Coming to an airport romance novel shelf near you?
Roger Friedman, critic/columnist for Fox News online, caused as big a stir as a film critic seems able to these difficult days when he posted a review of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” having illegally downloaded the leaked, unfinished version of the film. The internet immediately went into paroxyms of self-righteousness, with Ain’t It Cool News, among others, relishing in a chance to take the moral high ground by calling for Friedman’s termination.
Fox News, a separate entity from 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, the studio behind “Wolverine,” took down the review, and on Saturday Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood reported that Friedman had indeed been fired. Sharon Waxman at The Wrap noted, with a bit more insight, that Friedman seems to think that the fact that his review was positive would excuse the means by which he saw the film.
As a veteran of the world of hard-nosed publicity barter, Friedman probably figured he could squirm out of an uncomfortable situation by praising the film. Turns out Friedman was working out of an old playbook. The decision to terminate him was made over the weekend, a News Corp executive confirmed. “It’s a matter of principle,” said the executive.
Finke also updates, awesomely: “I did reach Friedman for comment. He emailed back only that he was at the Paul McCartney concert.” And ABC News claims that Friedman met with Fox executives this morning to plead his case.
If this is indeed the end of Friedman, well, I hate to see any film journalist lose a job, but his was by all accounts a spectacularly ill-advised move, both in terms of his position (admitting to pirating a film in your column! from a studio under your outlet’s corporate umbrella!) and from a journalistic standpoint — the film wasn’t finished and it wasn’t being offered for review, and so posting one isn’t ethical or useful. But it’s also exactly the kind of gun-jumping, link-grabbing act that will serve Friedman well when he inevitably has to start his own site, so I’m sure he’ll be fine either way.
+ EXCLUSIVE: Fox News Fires Showbiz Columnist For “Promoting” Piracy (Deadline Daily)
+ Fox.com’s Roger Friedman Does Himself In Over ‘Wolverine’ Review (The Wrap)
+ Fox Columnist Fighting for His Job (ABC News)