Fox News movie reviewer fired for downloading film

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine stars Hugh Jackman.
Image: Photographer's Mate Airman Dennard Vinson, US Navy.

Editorial journalist Roger Friedman has lost his job at Fox News following a dispute with the company. Friedman admitted in a movie review late last week to having wached a bootlegged online video stream version of a partially-completed copy of the upcoming film X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation production. Friedman had worked for several years as a reviewer and media journalist for Fox News. While a press release from Fox says that the company and Friedman had "mutually agreed to part ways immediately", news articles report that he was fired.

Friedman's status had been ambiguous after an April 5 statement from Fox that Friedman had been fired was met by a response from the journalist that no action had been taken against him.

Friedman began his April 2 column, now removed from the Fox website, with: "Yes, I've seen 'X Men Origins: Wolverine.' It wasn't at a screening, either. I found a work in progress print of it, 95 percent completed, on the internet last night. Let's hope by now it's gone." Friedman went on to praise the ease and convenience of downloading, noting that the current box office top 10 were all available. "It's so much easier than going out in the rain!", he wrote.

In an exclusive statement to Wikinews, Pirate Party International's spokesperson Andrew Norton said: "Depending on the method he used to obtain the film, he may not have infringed copyright at all, just exercised legal fair use exceptions. When you add in the very positive review he gave the film, it makes you wonder why Fox acted as they did. The reason is painfully obvious, to 'send a message'. Alas the only message they send is that they don't care about facts, and let no-one stand in the way of their paranoid witch-hunt".

Website Ain't It Cool News editor "Beaks", meanwhile, responded to news of Fox's initial press release concerning Friedman's review on April 3 with "Friedman has admitted to breaking the law. If 20th Century Fox—and the FBI—are serious about nailing the perpetrator(s) of this leak, then Friedman must be fired immediately for downloading and reviewing stolen material. There's no wiggle room here."

The positivity of Friedman's review had led some commentators, Ain't It Cool News among them, to speculate that the leak of the work print of the film had been a deliberate act by 20th Century Fox.

The full-length workprint of the film, lacking some special effects and ten minutes of footage shot after principal photography, was leaked on March 31, 2009. While 20th Century Fox adds digital forensic markings to its workprints to trace leaked versions, so far the company has not identified any party as responsible for the leak.

X Men Origins: Wolverine, a prequel to the X-Men franchise of films, premieres in theaters in the United Kingdom on April 29, Australia and New Zealand on April 30, and the United States and Canada on May 1, 2009.


This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
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