In Los Angeles magazine’s December issue, “Pulp Friction,” Patrick Goldstein’s piece on the rock-‘em sock-‘em behavior of the four Hollywood “trades” captured as never before what drives the folks at Deadline, The Hollywood Reporter, The Wrap, and Variety to win at all costs. Even as the story was headed to the printer, however, one particular skirmish was being fought in public. That would be the battle between Deadline founder Nikki Finke and Jay Penske, whose Penske Media Corp. owns Deadline and Variety. Read on for a chronology.
The saga begins…
Finke claims to have been locked out of Deadline.
Finke doesn’t confine herself to the Twittersphere. She posts the news on the Deadline site itself (begging the question: If you’re locked out, then how are you posting?). Although the original post has been scrubbed, NYmag.com's Vulture ran this excerpt in a post entitled “Nikke Finke Continues to Rant About Deadline, Now On Deadline:”
I have been locked out of the Deadline Hollywood site after founding it 7 1/2 years ago. So don’t expect any more box office. I also just tried to post an exclusive involving Jeff Robinov and Sony Pictures and GK Films’ Graham King and Dune Capital Management Steve Mnuchin but only the alert went through. What an extremely sad day.
Undeterred, Finke delivers the same news via Tweet:
At 5:28 p.m., a fed-up sounding Mike Fleming—Finke’s colleague—posts at Deadline:
…let me make it clear, that Nikki has not been locked out of the site. If she had been, if would’ve been difficult for her to post that she was locked out of the site. That said, Nikki has been restricted to filing and editing her own stories. Secondly, she has complained she is prevented from running Deadline stories on her personal Twitter feed, because she has too many followers. The truth is, she has built a Twitter following with a site that gives the appearance she writes every story on Deadline, when her output continues to diminish. That traffic belongs to Deadline’s Twitter feed. The reason for this and other changes is simple. We are trying to strip away the distractions and diversions that have gotten between her doing what she does best, which is filing provocative copy like the Jeff Robinov scoop earlier today….
KTLA Reporter Sam Rubin weighs in—on Facebook.
The evolving media story is picked up by Defamer.
Mark Harris, the prolific pop-culture journalist, enters the fray:
So does New York Times columnist David Carr, whereupon Finke takes aim and fires:
Carr, who wrote a 2008 memoir that owns up to such behavior (The Night of the Gun: A Reporter Investigates the Darkest Story of his Life – His Own), immediately retweets Finke.
And that’s not the only feud-ette Finke engages in. Here’s what happens when the head writer for The Daily Show attempts a bit of humor:
Like moths to a flame, they come… Best-selling funny woman Kelly Oxford jumps in next, addressing Finke directly:
No longer able to automatically share Deadline content via her own Twitter feed, Finke begins using Twitter’s “retweet” button to share stories posted to Deadline’s Twitter feed with her own followers—and to comment, indirectly, on being restricted. This prompts commentary.
The sparks keep flying. Finke and Penske head for mediation, which consists of them sitting in separate rooms, communicating through intermediaries. And then, finally, comes this:
Deadline posts this.
Ahem. The Finkester isn’t done yet, guys.
The hilarity just keeps coming, as Deadline announces that Funny or Die is making a spoof video.
Ahem. Penske isn’t done yet, either. And he says Finke does indeed have a non-compete. Welcome to arbitration!
Los Angeles magazine posts its story. Immediately, readers pick up on some of the most important revelations in the piece, including Finke’s status as a former pet owner.
Thankfully, the cat is on Twitter…
…and so, of course, is the cat’s former owner. Which brings us full circle:
Finke metes out the harshest of punishments: Goldstein and his editor, Amy Wallace, are blocked from following her on Twitter. But that’s okay. There’s always Fake Nikki Finke.