Those of you who regularly read this site will be fully aware that we've been fighting a losing battle against the minions of film publicity for some time. They've been hitting our website, leaving unpaid ads for their films, in the guise of 'fan testimonials' for months now, and no matter what emails we sent, phone calls we made and general stink we created, we were ignored - until the next 'testimonial' was left behind. Well a few weeks ago we busted the case wide open when we found out that two of these posts were made from mca.com - the home of Universal, distributors of Blue Crush and Red Dragon. With news of this finally hitting the mainstream press, we just received some inside info that puts this particular case on a whole new footing and names names. Read on...
The following email was received by us today, and though emails can often be of questionable validity, the person in question gave us contact details and is a verified former employee of the company in question. For the sake of the whistleblower's privacy, we shall not name them here, but we shall reprint what they told us.
In regards to your story on the fraudulent practices of Universal publicists... I used to work as an assistant to Universal producers Buffy Shutt and Kathy Jones. These two women are the former heads of film marketing at Universal Studios and they now have a producing deal at Universal with their company, Shutt/Jones Productions. As former directors of Universal's marketing department, these two are well-versed in all the dirty tricks employed by studios to publicize their movies. The reason this is relevant is that the new film, Blue Crush, the very film at the center of the fraudulent internet publicity scandal, is the first film produced by Shutt and Jones under their deal with Universal.
Shutt and Jones are executive producers on the film. It comes as no surprise that a film made by these two former heads of Universal marketing is the movie that is the source of accusations of unethical promotional tactics. If you are trying to find ground zero of this scandal, you need to look no further than the offices of Shutt/Jones Productions at Universal Studios.
Now, this leaves the can of worms way open, as this activity might well be taking places from the Universal offices, but without Universal's knowledge. Not that we particularly want to let Universal off the hook - there's been so many of their titles hyped on our website in this unethical manner that we really can't let them wash their hands of this, but if Shutt/Jones Productions ARE engaging in this practice from their Universal homebase, surely they need to be carpeted for their activites, and perhaps even investigated for corporate fraud. Making fake customer testimonials for a product you sell is not only unethical, it's downright criminal.
The information that our contact has outlined is all a matter of public record. Shutt and Jones did indeed head Universal marketing from 1996 to 1998, and Shutt/Jones Productions has a deal with Universal Studios and is behind Blue Crush. Both women who also are on the Board of Directors of Women in Film (http://wif.org/home/who/wifbd/), and Shutt has also been on the board of advisors of the publication Media Scope: Raising Awareness about Media and Society, which ironically enough, frequently tackles the issue of "ethics" in entertainment. (http://www.mediascope.org/pubs/summer.pdf)
So where does this leave you and me, the eager film fan? Well, if you're male and under 14, it leaves you saying "duh, bikini good" and buying a ticket to Blue Crush. For the rest of us, it leaves us shaking our heads collectively at how the Hollywood machine elects to treat us like sheep, and how far they'll go for a buck. When you give production deals to marketing shills, you get productions that rely on shill marketing to sell a ticket.
But is this really down to an errant production company on the Universal lot? Not likely, as the evidence below will show. We went through hundreds of old messageboard posts dating back to January this year, and found another two from MCA.com IP addresses.
Posted by cinelvr at (220.127.116.11) on Thursday, 6 June 2002, at 7:36:03 pm
If you guys haven’t already heard, the new movie with Matt Damon comes out on June 14. It’s called The Bourne Identity. It’s based on a thriller novel by Robert Ludlum. I checked out the trailer and saw some still pics of scenes from the movie on the website www.thebourneidentity.com. And I have to say that this movie looks really good. I love action movies. I also know it will be great because I love Matt Damon’s work… he’s really hot too! So if you guys want to find out more info on the movie, check out the site. Also, I’m interested in what you guys have to say about it. So get back to me when you get a chance
What a nice person, so interested in what we have to say. Sadly, the email address they left with their post bounced and they never again returned to our site. However, this next person, who undoubtedly talks to 'cinelvr' at the Universal Publicity water cooler, did.
Posted by filmfreak234 at (18.104.22.168) on Thursday, 30 May 2002, at 9:43:46 pm
lemme just say that i really can’t wait to see undercover brother…am i alone here? for one it looks hella funny, and two its got denise richards…you just can’t get much better than that combo!!!! anyway, apparently harry knowles thinks so too…you know, from aintitcool.com…he said it was the f***ing bomb. if you wanna see what he wrote check out www.aintitcoolnews.com and look for it on your own (I’m busy—ha ha!!!!). but yeah, i’m definitely stoked for this one…i liked i’m gonna get you sucka and i’m bettin this one’s gonna be way better…tell me if you agree
Another nice concerned film fan, although once more, the email address supplied doesn't work and the person never returned. Hmm... filmfreak234 and cinelvr... anyone notice any trend?
Well, there's one very distinct trend, and that's that both posts came from MCA.com. That's now FOUR faked cusomer testimonials from MCA.com on this website, and almost every film-oriented website out there with a messageboard will tell you they've received the EXACT same messages.
Where will it end? My guess is, right here. This is the last kind of thing a beleaguered company like Universal needs, especially as they lose money hand over fist, so it's likely they'll either stay schtum until the news has passed, or they'll deny all. Take note, Universal executives, we have the evidence that proves otherwise.
If you'd like to see our earlier report, complete with verbatim copies of other fraudulent customer testimonials, go to http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/hbs.cgi?feature=598
And if you have more inside information on how Hollywood works its eville ways, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
link directly to this feature at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/feature.php?feature=608
originally posted: 08/15/02 17:16:35
last updated: 08/15/02 19:20:57