Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fox reporter: Scientologists wanted him fired

Ex-Fox reporter says celebrity Scientologists pushed to have him fired
By Stephen C. Webster
June 15, 2009

Former Fox entertainment columnist Roger Friedman said Monday that he plans to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against his prior employer.

Friedman, who was supposedly fired for reviewing a pirated copy of Wolverine, alleges that celebrity Church of Scientology members Tom Cruise and John Travolta’s wife, Kelly Preston, pressured network management to shake loose the columnist, who has been a critic of Scientology for some time.

“Last August, Friedman went to Memphis for the funeral of his friend and R&B legend Isaac Hayes, who was a Scientologist,” reported the New York Daily News. “Preston was also in town for the funeral. Friedman, who now writes for The Hollywood Reporter, tells us that when Preston saw him at the Peabody Hotel, Mrs. John Travolta loudly blasted him for his columns criticizing Scientology.”

“After [an] alleged meeting between Preston and the Fox executives, Friedman was forbidden from reporting on the death of Travolta’s son Jett, and was also told to take it easy on Tom Cruise’s film Valkyrie,” National Post noted.

“A source” told the Daily News that Tom Cruise may have pushed to have Friedman fired as a condition of his appearance in the upcoming 20th Century Fox comedy “Wichita.” Friedman added that once his review of “Wolverine” was published — which was approved by an editor before publication — Fox’s film studio began dictating the news operation’s next moves.

“Preston and Cruise’s lawyers both issued outright denials. Fox refused to comment,” Gawker noted. “And we might have a ball game.”

The suit will be filed in a New York federal court next week, Friedman’s attorney reportedly said.

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