AJ McDougall, Ellie Quinlan Houghtaling
Sun, 9 October 2022 at 11:30 pm
Nikki Finke, the fearsome entertainment columnist whose uncompromising style and sharp-tongued scoops helped grow Deadline, the trade site she founded in 2006, into one of Hollywood’s most essential news sources, died Sunday morning. Unsurprisingly, Deadline first reported the news, adding that Finke had been battling a prolonged, unspecified illness.
She was 68.
“At her best, Nikki Finke embodied the spirit of journalism, and was never afraid to tell the hard truths with an incisive style and an enigmatic spark,” said Jay Penske, the founder and chief executive of Penske Media Corporation, which acquired Finke’s burgeoning site in 2009. “She was brash and true. It was never easy with Nikki, but she will always remain one of the most memorable people in my life.”
Finke excelled in some of the most cutthroat journalism shops in the world before heading to Los Angeles, covering Moscow for the Associated Press and Washington, D.C., for Newsweek. She first fixed her withering gaze on the inner workings of Tinseltown in 2002, beginning a column called “Deadline Hollywood” for L.A. Weekly.
After moving Deadline online, the Long Island native gained notoriety with her shrewd exclusives, insider analysis, and annual “live-snarking” of the Academy Awards. Despite her immense popularity, to the point of inclusion on Forbes “World’s Most Powerful Women” list, the blogger was a legendary recluse—never meeting her sources in person and staying away from screenings.
In 2006, MarketWatch quoted the mysterious columnist as saying she wanted to be buried alongside the silver screen greats at the Pierce Brothers cemetery in Westwood. “On my tombstone, it could say: ‘She told the truth about Hollywood,’” Finke told the outlet at the time.