Veteran journalist Nikki Finke, who was known as much for founding the Hollywood trade Deadline as she was for her sharp tongue and take on the world of entertainment and those who run it, died on Sunday in Florida after a prolonged illness. She was 68.
Finke founded Deadline in 2006, which reported her death in Boca Raton on Sunday.
“Nikki Finke embodied the spirit of journalism and was never afraid to tell the hard truths with an incisive style and an enigmatic spark. She was brash and true,” said Jay Penkse, founder, chairman, and CEO of Penske Media Corporation, which purchased Finke’s website in 2009. “It was never easy with Nikki, but she will always remain one of the most memorable people in my life.”
Finke worked as a foreign correspondent for The Associated Press in Moscow and London, as a Newsweek correspondent in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., as a Los Angeles Times staff writer covering entertainment and features, and as West Coast editor and Hollywood columnist for the New York Observer and New York magazine.
She started her “Deadline Hollywood” column for LA Weekly in 2002 and later launched Deadline Hollywood Daily in March 2006.
“I needed a quicker way to report breaking entertainment news than my weekly newspaper column. So I bought the URL DeadlineHollywoodDaily.com for 14 bucks and change,” she wrote in 2016. “And today, under Penske Media ownership, is a website worth $100+ million.”
She also hosted a show on public radio in Southern California. Her aggressive coverage of a writers’ strike in 2007 and 2008 helped make Deadline a major player among the industry trades.
Finke also cultivated a reputation as a recluse, eschewing Hollywood parties, screenings and award shows In 2010, she ranked No. 79 on Forbes‘ list of the world’s most powerful women.