Nikki Finke is dead at 68. I’m sorry if she suffered, but she made a lot of other people suffer during her reign of terror as Hollywood’s self styled gunslinger of gossip.
She had few friends, maybe none. It was impossible to be friendly with her. Before creating Deadline.com. Nikki held a few other positions starting at LA Weekly. She wrote a few articles for me at Fame Magazine in the late 80s, But mostly she didn’t turn in her articles. It was weird. One time I stood in front of a fax machine while she told me, over the phone from LA, that she sending an article through. Nothing ever came.
Nikki found a home for a while with Peter Kaplan at the real New York Observer. Peter somehow had patience for her assassinations until he didn’t. She went to the NY Post for a bit, where she wrote nasty things about me, among others, She was dedicated to destroying careers. It wasn’t about revealing the truth, it was about making people unhappy. That was it.
No one knows much about Nikki’s background. She kept it a mystery. Maybe was married once. She said she was debutante. (This is unlikely.) For a long time she lived in Studio City. That was where Jay Penske found her. When Penske offered around $5 million to buy Deadline and keep her on, she took it. She didn’t comprehend that if she left, she could start a new site or write about Hollywood. When Penske couldn’t take the hourly complaints about her, they severed their relationship.
And then, after causing so much grief for everyone, she drifted away. Nikki moved to Florida. Hollywood didn’t notice. She was a David to their Goliath. So many had come and gone in the last hundred years. Maybe Nikki didn’t watch “The Sweet Smell of Success” carefully enough. You actually don’t want to be J.J. Hunsecker.
There is exactly one photo of Nikki. You’re going to see it everywhere today. I see on Yahoo News they’re calling her “pioneering.” Nope. Sorry. But I hope she’s found peace.