Did Scientologists Get Roger Friedman Fired?

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Photo: Everett Bogue; Photos: Getty Images

Tom Cruise may have botched Hitler's assassination, but did he and other famous Scientologists successfully conspire to have an entertainment columnist fired? Yes, according to a fired entertainment columnist! Roger Friedman — the gossip dismissed by Fox News in April, ostensibly for reviewing the leaked version of Wolverine — has accused his former employer of terminating him because of pressure on Fox from Hollywood Scientologists. Martin Garbus, Friedman's lawyer, tells the Daily News today he intends to file a "slam dunk" wrongful-termination suit in Manhattan court this week.

Friedman, who now writes for The Hollywood Reporter, charges that the blowup over his Wolverine review was just a cover (admittedly, it did seem strange at the time, since his offending column would have had to be approved by an editor prior to publication). The real cause for his termination may have been Tom Cruise, who, "a source" alleges, demanded that Friedman be fired as a condition of the actor signing on to star in Fox's Wichita, a movie with Cameron Diaz.

The evidence? Friedman claims that at Isaac Hayes's funeral last year, Kelly Preston pulled him aside and called him a "religious bigot" for attacking Scientology in a number of his columns, and she later complained about him to Fox News's Roger Ailes and John Moody. "When she couldn't get Moody to fire Friedman, she called him a [obscenity]," says the source. Later, Ailes and Moody allegedly agreed to meet with a Church of Scientology spokesman and subsequently forbade Friedman from writing about the death of Jett Travolta. Also, Friedman was supposedly asked to go easy on Cruise's Valkyrie by 20th Century Fox chairman Jim Gianopoulos, since Fox was distributing the movie internationally (a fat lot of good that did!).

And, in case you were worried that this story couldn't possibly get any more fantastic, don't! Friedman's attorney is claiming that Wolverine's leak was traced back to Rupert Murdoch himself, who asked for a DVD copy of the movie ("apparently, someone made another copy for themselves," says Garbus).

So is any of this true? Since it's one of the least crazy things Scientologists have ever been accused of, we're quite inclined to buy the whole thing. But since we'd like to keep our own job, and because we have no idea how deep this conspiracy runs, we'll also point out that it does still sound pretty crazy.

Fox's axed man blames Scientologists [NYDN]