Playwright who was not Hoffman's gay lover funds prize with Enquirer money

Thumbnail image for philip-seymour-hoffman.jpgIt's stunning how fast this all happened. One day, the National Enquirer was posting a totally bogus story that claimed David Bar Katz told the tabloid he was the secret gay lover of the late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman — and had freebased cocaine with Hoffman the night before he died. In a few hours, Katz signed the papers on a lawsuit. Within two days, the New York Times reports, "the Enquirer had withdrawn the article and apologized."

And on Tuesday, less than three weeks after the article was published, Mr. Katz said he had formed the American Playwriting Foundation, which will give out an annual prize of $45,000 for an unproduced play. In honor of Mr. Hoffman’s dogged pursuit of artistic truth, it will be called the Relentless Award.

The foundation and the prize are being paid for by The Enquirer and its publisher, American Media Incorporated, under a settlement of the lawsuit, said Judd Burstein, the lawyer for Mr. Katz. As part of the agreement, The Enquirer has also bought a full-page advertisement in the main news section of The New York Times on Wednesday. In it, The Enquirer says it was duped by a person claiming to be the same Mr. Katz. Mr. Burstein provided the text of the ad.

The amount of money being paid by The Enquirer will not be disclosed, Mr. Burstein said, adding, “It’s enough for the foundation to give out these grants for years to come.” On Tuesday, he formally filed papers to dismiss the lawsuit.

“It’s so awful and ludicrous,” Katz said. He and Hoffman “had talked so often that it’s a tragedy playwrights can’t survive being playwrights — about how nice it would be if you could make your rent and still have an occasional steak.” The selection committee for the prize will include writers Eric Bogosian, John Patrick Shanley and Jonathan Marc Sherman, plus Katz.

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