Early this morning, Deadline's Nikki Finke lashed out at The Hollywood Reporter, for no apparent reason other than that she could, and that she's Nikki Finke. Taking a break from using up the 19 weeks of vacation she's accrued, Finke outlined the difference between her site and THR in a post titled, "The Hollywood Reporter Trafficks In Crap." It begins:
As you know, Deadline is laser-focused on reporting accurately about the business of Hollywood and ignoring its celebrity bullshit. By contrast, The Hollywood Reporter rumor-mongers inaccurately about the business of Hollywood and gorges on celebrity bullshit.
Finke then lists a series of the stories that she claim drew the most traffic to The Hollywood Reporter during "September/October." She doesn't specify where her traffic information came from, but the list includes tabloid-y headlines like "The Kardashian Family’s Summer of Bummers (Photo Gallery)." (Update: And now The Hollywood Reporter has responded with their actual top stories for September and October. The list is a combination of news briefs and long reads, like "From 'American Horror Story' to 'Walking Dead,' How Horror Took Over Hollywood," with the Kardashian gallery nowhere in sight. "In the outrageous post, the blog claimed to know from its own company's "research" the top-read stories of THR.com, but it is actually impossible for one site to know anyone else's most-read content," The Hollywood Reporter notes. Also, they call Deadline.com a "blog.")
Finke has been known to post these little out-of-the-blue attacks on media rivals before. Over the weekend, she posted an attack on New York Post gossip columnist Richard Johnson that seemed to be related to an item he filed about another Finke rival, Sharon Waxman of The Wrap. So, if her latest Hollywood Reporter missive seems random, you haven't been following the feud between two of Hollywood's most insidery entertainment sites. Here's a brief history.
"So if you’re one of the 10 readers of The Hollywood Reporter left in this town, then you may have noticed today’s rebrand," Finke wrote of the site's redesign.
Finke argued that The Reporter claimed not one, but two of her scoops as exclusives. "How utterly classless of The Hollywood Reporter [...] not to give Deadline credit," Finke wrote. "Then again, THR and Variety, too, steal so much content from Deadline without credit on an almost daily basis, it’s clear the trades have no shame anymore." The next day, after The Reporter confirmed her report that Peter Jackson was casting The Hobbit (doesn't that seem so long ago?) she laid into them once more. "The Hollywood Reporter has done it again," she wrote. "So I’m embarrassed for the trade paper and any media outlet that stoops to content theft and won’t properly credit Deadline."
Later that month she threw in a burn foreshadowing today's rant: "If you haven’t noticed, the front page of THR is increasingly resembling TMZ as a Hollywood scandal sheet."
The Reporter points out that it's the most-read entertainment trade website in a press release:
THR.com (which includes The Live Feed blog) saw more than 1.9 million unique visitors in July, according to third-party measurement company comScore's Media Metrix. Not only is that 61% higher than Deadline Hollywood (1.18 million), but it's four times as much traffic as longtime rival Variety and five times more than a newer competitor, theWrap.com.
The Reporter tends to refer to Finke as "angry" and "famously litigious," but when Finke sued BoxOfficeWorld.com for ripping off Deadline stories in their entirety, The Reporter gave her the benefit of the doubt. "This latest suit might raise a few eyebrows in the showbiz media world. While Finke has generally been cordial in crediting and linking to this blog, we've heard many Hollywood journalists complain that Deadline typically declines to acknowledge or link to competitors who break news," Matt Beloni wrote. Things were so much nicer then.
Here's where the petty asides turn nasty. In early September The Reporter wrote to Finke's parent company, accusing her of spreading rumors. "In an effort to gain a competitive advantage for Deadline.com, Ms. Finke falsely has told THR advertisers and others in the Hollywood community that THR is experiencing financial problems [sic] will cause it to make massive layoffs, end its print edition and/or go out of business, or be sold by Prometheus. None of this is true," the letter read.
Finke's response was colorful, to say the least. She addressed her earlier accusations of exclusive stealing and claimed that several Reporter journalists had slandered her around Hollywood. Then she said "Now get the fuck out of my face."
Five days later
Penske Media Corporation, Deadline's parent company, sued The Reporter's parent company, Prometheus Global Media, for copyright infringement and copying the coding of their "carousel" feature, used on TVLine.com. The Reporter argued that the examples of stories "stolen" from Deadline were "stories that originated from widely-released press releases from publicists, or widespread confirmations from publicists to numerous outlets, including both The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline.com." They added that they were looking into the stolen code allegations. Deadline had a lot to say about the lawsuit as well.
PGM filed an answer to the lawsuit and called it a "desperate" attempt by a company that can't "compete on the quality of its editorial content."
Deadline published a couple of stories attacking The Reporter's credibility and financial viability. The Reporter published a story about Jay Penske, the owner of PMC, and his arrest for "allegedly breaking into the Nantucket Yacht Club and urinating on a woman’s boots," as The Reporter put it. Nantucket's Inquirer and Mirror reported that the women involved in the incident never pressed charges.
Prometheus admitted they used TVLine's code, which meant Penske had won. Which meant Deadline had won. Which, really, meant Nikki had won. The two released a joint statement:
Prometheus admits that the Hollywood Reporter copied source code from Penske Media Corporation’s website http://www.TVLine.com; Prometheus and the Hollywood Reporter have apologized to Penske Media and pursuant to this stipulation have compensated Penske Media as a result; and both companies are pleased that this matter has now been resolved.
Finke posts today's dig because why not?