Nikki Finke began the Deadline Hollywood blog in March 2006.Nikki Finke has been fired from the blog she founded, Deadline Hollywood, and will be leaving the company as soon as this week, multiple individuals with knowledge of the situation have told TheWrap.
The scourge of Hollywood media has clashed repeatedly with her boss, who apparently has had enough.
Jay Penske, the CEO of Penske Media, which bought Deadline in 2009, told several top Hollywood executives last week that he was firing Finke, complaining she had crossed the line one too many times in sending poison-pen emails berating sources over scoops she lost to competitors.
“She’s been sending emails saying, ‘I’m going to f— you,’ and Jay says he’s had it,” said one top executive.
UPDATE: Penske emailed TheWrap to say: “Sharon, your story isn’t true and all of the “facts” that you mention are completely erroneous.”
When asked if Finke was in fact leaving Deadline, he did not respond.
Neither Finke nor Penske immediately returned calls seeking comment.
One individual said Finke has been telling executives in Hollywood that she is leaving.
The other issue that brought things to a head is a new contract. Finke’s five-year contract is up next year, and the two have not come to an agreement.
The prospect of a defanged Deadline Hollywood without its Viper-in-Chief is an interesting one. Finke has both terrorized and riveted Hollywood by shredding the reputations of executives she dislikes and heaping praise on those she does.
But recently her writing has tended to be limited to analysing box office on the weekends. The blog has come to resemble a less-spicy trade, with industry casting scoops by Mike Fleming and Nellie Andreeva dominating the coverage.
Still, Finke looms over Hollywood media because of the trail of vituperative writing that has mortified such prominent industry figures as William Morris chairman Jim Wiatt, producer Ben Silverman, mogul Ryan Kavanaugh, former Universal chairman Marc Schmuger, former Academy of Motion Pictures chairman Tom Sherak and many others.
Her willingness to write so aggressively — while simultaneously threatening lawsuits to perceived rivals — was taken as a warning to others to feed stories to her blog and otherwise cooperate.
Finke and Penske have had a combative employee-boss relationship since the start, which surprises no one who has encountered Finke’s take-no-prisoners style. But the tension has worsened considerably since Penske bought Variety. Finke had encouraged Penske to buy the much-weakened trade, with the expectation that she would have a leading role in running it.
When that did not materialise, Finke was furious — and uncharacteristically silent– on the day that the purchase was announced.
Full disclosure (as if it were needed): Finke and I have history (look it up). And Jay Penske is a direct competitor of this publication.
This story was originally published by The Wrap.