LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Columnist Roger Friedman is out at FoxNews.com after reviewing an illegally downloaded copy of Fox’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” last week.
Friedman, who wrote the Fox411 column for FoxNews.com, met with Fox News executives Monday. Following the meeting, the company issued a statement saying the parties had “mutually agreed to part ways immediately.”
Friedman could not be immediately reached for comment.
By admitting to having downloaded the film, which doesn’t arrive in theaters until May 1, Friedman earned a big thumbs-down from News Corp., Fox News’ parent company.
The trouble began Tuesday when an illicit copy of the film made its debut onto the Web. Fox immediately condemned the theft and copying of an unfinished workprint of the film and enlisted the FBI and the Motion Picture Assn. of America to track down the perpetrators.
Downloading a copy of the film himself, Friedman wrote a positive review that appeared in his Fox411 column Thursday.
“I doubt anyone else has seen this film. But everyone can relax. I am, in fact, amazed about how great “Wolverine” turned out. It exceeds expectations at every turn,” he wrote.
But he also described how easy it is to download any film or TV show and joked he might decide to catch up on some other recent films via illegal downloads.
Fox — pointing that out Fox News is a separate business under the News Corp. banner — responded Friday, “This behavior is reprehensible and we condemn this act categorically, whether the review is good or bad.”
Parent News Corp. issued its own condemnation, saying, “Roger Friedman’s views in no way reflect the views of News Corp.,” and adding, “Once we learned of Roger Friedman’s post, we asked Fox News to remove it, which they did immediately.”
After word began to circulate late Saturday that Friedman had been removed as well, News Corp. amended its statement, adding that Fox News had “promptly terminated Mr. Friedman.”
But the columnist’s status still appeared unclear Sunday afternoon.
Friedman would not comment except to say, “Reports of my death have been extremely exaggerated.”
“This is an internal matter that we are not prepared to discuss at this time,” a Fox News spokesperson said, leaving the entire matter in question.
Twenty-four hours later, Fox News and Friedman had gone their separate ways.
Editing by Dean Goodman at Reuters