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National Enquirer apologizes over Philip Seymour Hoffman 'gay lover' story

By Michael Pearson, CNN
February 26, 2014 -- Updated 1717 GMT (0117 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: National Enquirer apologizes for story in New York Times ad
  • Tabloid claimed playwright was actor Philip Seymour Hoffman's lover
  • David Bar Katz says he was stunned by the account
  • He will use settlement proceeds to set up an award for playwrights

(CNN) -- The media got it wrong when it came to reporting about actor Philip Seymour Hoffman's death, the late Oscar winner's friend said Wednesday in an exclusive broadcast interview on CNN's "New Day."

Not only did the reporting inaccurately depict Hoffman as a man in a death spiral, playwright David Bar Katz said the press also was lax when it came to a National Enquirer story claiming he and Hoffman were lovers. The report, since debunked, was cited in mainstream outlets.

"I don't know why they did it," he said of the Enquirer. "I know that it's lousy journalism."

Katz sued the Enquirer over the story, reaching a settlement in which the tabloid agreed to fund an award for unpublished playwrights in Hoffman's memory.

Hoffman died of apparent drug overdose February 2. Katz found his body.

On Wednesday, the National Enquirer took out a full-page ad in The New York Times saying it "made a good faith error by publishing an interview with a person who falsely and convincingly claimed to be Mr. Katz."

The real Katz told "New Day's" Chris Cuomo he believes the Enquirer was misled but he was still stunned the publication ran with the story without cross-checking it with other sources -- and that other media outlets picked it up.

"I always knew they made stuff up, but I never knew they made up even having an interview with someone that they never had, and then the degree of seeing how everyone picks it up and, as you just said, treats it like news," Katz told Cuomo.

More broadly, Katz said the media had gotten the narrative wrong when it came to Hoffman's life and death, saying the well-respected actor was not in a destructive death spiral the night he died.

"I can just say that I think a lot of it has been totally overblown," he said. "It gives a false picture of him because he was focused, he was working, he was focused on his family, he was not a partyer, he was not someone that was in a spiral, he was not self-destructive in any way."

"It's a cliché that makes it very easy and that people like, but Phil was not that guy," Katz said.

When police were called to the actor's fourth-floor Manhattan apartment, they found him lying on the bathroom floor with a syringe in his left arm.

Investigators discovered close to 50 envelopes of what they believed was heroin in the apartment, law enforcement sources said. They also found used syringes, prescription drugs and empty plastic bags of a type commonly used to hold drugs, the sources said.

Katz declined to talk about what police found in Hoffman's apartment. But he said the actor had been sober "most of his adult life" and suffered an unfortunate relapse.

He said he hoped Hoffman would be pleased by his efforts to set the story straight but said his friend would as likely have other things on his mind.

"He would more be amused that I spilled ink on my pants and I was on national television and giving me a hard time about that," Katz said.

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