quotes) and Pat Collins of WWOR-TV. But the most egregious offender of them all has to be Ron Brewington of the American Urban Radio Networks. You’ve probably never heard of Brewington or his syndicate, no one in the business can really say whether he even actually reviews the films at all. I’ve never been able to find a copy of one of his reviews and he does not return phone calls. No one has ever been able to get an interview with him, but the studios never seem to have a problem getting a hold of him for a quote.
A collection of choice Ron Brewington quotes:
”A real treat for the entire family!” – Free Willy 3
“An unrelenting thrill ride that takes it to the limits!” – Desperate Measures
“Absolutely hilarious!” – Scary Movie 2
“WOW! An amazing achievement!” – Armageddon
“A real heavy hitter” – Deep Impact
"A first-rate romantic comedy, with loads and loads of laughs. Tom Cruise has it goin' on!" - Jerry Maguire
"Total spine-tingling excitement! An unbelievably powerful film!” - Air Force One
“A most extraordinary film! An unforgettable adventure!” – The Postman
An award should also go to Maria Salas of GEMS-TV (what the fuck is GEMS-TV??):
”Battlefield Earth will rock America”
”187 is the most powerful film of the decade”
”Deep Blue Sea is the most terrifying film of the decade”
”Paradise is one of the best films of the decade”
”Notting Hill is the most romantic comedy of the decade”
Moral of the story people: Don’t listen to the Infotainment-Industrial Complex. Think for yourself.