Art and Entertainment

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"Wolverine" actor Hugh Jackman.

Fox News Pounces on “Wolverine” Reviewer

April 08, 2009 10:30 AM
by Rachel Balik
Fox News fired blogger Roger Friedman after he wrote a review of a pirated version of the new “Wolverine” movie, produced by sister company 20th Century Fox.

Roger Friedman Allegedly Fired Over Review

News Corp, the owner of Fox News, announced on Sunday that Fox 411 online columnist Roger Friedman had been fired after he posted a movie review of a pirated, incomplete version of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” on Thursday, April 2.

Most pundits say that Friedman should have known better than to write a review of the pirated version of the much-hyped movie, scheduled for release on May 1. Friedman is a freelancer for Fox News and the movie is produced by 20th Century Fox. While the companies are not directly affiliated, they are both owned by News Corp. News Corp stated on Saturday that Friedman had been fired, although Variety reported that as of Sunday, his termination had not been officially confirmed, and Fox News refused to discuss the matter.

Fan sites had already reacted negatively to the piracy, condemning the illegality of the download, the unfairness of judging the movie based on its workprint and the potential leakage of too many spoilers. When the review was released, several blogs called for Friedman’s dismissal.
In his review, Friedman seemed to endorse illegal movie downloading, says Nikki Finke of Deadline Hollywood Daily. In addition to writing a positive review of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” he noted other movies available for download and suggested that watching them at home would be easier than going out. Finke wonders, “how could he not have known that his writings Friday would hit a nerve with his employers?”

Infused with celebrity gossip and insider information, Friedman’s column was one of the biggest traffic draws for the Fox News Web site. He frequently incurred criticism from the industry.

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Background: Will “Wolverine” damage control be successful?

While Friedman was accused of making a plug for illegal downloading, New York magazine’s Vulture blog displays eight snapshots from the pirated version that demonstrate why it might be better to wait for the movie to hit theaters. The pirated version apparently includes several incomplete effects; safety harnesses and stunt doubles are clearly visible.

The Los Angeles Times geek blog Hero Complex says that even before the illegal download scandal, the film was already under a cloud. Rumors indicated that some scenes had to be reshot at a late stage in production. The movie’s star, Hugh Jackman, is extremely popular, and has made considerable efforts to promote the film. However, the blogger argues, there are several other fan-favorite films jockeying for summer blockbuster box office, and disappointment about the last “X-Men” movie still lingers.

Even before Friedman’s review was posted, 20th Century Fox enlisted the help of the FBI to find out who illegally uploaded the movie. CNET reports that the FBI will probably be able to use the same forensic technique that they used to track the man who leaked “The Hulk” in 2003, although there are currently no suspects.

Related Topic: New Swedish File-Sharing Law Decreases Internet Traffic

After Sweden put into place anti-piracy laws on April 1, 2009, Internet traffic in the country decreased by 40 percent. The law requires Internet Service Providers to turn over IP addresses of possible copyright violators. Clearly, many are afraid of getting caught. In the U.S., some major ISP providers have agreed to start working with the RIAA in a similar capacity.

Reference: “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”

Learn more about “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” at its official Web site.

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