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Nikki Finke is WEEPING Over Dispute!

LOS ANGELES — For her detractors, and there are many, the turnabout is delicious: Nikki Finke, the blogger who squeezed Hollywood with her rabid trade reporting for, is now being squeezed. Jay Penske, the media entrepreneur who bought her Web site in 2009, has Ms. Finke in a difficult spot.

For her supporters, and there are many, the public, yearlong spat between Ms. Finke and Mr. Penske — it centers on his purchase of Variety — has been an ill-timed distraction that has made her site bland. Ms. Finke says she no longer has time to report her signature incendiary pieces because she is too busy “scrambling to keep Deadline together with chicken wire.” The Penske Media Corporation, she contends, has not delivered promised resources — an assertion that a Penske spokeswoman called “patently not true.”

For Mr. Penske and the broader business community, the tit-for-tat entanglement may simply boil down to another example of the corporate difficulties associated with brands that are so closely linked to one personality, especially one as ferocious as Ms. Finke.

Most people in Hollywood are focused on more pressing matters than internal squabbling at a trade publication. But at least in some corners of the show business capital, the Finke-Penske fight has turned into a lurid spectator sport. Ms. Finke has at times taken to answering her phone weeping; at least one studio executive said he privately pressed Mr. Penske to resolve the matter.

Ms. Finke said on Wednesday that she hoped a resolution could come by Sunday, when she is scheduled to “live snark” the Emmy Awards for Deadline.

An effort to team with an outside investor to help her buy back Deadline from Mr. Penske recently ended in failure, she said. She declined to name the investor, but a private equity executive with knowledge of the matter identified him as Jahm Najafi, who runs a Phoenix-based private equity firm. The executive spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions were private. A spokesman for Mr. Najafi had no comment.

The standoff illustrates the problems that can pop up when one individual develops a presence big enough to define an entire news brand, said Joshua Benton, director of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard. “On one hand, there is The Economist approach where they don’t have bylines, to incentivize the magazine brand over staffers,” he said. “But personality and individual standing mean a lot online.”

Ms. Finke said she sees two options: Stay under revised conditions or leave and start over at, a Web site she owns.

“If I was truthful and brutal before, I want to be 50 times more truthful and brutal,” she said of a potential new site, which she otherwise declined to describe. “Maybe I’ll also have a countdown clock: How many days until The Hollywood Reporter has an issue devoted to moguls and their cats,” Ms. Finke added in a trademark swipe at the rival trade outlet. (The Reporter recently put out a pets issue.)

Ms. Finke has a contract with Penske Media through 2016; she said it includes windows that allow her to exit.

Mr. Penske had no comment. The spokeswoman for Penske Media, Lauren Gullion, wrote in an e-mail, “Nikki’s multiyear contract with Deadline is not something that ends soon, and it would unconditionally prohibit her starting any other Web site.”

Ms. Gullion said of Ms. Finke’s assertion that she worked with an investor to buy Deadline, “We have not received any offers from third parties to purchase the business.”

Ms. Finke, speaking from Hawaii, said Penske Media had fallen far short of providing the resources — more reporters, editors and business-side managers — that Deadline requires. Ms. Gullion said: “This is patently not true. P.M.C. has continually made hires of top talent at Deadline ever since we acquired the business and in four years has grown the team.” She cited recent hires like Lisa de Moraes, who joined in June from The Washington Post.

by Anonymousreply 1610/25/2013

Aside from resources, Ms. Finke is pressing Mr. Penske, a son of the auto racing mogul Roger Penske, to make a sharp distinction between Variety and her site.

“We are covering the same stories, pushing out the same e-mail alerts and there is little or no differentiation,” Ms. Finke said. Her solution, she said, would be to make Deadline the breaking news and commentary site and to have Variety focus on “analysis and deep dive.”

Variety has been at the center of the dispute since October, when Mr. Penske bought the 108-year-old trade publication for about $25 million. He quickly said that Ms. Finke would have no say in Variety’s operations. Ms. Finke said she was told the opposite before the purchase, and has clearly chafed at the perceived snub as Mr. Penske has gone about giving Variety a major overhaul, not all of which has gone over well with print readers.

Deadline’s Web site, heavy with exclusive morsels of casting news and executive comings and goings but notably no celebrity gossip, still attracts more monthly unique visitors than But Variety’s traffic has also soared. According to independent comScore figures, Variety, which has abolished its pay wall, had 2.2 million unique visitors in August, up from 320,000 in the same month last year. Deadline had 2.6 million, a 9 percent increase from a year earlier.

(Ms. Finke cites higher internal numbers for Deadline.) For now, Ms. Finke insisted that she was eager to put the conflict behind her and return her focus to her colorful writing and reporting.

“I miss it, Hollywood misses it, and the readers miss it,” she said.

by Anonymousreply 109/19/2013

I hope Nikki can get away from Penske. I have been missing her at Deadline.

by Anonymousreply 209/19/2013

Nikki's own hubris did her in. She bullied so many executives over trivial "scoops" that she became a liability. Deadline will survive without her. It's the comments, not the articles, that make it worth reading.

by Anonymousreply 309/19/2013

But who will be there to comment if the site is bland and doesn't draw a readership?

by Anonymousreply 409/19/2013

She is dreadful. Earlier this year a rumor broke out that she had been fired and I rejoiced. Shame it didn't happen.

by Anonymousreply 509/19/2013

I wish her only the worst!

by Anonymousreply 609/19/2013

I'm all for a straight shooter who tells it like it is, I just don't think she has the brains or taste to be an arbiter like that.

by Anonymousreply 709/19/2013

She is taking a "hiatus" from her weekend box office report for the rest of the year. (And the box office report is basically the only thing she writes on Deadline anymore.)

by Anonymousreply 810/03/2013

Such a self-aggrandizing drama queen.

by Anonymousreply 910/03/2013

You idiotic cunts. I OWN THIS FUCKING TOWN. Jay Penske can do what he wills, but rest assured, the end result the same: I WILL [bold]STILL OWN THIS FUCKING TOWN[/bold].

by Anonymousreply 1010/04/2013

Guess who changed her mind about leaving? TOLDJA I wasn't going anywhere, cunts. The masses have spoken, and they DEMANDED that I stay put. Who am I to deny my fans?

by Anonymousreply 1110/04/2013

Big blow up today. Says she's leaving and launching at the beginning of the year.

by Anonymousreply 1210/24/2013

Jay Penske is HAWT!

But has had a nose job.

by Anonymousreply 1310/24/2013

Finke Linky Stinky.

by Anonymousreply 1410/24/2013

O weep, child, weep, O weep away the stain.

by Anonymousreply 1510/24/2013

Mike Fleming Brutally Maligns Nikki Finke In The Battle For Deadline

by Anonymousreply 1610/25/2013
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