I don't know Nikki Finke, but I do know that I don't like her type of person -- a vindictive bully.
David Carr, in Monday's New York Times, exposes a battle that's being talked about in the entertainment world. It's based around rumors that Finke is being fired from her "Deadline Hollywood" blog, which she founded and later sold to Jay Penske of the auto racing Penskes. What makes it interesting is that the story of Finke's imminent firing comes from a competing entertainment writer and former friend Sharon Waxman, who edits "The Wrap."
The two women have been feuding for years, since Waxman left The New York Times, where she covered the entertainment industry, to start an online site to compete head-on with Finke. And Finke has often posted stories about someone's imminent firing, creating firestorms that have sometimes ended in the firing actually happening, partly due to the Finke story to begin with.
I first heard about Nikki Finke several years ago, from a good friend who was a Hollywood publicist. She told me stories of how nasty and vindictive Finke is, and how hated and feared she is in the Hollywood entertainment businesses. She's the stereotypical mean bully who uses fear and retribution to get her way. She's known to berate publicists (and bigwigs, too) in order to get scoops and exclusives and to keep news away from her competitors. And when someone crosses her... watch out. She never forgets, and does whatever she can in print and offline to make that person's life miserable and even drive them out of work. It's highly personal with her, and she goes for the jugular. People at all levels in Hollywood are afraid of her wrath in print, so they put up with the bullying.
Carr describes it like this... "And while people in the film and television business complain bitterly about her tactics, most of them play ball. As someone who used to cover the Oscar season, I watched again and again as people used her site as the seedy park on the outskirts of town where they sneaked up on others and stabbed them from behind."
In the world of real journalism, these bully tactics aren't used much because they just don't work in most cases. But the entertainment bsuiness is a world onto (or into) itself, and hype, exaggeration and lies are just part of doing business. I am so glad I'm not in that end of PR. I wouldn't last, because I wouldn't tolerate that kind of treatment. I'd be out of business -- principled perhaps, but out of business for sure.
I'm rooting for Sharon Waxman to come out on top, although insiders are placing their bets of nasty Nikki. I tend to root for the underdog, and in this case, it would be nice to see a bully get taken down a peg or two. The world -- or at least, the entertainment world -- might be a bit nicer place. We don't need more "seedy parks."