Outside the Theater

FINAL UPDATE: Fox News Columnist Roger Friedman Reportedly Fired for 'Wolverine' Review

Well, that was fast...

FINAL UPDATE: Official word from Fox News has come in and reads as follows:

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 foxnews.com and wishes him success in his future endeavors. Mr. Friedman is grateful to his colleagues for their friendship and support over the past decade.

UPDATE: In a fantastic example of why I used the word "Reportedly" in my headline when I first posted it, Roger Friedman told Daily Variety that he had not been let go and Fox News issued a statement Sunday afternoon saying, "This is an internal matter that we're not prepared to discuss at this time."

This is a story tailor made for NIkki Finke's Deadline Hollywood blog as just about every movie news site around the web reported on FoxNews.com's freelance columnist Roger Friedman and his review of the leaked X-Men Origins: Wolverine on his Fox 411 blog. I covered the story last night and asked in my headline "How is Fox News’ Roger Friedman Not Fined for Reviewing Wolverine?" and while I was just spit-balling when I mentioned "fined" since I am not a lawyer it appears things are a bit worse for the online journalist.

Finke reports News Corp has fired Friedman for what they "felt was a blatant promotion of piracy." Finke keys in on the following statement from Friedman's post, which has since been deleted:

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!

I feel as if I can see the future as I wrote last night:

Toward the end of his article Friedman writes, “[Obviously] someone who had access to a print uploaded the film onto this website. This begs several questions about security. Time to round up the usual suspects!”

Begs is right, and I would start by making sure Friedman is tagged by security and no longer allowed in the Fox News building. That’s one suspect out of the way.

This move only makes sense as Friedman was essentially promoting online movie piracy and at the same time admitting he had taken part in the illegal activity. Personally I think he is getting off easy, since I would assume the authorities could look at the entire article as a confession of guilt.

Finke quotes an unnamed source at the end of her report as saying, "He promoted piracy. He basically suggested that viewing a stolen film is OK, which is absolutely intolerable. So we fired him. Fox News acted promptly on all fronts."

This comes on the heels of another statement I received this morning from News Corp, which read as follows:

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. Once we learned of Roger Friedman's post we asked Fox News to remove it, which they did immediately.

It appears they removed more than just the post.

Thanks for Reading! Join the Community!
Support the Site! Make it Faster! No Ads!

Your support goes a long way in ensuring RopeofSilicon.com stays stable. For less than the price of one small popcorn, you can can help support RopeofSilicon and, in turn, visit the site every day without ads! Including this one!

Subscribe Now!

  • lawhs89

    All he was doing was stating the obvious, pirating is everywhere, and it can't be stopped. Some people just hate the whole movie going experience, the cost, the people, ect. Movies like "Taken" where everywhere before it was released here, but it still did well.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/blog/brad_brevet/ Brad Brevet

    @lawhs89: If you hate the movie going experience the solution is DVD, not theft. I am baffled how anyone could actually believe there is anything right to piracy. Yeah, it's everywhere, but that doesn't make it right.

  • dan g

    Now unless the FBI wants to join the hypocrite list.... Roger has to be prosecuted and go to jail like all the other pirates.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/blog/brad_brevet/ Brad Brevet

    @dan g: I have no idea what exactly the law is here, but I don't believe this is something he could be jailed for, which is why I wrote my original headline using "fined" instead, but even that I don't think is possible since it seems he just watched it online and didn't download or disseminate it to others. I would assume there are the different offenses from watching it, taking it to distributing it, all of which would come with varying degrees of penalties such as: slap on the wrist, fine and heftier fine and jail depending on how much someone is distributing.

    In this case I don't think there is anything that could or really should be done. It sounds to me like he has already lost enough.

  • fella

    Jailing someone for watching a pirated movie? Please people, have some perspective. I can understand going after the uploaders & promoters like this Friedman idiot but I don't think we even have enough jails to fit just the 75,000 that downloaded it the first day let alone all. If you ask me this is just natures way of balancing the ridiculous sums of money that the industry is raking in. Like $20 million for acting in one movie? Considering the cost to make DVDs versus the cost to make VHS you would think they'd be cheaper but not so. Same goes for the music industry. Video games are on the same path and I would venture to say that it won't be long before they suffer the same consequences. For every action there is an equal opposite reaction.

  • Josh (Go UNC and Lakers!!!!)

    I think this is well deserved and hopefully a message to everyone that this is just not right. i remember transformers was online at 2 a.m the friday morning it came out (from midnight screenings) and i came across a link and didnt click on it because its more fun to see movies in the theater and i agree with brad if you dont like going to the movies then do dvd because this is stealing and this is not fair and right to all the people who worked very hard on a movie they are passionate about. but let me ask this question to people who dont think of this as a big deal........would you let someone see your book or movie you worked on so hard before it was fully done and ready to then be bashed on the internet and maybe lose money from it?

  • Jake

    So what that one guy saw a movie for free? That big Hollywood people make too much money anyway. Why the hell do they need another $10 for?

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/blog/brad_brevet/ Brad Brevet

    @Jake: So they can make more movies for you to complain about and steal.

  • Garrett

    @Jake: You seem to be completely ignorant to exactly how much it costs to make a movie.

  • fella

    I will concede that many have labored passionately in any given artistic endeavor such as film; however, paying a well known actor 10 to 20 million is excessive no matter how much sweat dripped from his/her brow. In the case of Wolverine, most of the criticism is coming from it's target audience so, if anything, they should be thankful for the feedback. In Jake's defense, not one of those contributors lost any money as they were already compensated prior to it's (pre)release so the real losers are the studios and theaters. Both of which, in my opinion, have been gouging the typical movie goer for far too long. Look at Titanic, Matrix, and Star Wars... people went to see those movies in theaters several times and then bought the VHS or DVD in some cases both. If the criticism was actually praise would we be having this issue? If the greedy bastards could see past their wallets and they just put the workprint up themselves maybe they could actually benefit. This could be a win win if they wanted but instead they call the FBI as if it's classified information that is vital to national security.

  • Patricia

    Brad Brevett, Crime Reporter! Who ever thought the day would come? I agreed with everything you had to say, Brad, on both your original post and then here again on the follow up. How someone who calls themselves a film critic could participate in film piracy is just stunning. And then to be so casual about it.

    The "everyone is doing it" excuse I read here in the comments is just so lame and juvenile. You know this is not people without the funds to lay out a few bucks to go to the threatre that are stealing, but usually people with expensive software and hardware doing it as a challenge, or just because they can. And what do they get for it? For all their outlay on equipment, they get poor quality on a comparably teeny screen with sound heard on relatively crappy speakers.

    And the comment that film makers need to see past their wallets is just ludricrous. Movies are a profit based venture.They are not some altuistic, art for art sakes, venture. Is someone being forced to go to see a movie or buy a DVD? Don't blame the industry for your own compulsions. If you're so into films, I'd think you'd be more supportive of the industry's ability to prosper. If someone is truly interested in seeing early releases so that they can critique them, make the effort to become a member of test audiences.

    In a related matter, there was some talk a few years ago about movies eventually being released in all formats at the same time: DVD, Blu-ray, theatrically. But that talk seems to have dried up.

  • lawhs89

    Not saying it's right. I guess I am trying to say this is no different from what has been going on the music business for years. And they have done a poor job reacting. Still cost $15-$18 bucks for most CD's, and artiest like Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead are happy to get rid on the labels and sell there music cheap or even free.

    Basically, just trying to say Brad it's not right, but we are used to it, and therefore not as outraged as you are.

  • amused

    Earlier poster: "I can understand going after the uploaders & promoters like this Friedman idiot but I don’t think we even have enough jails to fit just the 75,000 that downloaded it the first day let alone all."

    Indeed. But how about if we went after everyone who had an online ad with the website making the pirated content available? The main reason it was pirated was so someone could collect eyeballs. The reason you want eyeballs often gets down to ad rates. And we're back to greed as a prime motivator. So if you are an advertiser appearing on a site with pirated content of any sort, you're benefitting.

    Kind of makes the whole thing an informal conspiracy, doesn't it?

  • ash

    Freidman was fired for his stupidity of reviewing a pirated movie, not for watching or promoting a pirated movie.

    He didn't break any laws by watching that movie (now don't even get me started on piracy laws, all eyes on the Piratebay case btw).

    Being a bigshot reviewr of a top brass column, he should know that reviewing a leaked Wolverine copy would get his ass booted.

    PS: I'm not an advocate of torrenting and downloading movies... i personally buy every single movie. Just saying that Friedman was fired for his idiocy, not for breaking the law.

  • Jake

    Doesn't it bother you guys that cops and firefighters make less than 75,000/a year. While these rich Hollywood people make millions and millions.

    While I make 35,000 a year working my ass off to support a wife and 3 kids, these Hollywood people are complaining that some people aren't paying the ten bucks they are supposed to, to stare at a screen.

    I'm a pirate, and I don't care. So what? So what that Leonardo DiCaprio would be able to buy his third yacht because I watch movies for free. So What? So what that Woody Allen would be able to buy his second house in Barcelona, so what? Should I feel bad for them? They are overpaid anyways.

  • King Ralph

    Are you serious Jake? You really think the actors are the only ones that have anything to do with the making of a film ? That they are the only ones that have anything riding on said film . Plenty of people that work on movies that make less than you . Very foolish statement sir

  • junjun

    There are plenty of people that work in making movies that don't make millions. Many nowadays are blind and all they see are the 25million Tom Hanks, Johnny Depp, Spielberg, Bruckheimer, and the like makes. The set decorators, carpenters, caterers, and the like make less than 40K and even 30K. Yes, Tom hanks and the rest of the uber-producers won't be hurting, but all those names in small print that scroll during the credits sequence are the ones that will be affected.

  • Rod

    If there's something that gets in my nerves is people who complain on what others make. Yes, it is messed up that athletes and actors make more than teachers, cops, and firefighters, but you know what, that's life. Deal with the hand you are dealt with. Whining about what other people make serves you nothing. Who's fault is it that you can't hit a baseball 500ft, dunk a basketball, sing with a heavenly voice, or act. For the record, I make 36k a year.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/blog/brad_brevet/ Brad Brevet

    @fella, @lawhs89, @Jake: I'm seeing what really boils down to a lot of jealousy here, and that $10 for a movie doesn't just go to what you consider to be an overpaid actor. I am sure there are people working behind the scenes of a film that also make $35k a year and support a family. The ticket price pays them too. Tickets pay for marketing so you know a movie is coming out. Ticket prices made up the nearly $73 million Fast and Furious made this weekend and will in turn pay back the investment made by all involved.

    Look at Watchmen, a film that has now made $105 million domestically and $172 million worldwide. With an approximate $150 million production budget, on a film with pretty much no name actors the actor's salaries don't even fit into your argument. It costs a lot of money to make a movie and to ignore the fact it is happening or find some way to make an excuse for it is silly.

  • fella

    Fine keep your "ludicrous" blinders on and go support your local "set directors and caterers" by paying 10 bucks for a paper bag of popcorn while the rest of us "deal with the hand we're delt" by watching our "teeny screens" with "crappy speakers." One day we'll realize how horribly wrong we are about poor Hollywood and go to confession or turn ourselves in to the FBI. Then the world can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/blog/brad_brevet/ Brad Brevet

    @fella: Why exactly are you visiting a movie based website if you hate movies so much? You must just sit and seethe at the screen while watching any movie, hating everyone involved.

  • fella

    When did I or anyone say or imply that we hate movies or anyone involved?

    If my points in this debate offend you then say the word and I'll be on my way. Attacking me personally only proves you have no legitimate response. Forgive my intrusion.

  • Patricia

    @fella: Oh grow up! If what you have to say has validity, then defend it in an intelligent manner. It's called a debate: a civil, mature exchange of argument. Don't take you ball and go home because you don't think you're "winning."

    I'm one of those folks who throws some of their hard earned money into the till to see a good movie. Let them earn whatever the market will allow. I like good film making and want filmmakers to know that there's money in it if they produce them.

    Jake:
    I'd love to hear from a fire fighter or a police officer concerning this debate about wages. I'm a school teacher. I don't earn a fortune but I support my family, and more importantly, I love my job. I did not choose my field because I thought I'd be sailing on a yacht in the Caribbean one day. It doesn't bother me a bit that others are earning millions working in their own chosen fields. If people are bitter about their own life style or income, do something about it. You woudn't be an iota better off if Tom Hanks suddenly had to live in a walkup.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/blog/brad_brevet/ Brad Brevet

    @fella: To steal movies is to imply you don't want anymore made, because if movies don't make money then there is no money to make more. Your logic is obviously to look at the industry thinking other people will pay their way to see a movie and thus more will be made while you sit home and steal them. It's hard for me to believe someone who willingly participates in pirating movies actually likes them since you are supporting something that could theoretically take down the industry.

    Will movie piracy actually cause Hollywood to close its doors? No, but that doesn't mean it is right or justified no matter your excuse.

    You never said you hate movies or anyone involved but your words and actions imply it.

  • Max

    Brad, anyone can make a film and get it out there now. Same with music, and more people will realise this eventually. It isn't a case of "what should we do with the evil pirates?" is it? It's more like "how does the industry change its model to continue playing the money game successfully?". We can't reverse pirating anymore, its gotten to a point where it doesn't matter whether you're for or against it. The point that piracy will kill film is quite poorly thought out as well, film will always be around and has the potential to be more prominent than ever through the internet, there is no way it would die, only the systems that go with funding and distributing it, they clearly need to change.

    By the way, someone was talking about prison before and needless to say there is no right or wrong things here, in my eyes to imprison someone for not playing the money game would paint a bad picture of our 'rights', it doesn't send the message of "You better stop stealing films", it sends the message that "How dare you not embrace our concepts of living, how dare you question the idea of paying for your entertainment, you must now go to prison as you are clearly a harm to our society". But if it did happen though, I'm sure not enough people would call that way of thinking inhumane...

    Also, you question someones love of film if they pirate (or fella anyway). There are plenty of different reasons to pirate but common ones are that they have a love for cinema but not the money to properly fund that interest, or perhaps obscure films not sold or screened in the country. This is not always the case obviously, but I don't think your interest or appreciation in cinema could be determined through the way it is watched or 'bought'.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/blog/brad_brevet/ Brad Brevet

    @Max: I know you spent a lot of time writing that up, and I apologize for such a short response, but I basically disagree with everything you said. There are plenty of things I can't afford, but I don't steal them as a result.

    And I will say it one more time, just because piracy is out there does not make it right.

  • aweandrew

    that is awesome!

  • fella

    Resorting to personal attacks is not "a civil, mature exchange of argument." In fact that is the real sign of not winning and was my point.

    James Cameron had to put up his own money to finish Titanic because the studio wouldn't and he was smart enough to do so in exchange for more rights for the movie. I applaud him and am happy he made out. This proves that the majority of capitol raised from movies does not go toward future movies. It goes in their pockets. My logic is not that others will pay so it's Ok. I'm saying that a few million a year loss to the studios and theaters is karmic justice.

    You contradict yourself twice first when you say a person watching movies online doesn't like them. If they didn't like them they wouldn't take the risk to watch them. Second when you say it could theoretically take down the industry but then admit that it will not close it's doors. What's the difference?

    After Cameron made that enormous sum of money he hasn't made any new flicks other than documentaries which is disappointing because he's one of the top directors. Half of Hollywood's actors (especially the young ones) are self destructive because they don't know what to do with all that money. The bottom line is flooding this market with excess cash has proven to be detrimental.

    This leads me back to my original argument that this is the inevitable balancing that has already taken place in the music industry and will probably happen to the video game industry as well. Whenever demand is balanced to supply the prices inevitably reduce. It happened with cell phones, computers, etc. It's natural capitalistic Yin and Yang.

  • Max

    @Brad Brevet: I respect your right to completely disagee but I don't wish to be fined, fired or imprisoned BECAUSE we disagree ;p and over something with no facts therefore no possible conclusion, too.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/blog/brad_brevet/ Brad Brevet

    @fella: There is no contradiction... People seek out movies on the Internet simply to get things for free. You and I obviously disagree completely since you support stealing and I do not, therefore there is no sense in continuing this discussion as it is going nowhere.

  • fella

    Now who's taking their proverbial ball and going home?

  • Patricia

    @fella: Whether Cameron makes another movie or not, the lure of profits is what provides an incentive for others who follow after him. Why he stopped working is unfathomable to us. Personally, I like seeing new viewpoints and new perspective from new film makers, anyway. But really all of that is beside the point.

    The reason some filmmakers make a tremendous amount of money is NOT because they arbitrarily gouge individual viewers but because so many people pay to see their film. And to compare film piracy with music piracy is not an accurate comparison. People who write and perform music get paid to perform that music. Sometimes on recordings, sometimes live. The music industry is beginning to understand that if their recorded music is less profitable, that it nevertheless drives up demand for their music (past, present & future) and the profits on live performance.

    But film has no substitute venue, just different viewing devices. I agree with Brad that people are just justifying bad practice. If we use your example of James Cameron, what if his film was downloaded so much that he received no compensation for his work? Not only would he be forced to quit but who would want to follow him? Filmmakers take a tremendous risk. Slumdog Millionaire was fully expecting to go right to DVD after showing in India. But from that risk we have a remarkable film and a new generation of people who saw it and said, that's what I want to do.

    And please, don't even infer that piracy will help the mental health of young actors by giving them less money "to know what to do with." That argument only shows that you are grasping at straws.

  • fella

    @Patricia: PS I AM a firefighter and I live in a walk up. This is the market changing it's allowance so when you throw less money into that till soon, you're welcome.

  • fella

    The lure of profits is what provides incentive? You should or probably already do work for a studio if you really believe that. The incentive, in my view, is artistic creation. Ask George Lucas if he made Star Wars because he thought it would be profitable. I'm sure Coppola made Godfather for the same reason. Look up Zoatrope. It might enlighten you as to why the best directors at the time left their respective studios to start their own company. Greed is NOT good. Gecko was wrong. (Wallstreet in case you're not familiar)

  • Tyrone

    Atisctic creation?!? Except for probably Pixar, Scorcese, and a few filmmakers, that is rarely seen nowadays. There is nothing artistically creative that has gone out of Lucas' mind nowadays imho (SW prequels, Indy IV). Natalie Portman herself was asked after the release of the 3rd prequel what she thought of the writing in the prequels given how the dialogue pretty much redefined "wooden" and "cringe-worthy," and she just shrugged and says she takes the 5th.

  • Pete

    Hollywood would be out of business if their purpose is all about "artistic creation." The biggest moneymakers of all time hardly passes as artistic masterpieces.

  • Olly

    Personally, there's no justification in my book in cheating a person, company, industry and what not. Whether it be cheating them out of millions, thousands, a 10 dollar movie ticket, a 1 dollar music download, or even a 50cent pack of gum. I've seen this banter on many boards and the primariy justification for such activity it seems, is that people feel they are being ripped off because of high prices, and also because "Actors make a ton anyways, why do they need my 10 dollars."

    These people don't see that they are not hurting the actors the least bit with their actions. If you really want to hurt them, here's a thought, Don't Go To Their Movies, Don't watch their TV shows, and Don't buy products that they may endorse. Oh, and if DVD's and Movie Tickets are expensive, here's a thought, Don't buy em and Don't watch em. But you know what, you people can't find it in you to do so. You guys will get on a soapbox one day and say "I'm done with hollywood," but when the next blockbuster opens next weekend, you people are among the masses that go watch.

  • Patricia

    This discussion seems to have degenerated into nonsense. Of course profits are important to Hollywood, Bollywood, and every 'wood inbetween. "OK, guys I know you electricians, haulers, caterers, make up artists, costumers, camera people, script writers, assistants, assistants to the assistants, and actors are here only art, but I have bad news for you. you're getting paid."

    As for there being no art. We're back to the discussion about who is making movies. Yes, Olly, all we have to do if we want to protest is to not watch. There is SO MUCH OUT THERE. So much variety, so much creativity, so many surprises. Don't settle for the mundane and repetitious. And when you find something worth seeing, DON'T STEAL IT. Make sure the creative people who have given of their time, talent, and money earn wages that recognize their contribution.

  • Tom Storm

    This News Corp. fiasco would never have happened if Big Pete Chernin was still active on the job. I don't agree with pirating movies - but it seems to me Roger Friedman did nothing that the New York Post wouldn't do...he shares their dirt digging culture. Roger Ailes is a fighter - he protects his people from the honcho's at News Corp. including Rupe...who despises Bill O'Reilly.

    Also, in the original Variety article (this morning )describing the whirling dervishes of News Corp., the writer stated that relations between Murdoch and Ailes were 'strained.' Later edition altered the message to read - Ailes had strained relations with 'other News Corp. execs.' Which is true. Pandora's Box has been pried open. No?

  • kassiopeia

    @fella: "Video games are on the same path and I would venture to say that it won’t be long before they suffer the same consequences." Yes piracy is "wrong", but some would say that the reason the Sony Playstation kicked the a** of every other console of the late 90s is because you could pirate the games as they were on discs rather than cartridges, and if you buy a console for that reason then you're going to be buying legit games too.

    In the same way, there are musicians and film makers that I first encountered on pirated material - and would never have listened to/paid to see at the cinema - but who's back catalogues I have subsequently legally bought, ultimately benefitting the artist in the long run. If the product is good enough, people will be prepared to pay for it. If it's "Catwoman" they'll snap up a copy at a car boot sale, then use it as a coaster....

  • Nestor Murdoch

    I read your quote in Variety's column. "...squelch the existence of"? What is that supposed to mean? How do you squelch the existence of something?

  • http://www.greenstoreandmore.com Green Fox

    I've been hoping that Roger Friedman would get fired for years. Although, I am surprised it is over something so stupid, but what can you do? This is the same guy who put Valkyrie on his worst movies of 2008 list before he ever saw it. He was a hack, and I personally hope he never works in the media again.

  • mrogi

    Why is the FBI involved in a copyright infringement case? This is at best a civil matter. Let 20th Century Fox sue the person who leaked the movie. I want my FBI to pursue terrorists; not illegal movie uploads. What's next? Will the FBI divert valuable investigative resources if a porn movie is leaked before its official release date?

  • jianmei4

    Why is the FBI involved in a copyright infringement case? This is at best a civil matter. Let 20th Century Fox sue the person who leaked the movie. I want my FBI to pursue terrorists; not illegal movie uploads. What's next? Will the FBI divert valuable investigative resources if a porn movie is leaked before its official release date?