It seems one person has already fallen against Wolverine’s berserker rage: FOXNEWS.com’s Roger Friedman. The movie columnist set the blogosphere aflame last Thursday for his review of the leaked workprint of the upcoming film X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Some highlights from the now-erased review:
“Right now, my ‘cousins’ at 20th Century Fox are probably having apoplexy. 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. I was completely riveted to my desk chair in front of my computer.”
Yet the part that I think probably got him in trouble was when he explained that he will soon become the best there is at what he does — and what he does is pirating creative works, with the wide-eyed wonder of a child discovering the bigger world around them.
“I did find the whole top 10 [movies in theaters], plus TV shows, commercials, videos, everything, all streaming away. It took really less than seconds to start playing it all right onto my computer. I could have downloaded all of it but really, who has the time or the room? Later tonight I may finally catch up with Paul Rudd in I Love You, Man. It’s so much easier than going out in the rain!”
Yet despite his praise of the film, it has been reported that Friedman has gotten the adamantium axe. 20th Century Fox, which is tied into Fox News via one Rupert Murdoch, and they were not thrilled about the review:
“We’ve just been made aware that Roger Friedman, a freelance columnist who writes Fox 411 on Foxnews.com – an entirely separate company from 20th Century Fox — watched on the internet and reviewed a stolen and unfinished version of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. This behavior is reprehensible and we condemn this act categorically — whether the review is good or bad.”
Obviously, this was enough to ruffle enough feathers to take out even the strongest healing factor, as Nikki Finke later reported that Friedman had been fired from his freelance position after over a decade. Finke also reported that, in the eyes of Fox studio chiefs, Friedman’s review implicitly endorsed piracy.
News Corp.’s statement issued on Sunday reads:
“Roger Friedman’s views in no way reflect the views of News Corporation. We, along with 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, have been a consistent leader in the fight against piracy and have 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.”
Of course, with any and every matter such as this, there are about five sides to this story. Variety is reporting that Friedman has not been fired, based on word from Friedman himself, which counters Fox’s statement that he was “terminated.” When contacted by the trade, Fox News declined to discuss – or even further clarify – the matter, saying through a spokesperson: “This is an internal matter that we’re not prepared to discuss at this time.” Friedman has also denied to ABC News that he was fired over the review.
If anything, the back and forth seems to shoot down the notion held by some of the more cynical fans that the leak itself was no more than a viral marketing plan by Fox, albeit one now gone horribly awry.