Nikki Finke is leaving Deadline.com, the Hollywood-insider website she founded to report on the entertainment industry. Finke has fallen out with the web site's current owner, Jay Penske, whose company also owns Variety. She aired her discontent with Penske on Twitter, writing on October 25 that she was “fed up” with him for “ignoring our website’s need for more resources and staff.”
"Despite attempts by all to have it go otherwise, Nikki Finke will no longer be leading Deadline Hollywood, and she will not be writing weekend box office or filing stories going forward," Deadline editors Mike Fleming and Nellie Andreeva wrote in a post on the Deadline web site. "This is an emotional and painful parting of the ways for us."
As a scrappy independent chronicler of the machinations of Hollywood, Finke became both revered and feared. Her Deadline Hollywood Daily blog evolved in 2006 from the column she was writing for L.A. Weekly. The following year, film and television writers went on strike, and as that drama gripped Hollywood, the blog became an immediate source of clues to what might happen next.
In 2009, Jay Penske bought Deadline from Finke, began to add staff and the site continued to develop. Last Fall, Penske also bought Variety. The Los Angeles Times reported that Finke wanted a larger role in running Variety than Penske was willing to offer. Two months ago, the reclusive Finke went public with her desires to buy back her old blog.
"One of the most noble things Jay Penske could ever do would be to give me back Deadline," she told The Wall Street Journal.
Penske has released Finke from her contract, which was supposed to expire in 2016, according to the LA Times. Finke did not return a call from KPCC seeking comment, but she told the Times she plans to start her own website that will compete with Deadline and Variety. On October 24, she tweeted that she was building it out and “will unveil it after the new year.”
Finke will strike out on her own in a very different digital landscape than the one that was hungry for her updates in 2006. Industry trade publications like Variety and The Hollywood Reporter have stepped up their own online profiles, with Variety dropping its daily print edition and taking down its website's paywall in March. She'll also be competing for eyeballs with TheWrap.com, and, of course Deadline.com, the website she founded, will continue telling Hollywood stories.
In a late Wednesday morning tweet, Finke suggests she's more than ready to take on the competition:
The tweet links to a teaser for her forthcoming web site, enticing readers to "Come for the cynicism. Stay for the subversion. Don't steal Nikki's scoops."