Nikki Finke's been quiet lately, but that doesn't mean she's going to roll over and let other gossip columnists write about her ongoing feud with her boss without a response. Especially when some of Finke's favorite foes — Richard Johnson and Sharon Waxman — are all loosely involved.
Finke followers may have noticed an absence of Finke's personal flourish on Deadline.com over the last few weeks. The only place to consistently find Finke's distinct, cutting voice is in the weekly box office round-up reports. Page Six's Richard Johnson noted this absence in an item about Finke's boss, Penske Media Corp. CEO Jay Penske, turning down an opportunity to buy The Wrap, an entertainment site run by Finke foe Sharon Waxman. (Waxman reported Finke was fired this summer, setting the Finke-getting-out-of-dodge countdown clock.)
"The unhappy Finke — in an apparent job action — has nearly stopped writing," Johnson said Saturday, taking a slight dig at his longtime rival. "Mathematical sources say she’s been responsible for only 7 percent of recent posts."
Penske's decision to turn down The Wrap — instead of buying and then closing it with prejudice — likely angered Finke. Waxman has long been a thorn in her side. But who knows, really? Penske buying Variety, the old-school entertainment trade, led to the current tension with her boss. Finke wanted, and expected more control over Variety's operation after Penske purchased the trade. Her vision saw Deadline as the go-to source for trade scoops and Variety as a home for top-flight industry analysis. Instead, she's still competing with the legacy paper for scoops. Now Finke wants to buy Deadline back from Penske or be cut loose into greener, independent pastures. Her Deadline silence has helped keep the labor feud from boiling over.
But the rarely quiet Finke felt the need to respond to Richard Johnson's little jab Saturday afternoon. "Apparently [Johnson] is the last person to get a clue that I am on vacation and using up the 19 weeks which I’ve banked since selling Deadline Hollywood in June 2009," Finke explained in a short post on Deadline, while thanking the rest of her team for picking up her slack. "I’ve continued doing box office because no one else at DH wanted to do it – and because, for some sick sad reason, I still love putting my own spin on it," she added.
As for Johnson, she had this to say: "How does this waste of space stay employed?"