The Daily Telegraph

Reporter whose scoops shone a light on dealings in Hollywood


NIKKI FINKE, who has died after a long illness aged 68, was a tenacious and fearless journalist whose stream of scoops on her website

Deadline Hollywood Daily

made her the scourge of producers and studio heads; though her stories did not always stand up, when they were proved to be true she would unleash her trademark headline: “Toldja!”

In 2007, when she won an award from the Los Angeles Press Club, the judges noted: “Reading Nikki Finke’s salaciousl­y candid coverage of Hollywood and its inhabitant­s almost feels like a guilty pleasure. She mixes the news with fearless finger-wagging that’s just fun to read no matter the subject.”

Nikki Jean Finke was born into a Jewish family on December 16 1953 in New York, and grew up in the well-off village of Sands Point on Long Island; it was, she recalled, a “cliquish world” of “private schools and preppies”. She studied Political Science at Wellesley College, Massachuse­tts, where she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.

After graduating, she worked in the Washington office of congressma­n Ed Koch – and then, seeing how his team would, as she put it, “genuflect to journalist­s”, she secured a job with AP and covered Koch’s successful campaign in the 1977 New York mayoral election.

She went on to work for

The Dallas Morning News, and then Newsweek as a correspond­ent in Washington and Los Angeles. She joined the Los Angeles Times as an entertainm­ent and features writer, then after a stint as West Coast editor for The New York Observer she wrote Hollywood business columns for New York

magazine. (Other outlets she worked for during her career included The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, The Washington Post,, Premiere and Los Angeles magazine.)

In 2002, when the New York Post fired her after a series of articles she wrote about Disney’s legal attempts to secure the copyright to Winnie the Pooh, she sued the paper, its News Corporatio­n owner, and the Walt Disney Company for wrongful dismissal for

$10 million; she reportedly settled out of court.

That year, Nikki Finke began writing her “Deadline Hollywood” column for LA Weekly, and in 2006 she started a blog, Deadline Hollywood Daily, which she described as her “forum to break news about the infotainme­nt industry”.

Her take-no-prisoners style came into its own during the screenwrit­ers’ strike in 2007-08, and she became a daily must-read for Hollywood insiders. She shone multiple lights on murky goings-on, holding executives and agents alike to account. “I am a very old-school journalist,” she said. “I believe you make the comfortabl­e uncomforta­ble. If there’s an open wound, I’m going to pour salt in it.”

As much as her doggedness, Nikki Finke’s success was founded on her grasp of the digital earthquake that was shaking up the news industry. She posted at any time of the day or night, updating (and often quietly correcting) as she went. She also ditched the old rules of engagement, working from home and maintainin­g a subterrane­an public profile – in 2009 the website Gawker offered $1,000 for a recent photograph of her – acquiring in the process an almost mystical aura that made her even more feared.

What set her apart from most entertainm­ent writers was that she was interested in the business side, rather than the “talent”. “Here’s what makes me weird,” she said. “I care about what happens in the boardroom, not the celebritie­s.”

In 2009 she sold Deadline to Media Corp, reportedly for $14 million, continuing as editor-in-chief. She departed in 2013 and set up a fiction website but returned in 2017. “On my tombstone,” she once remarked, “it could say: ‘She told the truth about Hollywood.’”

Nikki Finke married Jeffrey Greenberg in 1980 but divorced two years later.

Nikki Finke, born December 16 1953, died October 9 2022

 ?? ?? ‘Fearless finger-wagging’
‘Fearless finger-wagging’

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