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Fired gossip columnist Roger Friedman files juicy suit against News Corp.

June 30, 2009 | 12:10 pm

Gossip columnist Roger Friedman wants more than $5 million in lost wages and damages from Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. for firing him after he reviewed the company's "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" based on a pirated copy of the movie.

In a suit filed in New York State Supreme Court on Monday, Friedman says he was fired from his $250,000-a-year job (no, that's not a typo) as a columnist and contributor to Fox News illegally. He reiterates his interesting claim that the copy he viewed online ended up there only because Murdoch, the chairman of News Corp., had inadvertently allowed his own copy of the movie to appear on the Internet and that he was fired to cover that up.

MURDOCHAILES The suit outlines in detail Friedman's take on the events of early April that led to his firing. He says he viewed "Wolverine" online and wrote a column about the film. He claims he sent an e-mail to a Fox News lawyer about watching the film online and didn't get a response. The article went up on the Fox News website on April 2, and less than 48 hours later it was taken down. Friedman says that he went to his editor, Refet Kaplan, to ask why and that Kaplan replied, "Rupert Murdoch ordered it taken down."

Usually if the chairman of the company wants something taken down, that's a bad sign. But Kaplan, the suit says, told Friedman on April 3 that he had talked to Fox News Chief Executive Roger Ailes and not to worry.

That apparently was bad advice. The next day, when the storm showed no signs of abating, Kaplan, according to the suit, told Friedman, "Ailes has got to get with Murdoch." Later that day, Friedman was fired and both News Corp. and 20th Century Fox issued damning statements about Friedman and piracy. Friedman says that John Moody, one of Ailes' top lieutenants at Fox News, told him to keep quiet and that on Monday, April 6, there would be a meeting that could "repair the situation."

Friedman, who has hired legal guns Joseph Johnson and Martin Garbus of Eaton & Van Winkle, wants $180,000 that he says is still owed to him on his contract and $5 million in damages. Friedman hasn't dropped off the face of the Earth since being canned by Fox News. He's blogging for the Hollywood Reporter and appeared today on NBC's "Today" show to discuss Michael Jackson.

A Fox News spokeswoman said the network had not been served with the lawsuit yet.

— Joe Flint


Photo: Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch. Credit: Peter Morgan/Reuters

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