Nikki Finke Died: Deadline Founder and longtime entertainment journalist was 68 years old

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Nikki Finke, an entertainment industry veteran who founded Deadline in 2006 and helped turn it into a major player in Hollywood professions, died Sunday morning in Boca Raton, Florida, after a long illness. She was 68 years old.

A well-known recluse, Finke founded her website called Deadline Hollywood Daily, a 24-hour online version of her long-running print column “Deadline Hollywood” for LA Weekly. She published first-hand accounts of how she saw the entertainment business and didn’t bother exposing its biggest players. Her often acerbic, caustic posts called for wrongdoing and delinquents as she saw fit, which made her a hero to many aides and rank-and-file employees, while at the same time irritating many in senior management who were not used to anything but praise.

Finke’s style, which does not take prisoners, angered many leading show business players and delighted others. She often received huge exclusives, and when they were confirmed by communication teams or publicists, Finke updated her story using her signature “TOLDJA!”

Among Finke’s most famous—or infamous—appointments was her “live performance” at Hollywood awards including the Oscars, Emmys and Golden Globes. She has attached warning labels to many of these live blogs, including: “Come because of cynicism… stay because of subversion” and “Not for those who are easily offended or ridiculously naive.” Indeed, no executive, star, producer or subject was safe either then or in any other Deadline post.

“At her best, Nikki Finke embodied the spirit of journalism and was never afraid to speak harsh truths with a sharp style and a mysterious spark. She was brash and truthful,” said Jay Penske, founder, chairman and CEO of Penske Media Corporation, which acquired Finke’s blog in 2009. “Nikki has never been easy, but she will always be one of the most memorable people in my life.”.

A native of Long Island, New York, Finke’s journalism career before Deadline included positions around the world in some of the most influential and influential media: as a foreign correspondent for the Associated Press in Moscow and London, Newsweek correspondent in Los Angeles and Washington, DC. and a full-time Los Angeles Times columnist, talking about entertainment and essays. She was a West Coast editor and Hollywood columnist first at the New York Observer and then at New York Magazine. She also hosted an entertainment industry radio show on public radio in Southern California.

She joined LA Weekly as a columnist for Deadline Hollywood in 2002 and has written about business, politics and culture of the media and entertainment industry. Finke launched Deadline Hollywood Daily in March 2006 as a faster way to report the latest entertainment news than her weekly newspaper column, and bought a domain name for $14.

Dow Jones’ MarketWatch called Finke Hollywood’s “must-read,” Los Angeles magazine wrote that she is “essential reading for those who follow the industry, and the New York Observer named Finke “Media Mensch of the Year.”

Finke — and, as a result, Deadline — have become entrenched in the minds of the Hollywood media thanks to her full coverage and a lot of sensationalism about the 2007-2008 writers’ strike.

After Deadline Hollywood was bought in 2009 by PMC Penske (then known as Mail.com Media Corporation), Finke became its editor-in-chief and general manager. Deadline will become an authoritative source of the latest news and insider analysis/comments in the industry. PMC continued to control all three major Hollywood industry publications: Deadline, Variety, and THR.

In 2010, Finke took 79th place in the list of the most influential women in the world according to Forbes.”

That same year, HBO commissioned Tilda, a pilot starring Diane Keaton as a reclusive Hollywood blogger similar to Finke, which was conceived, written and developed without Finke’s knowledge and involvement. Also starring Elliot Page and Jason Patrick, it was created by Bill Condon, who co-wrote the script and directed the pilot project. He was also an executive producer along with Alan Paol, Alexa Junge and John Hoffman. The pilot project had difficult stages of production and post-production, marred by creative differences, and eventually HBO abandoned it in early 2011.

Finke sometimes clashed with the founder and chairman of PMC Penske, and she left Deadline in 2013.

In 2015 , Finke launched HollywoodDementia.com , a website dedicated to fictional stories about Hollywood (an excerpt can be read here). She signed a contract with HBO for the first viewing of materials from the site.

From 2011 to 21, she was a judge of the Mirror Awards, which celebrates outstanding achievements in the field of reporting in the media industry. The awards were presented by the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

A graduate of Wellesley College, Finke has long been a benefactor of the school and has been speaking to its students for many years.

She is survived by her sister Terri Finka Dreyfus; son-in-law James Dreyfus; and nieces Sarah Green Hill and Diana Layton.

The memorial services will be private.

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