Blockbuster At Sony

Sony Pictures suspended Thursday two employees without pay for one month for their alleged role in the scandal over a manufactured movie critic who provided fictional quotes on four Sony movies.

Sony did not identify the two employees, but four sources familiar with the investigation said the senior executive is Josh Goldstine, Sony's senior executive vice president for advertising. Goldstine did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment. A studio spokeswoman declined comment.

In a statement, Sony said it is "sanctioning the two advertising executives: one for his actions and the other for actions that occurred within the department he supervises." The studio also said it is creating "a new system of checks and balances involving both the publicity and advertising ensure the accuracy of quotes contained in future advertising campaigns and to prevent this from happening again."

Challenged last week by Newsweek over the authenticity of critic David Manning of The Ridgefield Press, a Connecticut weekly, Sony admitted it had invented the critic, attaching favorable quotes attributed to him on advertisements for Sony's "Hollow Man," "Vertical Limit," "A Knight's Tale" and "The Animal."

According to people familiar with the investigation, the lower-level employee who also was suspended was asked to provide a name to attach to a quote concocted by Sony's advertising department. The employee used the name David Manning, who was an acquaintance of the employee while they were both attending the University of Southern California.

The attorney general of Connecticut said Tuesday he is launching an investigation into Sony's conduct.