Nikki Finke, a veteran writer who founded the entertainment industry website Deadline.com and rose to prominence as one of Hollywood’s top journalists as a result of her razor-sharp wit and determination, has passed away. She was 68.
According to Deadline, Finke passed away on Sunday in Boca Raton, Florida, following a protracted illness.
A notoriously reclusive writer, Finke started penning the “Deadline Hollywood” column for LA Weekly in 2002 and elevated it to a must-read for trade rumors and gossip. She started the website Deadline Hollywood Daily four years later.
Finke’s incisive fighting style made her many enemies in Hollywood. However, the Long Island native’s steady stream of exclusives demonstrated her significant clout among executives, agents, and publicists. She was cited in Forbes’ 2010 list of “the world’s most powerful women.” Finke was unrepentant, refusing to adjust her behavior in the presence of the glitziest celebrities or the most influential studio officials.
Finke didn’t mingle at red-carpet premieres or cocktail parties; she mostly did it all from the comfort of her west Los Angeles apartment. Finke, however, could viciously criticize business leaders whose decisions she disagreed with from her seclusion. When Jeff Zucker was president of NBC Universal at the time, she allegedly referred to him as “one of the most kiss-ass inept people to run an entertainment corporation.”
Jay Penske bought Deadline Hollywood in 2009; his business, Penske Media Corporation, later also bought Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. Penske and Finke frequently got into arguments, especially after Penske bought the Deadline competitors. After months of negative publicity, she left the site in 2013, but her consultant contract was still in place. Finke noted at the time, “He tried to buy my silence. Not for sale.