(CN) - A close friend of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman sued The National Enquirer for $50 million, claiming he never told the tabloid that he watched the actor use drugs or that the two were gay lovers.
Emmy-nominated playwright and screenwriter David Bar Katz, who discovered Hoffman's body on Feb. 2 after the actor apparently overdosed on heroin, called the Enquirer's story "one of the most reprehensible examples of yellow journalism."
"In its February 17, 2014 edition, the Enquirer published a story that falsely claimed that Bar Katz had supposedly given an 'exclusive' interview to the Enquirer in which he stated that he and Hoffman were gay lovers, that he had seen Hoffman freebase cocaine the night before Hoffman's death, and that he had seen him use heroin on a number of occasions," according to the lawsuit against American Media Inc. in New York County Supreme Court.
But Bar Katz says the story is a "complete fabrication."
"There was no interview," and he never spoke to anyone at the tabloid, he claims.
He further insists that he and Hoffman "were never lovers," and that he never saw Hoffman use heroin or cocaine.
Bar Katz says the Enquirer's conduct "is all the more reprehensible" because it sent out a press release teasing the article to draw more readers.
"As a result of the Enquirer's press release, the false story about Bar Katz has become a world-wide media story dominating the internet," he says.
"The media coverage of Hoffman's death has been highly regrettable and insensitive to Hoffman's family and friends," Bar Katz adds. "But the general unseemly coverage ... now seems restrained in light of this new outrage by the Enquirer."
He demands $5 million in damages plus $45 million in punitive damages for libel. His attorney is Judd Burstein.
American Media did not immediately respond to a request for comment.