AS YOU'VE READ this month, executives at Sony Pictures Entertainment shamefacedly admitted that they invented a fake movie reviewer, David Manning of Connecticut's Ridgefield Press, to gush over titles including Vertical Limit, A Knight's Tale, and The Animal. In fact, no such man exists; he was simply fabricated to provide effusive pull-quotes for studio advertising.
Which got us thinking—who is this Brian Miller?
His byline regularly appears in these pages, but no writer or editor remembers ever seeing him; he never attends staff meetings. Editor in chief Audrey Van Buskirk speculated that he might be the guy who empties the wastebaskets at night. We scoured our offices, yet no trace of the putative film editor could be found in any cubicle.
Likewise, no movie publicist we contacted could recall Miller ever attending a press screening—despite his reviews to the contrary. Said one, "He can't be bothered to write anything nice about Pearl Harbor—but just look at the stuff he praises."
Our archives agree. Reviewing Salt and Sand, a five-hour black-and-white documentary about Bedouin camel caravans (without subtitles), Miller wrote: "Hilarious! The first surefire comedy of the summer! Wonderful for the entire family!" Of Serment de Silence, a three-hour French drama about a convent of cloistered, mute octogenarian nuns who communicate only with their eyes, he opined: "A perfect date movie! Julia Roberts is terrific!" (Ms. Roberts does not appear in the movie.)
This pattern continues with the Iranian Why Has God Forsaken Me?, about a young woman shunned by her family, cast out of her village, then left to wander the hillsides in solitude until she starves. Miller wrote, "A rock 'em, sock 'em, pulse-pounding roller coaster of a movie! Great chemistry between Bruce Willis and Chris Rock!" (These actors do not perform in this film.)
We are forced to conclude that Brian Miller does not exist. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused our readers. And, really, Pearl Harbor isn't so bad.