There has been plenty of controversy and media hype over the apparent heroin overdose that caused the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. Now David Bar Katz, a playwright friend of Hoffman’s, is suing the publisher of the National Enquirer tabloid, American Media, Inc., for libel over a recent story in the magazine which stated that Hoffman and Bar Katz were gay lovers, and that Bar Katz had witnessed Hoffman doing drugs on several occasions, including the night before Hoffman’s untimely death.
Bar Katz’s lawsuit calls the entire publication, including sections of the story that indicate Bar Katz sat down with the Enquirer for an interview, “a complete fabrication.” It noted, “Bar Katz has never spoken to anyone at the Enquirer about Hoffman. Bar Katz and Hoffman were never lovers. Bar Katz did not see Hoffman freebasing cocaine the night before he died, or at any other time. Bar Katz never saw Hoffman use heroin or cocaine.” The libel suit seeks $5 million in actual damages and $45 million in punitive damages.
The Enquirer story had been picked up by several internet news sources but has since been pulled off of the web. It had been slated to be run in the February 17th edition of the Enquirer.
Judd Burstein, Bar Katz’s attorney, issued the following statement: “Here you have Phil’s family and his friends grieving, and the Enquirer comes along seeking to make a buck through putrid lies . . . . Worse still, it appears that the Enquirer sent out a press release hyping the story so that it could sell more copies of the magazine. I do not know how these people can sleep at night.”