Phillip Seymour Hoffman's Friend David Bar Katz Uses Libel Suit Settlement to Create Foundation, Award in His Honor

When Phillip Seymour Hoffman's friend, playwright David Bar Katz, saw a story by The National Enquirer claiming he and Hoffman had been "lovers who had freebased cocaine the night before his death, and said Mr. Katz claimed to have seen him using heroin many times", he immediately filed a libel suit. After two days, The Enquirer had withdrawn the article and apologized. But Katz's settlement included much more.

Today, Katz told The New York Times that he had created the American Playwriting Foundation. Not only that, but the foundation will give out an annual prize of $45,000 -- called the "Relentless Award" in honor of Hoffman -- for an unproduced play. Eric Bogosian, John Patrick Shanley and Jonathan Marc Sherman will be part of the selection committee.

"We 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," Katz told the Times.

The Enquirer and its publisher, American Media Incorporated, are footing the bill for both. "It's enough for the foundation to give out these grants for years to come," Katz said. The publication also bought a full-page advertisement in The New York Times on Wednesday revealing its error via language provided by Katz's lawyer, Judd Burstein.

As of today, Katz formally dismissed the lawsuit. He did not take any personal payments from the settlement.

Oscar, Tony and multi-award winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead from suspected drug overdose on February 2 at his apartment in Manhattan's West Village.

He most recently appeared on stage in 2012's revival of Death of a Salesman, for which he received a Tony nomination for Best Actor in a Play. The show marked his return to Broadway for the first time since his critically acclaimed, Tony-nominated performance in Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night in 2003. He also received a Tony Award nomination in 2000 for his performance in Sam Shepard's True West.

His Off-Broadway credits included The Seagull at the NYSF/Delacorte Theatre (dir: Mike Nichols), Othello, The Merchant of Venice, Shopping and Fucking, Defying Gravity and The Author's Voice. As co-artistic director of the LAByrinth Theatre Company, he has directed productions of Stephen Adly Guirgis' Jesus Hopped the A Train, Our Lady of 121st Street, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot and The Little Flower of East Orange, and also starred in and directed Jack Goes Boating. He won the 2005 Academy Award and Golden Globe Award, among other honors for Capote. His film credits also include Boogie Nights, Happiness, Magnolia, The Talented Mr. Ripley, State and Main, Almost Famous, Cold Mountain, Charlie Wilson's War (dir: Mike Nichols), Doubt (Academy Award nomination), Jack Goes Boating, Moneyball, The Ides of March, The Master and, the Hunger Games among others.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride

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