The National Enquirer is nobody’s idea of a model publication (except maybe the Pulitzer Prize board’s, almost, one time). But even the tabloid’s tabloid is expected to adhere to the most basic rules of journalism, such as trying to make sure there’s a modicum of truth to the things it prints. In the case of Philip Seymour Hoffman and his friend, the playwright David Bar Katz, it did not. The Enquirer ran a story that it has since retracted, claiming that Katz had said he and Hoffman were lovers, had freebased cocaine together the night of his death, and that Hoffman had done heroin in front of Katz. But none of that was true. And now The Enquirer is trying to make up for it.
On Tuesday, Katz announced that in response to his $50 million lawsuit against the paper, The Enquirer settled on a couple of remarkable terms: For one, it will be funding an annual $45,000 award to be granted each year by the American Playwriting Foundation, which Katz has just founded. Neither side will say how much the paper paid out, but Katz told the New York Times, “It’s enough for the foundation to give out these grants for years to come.”
In addition, The Enquirer bought a full-page ad in the Times, to run Wednesday, in which it will explain that someone claiming to be Katz had fooled it and planted the faulty information. As Katz’s attorney explained to the Times, The Enquirer reporters searched online for someone with his name, called him, and when they asked if it was the same guy he said yes. “They couldn’t believe that someone would be so callous to say, ‘I’m the real David Katz.’”