FoxNews.com columnist's status unclear

Roger Friedman reviewed illegally obtained 'Wolverine'

News Corp. has given FoxNews.com's Roger Friedman a big thumbs-down after the longtime columnist published a review of an illegally downloaded copy of "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," due to open May 1.

But the columnist's status appeared uncertain Sunday afternoon even though reports surfaced over the weekend that he had been fired.

The trouble began Tuesday when an illicit copy of the film made its debut onto the Web. Fox immediately condemned the theft and copying of an unfinished workprint of the film and enlisted the FBI and the MPAA to track down the perpetrators.

Downloading a copy of the film himself, Friedman wrote a review that appear in his Fox411 column Thursday.

The review itself was positive. "I doubt anyone else has seen this film. But everyone can relax. I am, in fact, amazed about how great "Wolverine" turned out. It exceeds expectations at every turn," he wrote.

But he also described how easy it is to download any film or TV show and joked he might decide to catch up on some other recent films via illegal downloads.

Fox -- pointing that Fox News is a separate business under the News Corp. banner -- responded Friday, "This behavior is reprehensible and we condemn this act categorically, whether the review is good or bad."

Parent News Corp. issued its own condemnation, saying, "Roger Friedman's views in no way reflect the views of News Corp.," and adding, "Once we learned of Roger Friedman's post, we asked Fox News to remove it, which they did immediately."

After word began to circulate late Saturday that Friedman had been removed as well, News Corp. amended its statement, adding that Fox News had "promptly terminated Mr. Friedman."

But had it? Contacted Sunday, Friedman would not comment except to say, "Reports of my death have been extremely exaggerated."

"This is an internal matter that we are not prepared to discuss at this time," a Fox News spokesperson said, leaving the entire matter in question.
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