Saturday, April 4, 2009 at 5:20AM
A few months ago, Roger Ebert got in hot water for admitting he watched about eight minutes of a movie, walked out, and based his review on those eight minutes. He later went back and watched the entire film. Still, that's a rookie mistake, isn't it?
So, too, is the recent work of Roger Friedman, who presumably believed he would be protected by
working for the same company when he reviewed an illegally downloaded copy of X-Men Origins:
Wolverine on FoxNews.com. There are so many problems here, I almost don't know where to
begin. For an employee of any media company to cop to stealing product off the web is
incredibly stupid. Even if you steal an mp3 at a radio station, it's very dumb.
But to admit to downloading a pirated film that is essentially taking some money out of your
own corporation's piggy bank - and to indirectly infer how easy it is to snag a copy of that
film online - could be the sort of thing that gets you fired. And given how much these
companies put into fighting piracy, Friedman probably should be fired.
The FBI and Fox have been hard at work tracking the source of the leaked film, but Friedman
seized the opportunity to grab some of the available spotlight for himself, and wrote about the film in an article since removed from the Fox News site (but available through the miracle of cached pages).
"Right now, my 'cousins' at 20th Century Fox are probably having apoplexy. I doubt anyone else
has seen this film. But everyone can relax," Friedman wrote. "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."
Stupid. And, by the way, illegal. If some college kid feels the wrath of the MPAA, Friedman
should face similar charges. And don't think for a minute that the parent company is taking
this all in stride. Fox released a statement to IESB chastizing Friedman and his activities:
"We've just been made aware that Roger Friedman, a free-lance columnist who writes Fox 411 on Foxnews.com — an entirely separate company from 20th Century Fox — watched on the Internet and reviewed a stolen and unfinished version of 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine.' This behavior is reprehensible, and we condemn this act categorically — whether the review is good or bad."While the movie studio is trying to completely distance itself from Fox News, they're not "entirely separate;" they both trade under the News Corporation banner. But the message is clear: This was not something 20th Century Fox wanted Friedman to do, nor was it something the studio facilitated. And Friedman is likely in deep shit.