October 5, 2009
The Most Feared Woman in Hollywood: Part I
Studio executives quiver at the sound of her name: Nikki Finke, the middle-aged, reclusive queen of entertainment journalism; famous for her brutal, blistering, takedowns.
Finke is the force behind Deadline Hollywood Daily, the three-and-a-half year-old blog she created that illuminates the dark underbelly of the entertainment industry. Finke is famous for breaking industry news before it happens—an executive once complained that Finke had written about his firing before it was carried out—and for getting insider scoop from the highest perches in Tinseltown. Finke is a well-traveled newspaper reporter who recently saw a big payday when she sold DHD to Mail.com for a reported $14 million. (Finke was later accused of bolstering her profile with inflated estimates.)
Hardly anyone in Hollywood will speak ill of Finke, so afraid are they of becoming the object of her ire (or the subject of one of her blog posts), which would make it difficult for any reporter to thoroughly profile her. But this week, The New Yorker’s Tad Friend gives it a shot. In the piece, “Why Hollywood Fears Nikki Finke,” he writes:
Unsurprisingly, Finke has not reacted favorably to being written about; it’s far easier to be author than interviewee. And so she complains. Writing on her blog earlier today, she disparaged not only Friend for his piece, but also, the New York Times’ David Carr who profiled Finke in July, around the time she sold her Website. She also knocked the erudite literary magazine for kowtowing to Hollywood pressure:
The story on Finke opens with an anecdote about Finke’s rival, Sharon Waxman (whom I profile in next week’s Journal), who launched The Wrap, a competitive entertainment news site that aspires to an industry-news takeover. But for now, Finke is getting all the press. And Friend’s one-liner about Waxman wasn’t very flattering: “Waxman covered Hollywood for the Times from 2003 to 2007; though her reporting occasioned a number of corrections, she is aggressively self-confident,” he wrote. The posturing of Finke and Waxman as rivals is somewhat valid—they’re both angling for scoop and desperately to beat each other to the breaking-news punch—but their enterprises are incredibly different. Finke is, by most measures, a single, powerful blogger and her site is just as notorious for news as it is for gossip and speculation. Waxman has put together an ambitious news project that aims to become the next Variety. IT is rumored the two were once friends, though now, they are bitter enemies—at least online, where they are free to berate each other at will.
Check back tomorrow for more on Finke’s debut in The New Yorker…
More Nikki Finke on Hollywood Jew: