Philip Seymour Hoffman Friend Gets Apology and Foundation Funding From the National Enquirer
The National Enquirer has agreed to a settlement with New York playwright David Bar Katz after printing a scandalous expose claiming he had a homosexual relationship with Philip Seymour Hoffman before the actor died on Feb. 2.
Earlier this month, Katz filed a $50 million lawsuit against the magazine, charging the story and alleged interview with him were "complete fabrication." The publication has now written an apology admitting it was duped and will fund an annual prize for his newly formed foundation, Bar Katz announced on Tuesday.
The New York playwright revealed that he was first made aware of the allegations when his 14-year-old son told him: "'Dad, there's something online about you and Phil being lovers,'" Bar Katz told the New York Times, adding that he initially thought: "Phil would get a kick out of that."
"Things had already achieved the maximum level of surreality, and I thought this thing online was a big nothing," said Bar Katz, who was one of two people who went to Hoffman's apartment in New York's Greenwich Village and found him dead from an apparent heroin overdose.
Bar Katz says he has not spoken to the Enquirer since then, or ever, and told the Times that Hoffman had never taken drugs in front of him, and had instead talked about his battle with addiction and desire to get sober.
He responded quickly by filing a $50 million lawsuit against the American Media publication, which withdrew the article and apologized.
The writer has now launched the American Playwriting Foundation in Hoffman's honor, which will grant $45,000 each year to make an unproduced play. The prize will be called the "Relentless Award," to remember "Hoffman’s dogged pursuit of artistic truth."
The foundation and the prize are being paid for by the Enquirer and its publisher, American Media Incorporated, under a settlement of the lawsuit, said Judd Burstein, the lawyer for Katz.
As part of the agreement, the tabloid has also bought a full-page advertisement in the main news section of the New York Times on Wednesday, in which it says it was duped by a person claiming to be the same Bar Katz.
Burstein didn't disclose the amount paid by the Enquirer, but said, "It's enough for the foundation to give out these grants for years to come," and on Tuesday, he formally filed papers to dismiss the lawsuit, adding that his client didn't receive or seek personal payment.
"The issue was never me being outraged at being accused of being gay -- we’re theater guys, who cares?" Bar Katz told the Times. "The issue was lying about the drugs, that I would betray my friend by telling confidences."
Burnstein explained that the Enquirer's lawyers described their reporter's actions as "an honest mistake," having called someone who claimed to be Bar Katz after doing an identity search. "The reporter did the interview and was convinced it was the right person," said Burnstein, who now has that person's contact information and vows to "have him living out a cardboard box."