Nikki Finke, a lifelong entertainment writer who altered the business of reporting Hollywood, died at the age of 68 after a protracted struggle with an unknown illness. Deadline, the publication she created, verified the news.
Finke rose to fame after working for the Associated Press, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, and The New York Observer before starting her Deadline Hollywood column for LA Weekly in 2002. Finke’s distinct style, candid coverage of Hollywood’s most influential personalities, and willingness to challenge industry norms made the piece stand out.
Finke soon branched off the column into a blog called Deadline Hollywood Daily, which was later shortened to Deadline Hollywood, allowing her to break stories without the constraints of a scheduled column.
Deadline quickly became one of Hollywood’s most popular journals, with readers relying on Finke’s well-placed sources and witty commentary. Finke was a key voice covering the 2008 WGA strike; her in-depth coverage, boldness to challenge senior executives, and ties with striking writers all contributed to Deadline’s increasing notoriety.
“I never intended to be cruel,” Finke wrote in 2016. “It just flowed through my typing fingers, to my laptop keyboard, to the webpage.” I’d been furious when I saw the powerful abuse the powerless, which had been a recurring issue in my long career as an international and national correspondent.
As a result, I had no desire to become an extension of the Hollywood publicity machine.”
In 2009, Penske Media Corporation, IndieWire’s parent company, purchased Deadline. Finke worked for Deadline until 2013. She founded HollywoodDementia.com in 2015, a website dedicated to fictional stories about the film industry authored by various entertainment journalists and insiders. In 2017, she returned to Penske Media Corporation.
“At her finest, Nikki Finke represented the spirit of journalism, and was never hesitant to communicate the hard realities with an incisive style and an intriguing spark,” stated Jay Penske, Penske Media Corporation’s founder, chairman, and CEO.
“She was outspoken and honest.” Nikki was never easy, but she will always be remembered as one of the most unforgettable persons in my life.”