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Fox News has reportedly fired free-lance gossip columnist Roger Friedman after he downloaded and reviewed a stolen copy of X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Parent company News Corporation described Friedman’s actions as encouraging and promoting piracy.
In a column posted Thursday on the Fox News website, but since removed, Friedman boasted how easy it was to find the 20th Century Fox movie — and other current releases — online.
The work print apparently lacks finished special-effects shots and other material. No matter, though. Friedman loved it.
“Right now, my ‘cousins’ at 20th Century Fox are probably having apoplexy,” Friedman wrote. “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.”
Friedman certainly got the first part right: Executives at News Corp. sibling 20th Century Fox weren’t happy. In a statement, the studio said, “This behavior is reprehensible and we condemn this act categorically — whether the review is good or bad.”
Then came word last night from Hollywood-industry columnist Nikki Finke that News Corp. had dropped the ax on Friedman.
“Roger Friedman’s views in no way reflect the views of News Corporation,” the company said in a statement. “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. Once we learned of Roger Friedman’s post we asked Fox News to remove it, which they did immediately.”
Friedman had written his “Fox 411″ gossip column for the Fox News website for about a decade.
The FBI has begun its investigation into the film’s leak.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine opens on May 1.