Columnist out of a job after review of pirated ‘Wolverine’

by Steven Musil

Rupert Murdoch apparently wants his employees to know that he does not take piracy lightly–especially when it’s one of his movies that is being illegally downloaded.

So when Roger Friedman, an entertainment columnist with, a division of Murdoch’s News Corp. media giant, posted a short review of the forthcoming “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” he soon found himself out of work.

Friedman, who had had contributed to for 10 years, wrote Thursday in his Fox 411 column that downloading the unreleased superhero movie from the Internet was “so much easier than going out in the rain” and that it “exceeds expectations at every turn,” according to a report in Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood Daily. 20th Century Fox described the Friedman copy of the movie as a “stolen, incomplete and early version,” and Friedman’s review was removed from the site on Friday.

News Corp. said in a statement Sunday that the review promoted piracy by reviewing a pirated movie:

“Roger Friedman’s views in no way reflect the views of News Corporation. We, along with 20th Century Film Corporation, have been a consistent leader in the fight against piracy and have a zero tolerance for any action that encourages and promotes piracy. When we advised Fox News of the facts, they took immediate action, removed the post, and promptly terminated Mr. Friedman.”

Fox News apparently later decided to soften that message, issuing the following statement Monday regarding Friedman’s position with the company:

Fox News representatives and Roger Friedman met today and mutually agreed to part ways immediately. Fox News appreciates Mr. Friedman’s ten years of contributions to building and wishes him success in his future endeavors. Mr. Friedman is grateful to his colleagues for their friendship and support over the past decade.

The film, which reportedly cost $100 million to make, was not scheduled for theatrical release until May 1 but was leaked to the Web on Tuesday. A spokeswoman for the FBI’s Los Angeles field office told CNET News the bureau has opened an investigation into who released the incomplete movie onto the Web.

Courtesy CNET News.

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