Fox columnist Roger Friedman was famously fired from his crappy column at Fox News for writing about watching a pirated copy of a Fox movie, Wolverine. Like any rational person, Friedman blames his firing on Scientology. And he’s filing a lawsuit.
Friedman is convinced it was a cover story. Last August, Friedman went to Memphis for the funeral of his friend Isaac Hayes, who was a Scientologist. Kelly Preston was also in town for the funeral. Friedman says that when Preston saw him at the Peabody Hotel, she loudly blasted him for his columns criticizing Scientology.
The following month, says an ally of Friedman, Preston voiced her complaints about Friedman to Fox News chief Roger Ailes and his then-EVP, John Moody. “Moody talked to her on the phone,” says the source. “When she couldn’t get Moody to fire Friedman, she called him a [obscenity].”
Ailes and Moody later agreed to meet with Preston and Church of Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis (the son of actress Anne Archer), according to the source, who says Friedman’s editors forbid him from writing about the death in January of Preston’s son, Jett.
Meanwhile, Friedman says, 20th Century Fox chairman Jim Gianopoulos had been encouraging him to lay off Cruise’s movie “Valkyrie,” which Fox was distributing internationally.
Last month, Variety reported that Cruise was in advanced talks to star with Cameron Diaz in a Fox action comedy, “Wichita.” A source suspects that Cruise may have made Friedman’s ouster a condition of the actor appearing in “Wichita.”
The original story when he was getting fired was that 20th Century Fox and Fox News were totally separate companies, so it’s interesting that he’s now claiming that 20th Century Fox was pressuring him. And by ‘interesting,’ I mean wow, what an [obscenity].
Friedman’s attorney, Martin Garbus, says: “It’s outrageous that Rupert Murdoch made a decision to fire Roger after four of Roger’s editors and superiors reviewed his column and found it very good [Editor’s note: False.]. In falsely claiming Roger engaged in piracy, they attempted to destroy the reputation of a fine journalist. [Ibid]” Friedman’s “411” column is said to have attracted 50 million [s]hits a year.
A Fox News rep declined to comment. Cruise’s attorney said it was “utterly false” that the actor sought Friedman’s removal. Preston’s lawyer, Martin Singer called Friedman’s claim “absurd and ridiculous. He was terminated just days after [his ‘Wolverine’ column]. It is outrageous to try to blame my client… on the basis of something that supposedly took place eight months earlier.” [NY Daily News]
Sorry this post was so long, folks, but Friedman is a gossip columnist, so it makes sense that his defense would be a long and complex chain of seemingly random namedropping. I would’ve shortened it, but Will Smith told me I couldn’t because he’s still angry that I insulted Bjork at the W in Nashville, whom he knows through Patrick Duffy.