Well, this is a surprise: The Hollywood Reporter announced today it has hired gossip columnist Roger Friedman as a senior correspondent “to beef up its coverage of the celebrity world and how it intersects with and influences the business of showbusiness,” according to a statement by THR editor Elizabeth Guider. I find it mystifying that THR, which is slavishly dependent on studio goodwill and advertising, would deliberately provoke 20th Century Fox which was surprised by the news. The freelance writer was very publicly fired by parent company News Corp last month because of its “zero tolerance for any action that encourages and promotes piracy”. Friedman got himself in trouble for what he wrote after a stolen, early and unfinished work print of the studio’s big summer blockbuster X-Men Origins: Wolverine was leaked onto the Internet illegally in a major scandal that the FBI continues investigating.
THR said that New York-based Friedman will replicate the Fox 411 column he wrote for Fox.com that broke news about Michael Jackson, Anna Nicole Smith and the music scene, only now it will be called ShowBiz 411 and added to THR‘s roster of blogs. “In addition, he’ll provide breaking news for THR.com and occasional longer pieces for the daily newspaper as well as appear in THR video products and at THR-branded events. He also will play a key role in THR‘s multiplatform coverage of the Oscars, the Emmys, the Tonys and the Grammys,” the trade paper said. THR publisher Erik Mika called Friedman “a major asset for Nielsen Business Media”.