Shortly after Philip Seymour Hoffman died, the National Enquirer ran an interview with someone calling himself David Bar Katz, claiming that the two were lovers who'd freebased cocaine together and that he'd seen Hoffman use heroin. Turns out the story was bullshit, and now the tab is apologizing with a new grant for playwrights.
The irony, it is richer than a chocolate cake.
The real Mr. Katz (a playwright subsequently hounded by paparazzi) promptly slapped the Enquirer with a libel lawsuit, the New York Times reports, and the Enquirer quickly backtracked and apologized. Turns out they spoke to someone who "falsely and convincingly" claimed to be Katz, and they were very, very sorry.
So Mr. Katz got them to put their money where their mouth is. He's formed the American Playwriting Foundation, according to the Times, and it'll award an annual $45,000 grant for an unproduced play. The Enquirer will fund the whole kit and kaboodle, as well as ponying up for a full-page ad in the Times (the ultimate playwright power-play) announcing the foundation and expressing abject apologies.
Given that the text of the ad was provided by Mr. Katz's lawyer, it's surprisingly diplomatic:
On February 4, 2014, the National Enquirer released an article about Philip Seymour Hoffman and David Bar Katz that purported to be an exclusive interview with Mr. Katz. Following a lawsuit brought by Mr. Katz, the Enquirer investigated further and learned it had made a good faith error by publishing an interview with a person who falsely and convincingly claimed to be Mr. Katz. The Enquirer promptly and responsibly acknowledged its error and publicly apologized to Mr. Katz, his family and Mr. Hoffman's family. Mr. Katz acknowledges his appreciation for the Enquirer's apology for its error, and accepts that apology.
The annual grant winner, the ad continues, will "chosen by a committee comprised of some of American's leading playwrights." No one involved is disclosing the size of the settlement, but Mr. Katz's lawyer told the Times, "It's enough for the foundation to give out these grants for years to come." So I'm guessing it's a lot.
Mr. Katz also said it was the idea he'd rat on his friend to the Enquirer that really upset him:
"The issue was never me being outraged at being accused of being gay — we're theater guys, who cares?" Mr. Katz said. "The issue was lying about the drugs, that I would betray my friend by telling confidences."
A bad business all around, but props to Mr. Katz for making something positive happen.
Photo via AP Images.