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Speculation swirls around Nikki Finke's future at Deadline Hollywood

June 02, 2013|By Joe Flint and Dawn Chmielewski
  • A screenshot from Deadline Hollywood.
A screenshot from Deadline Hollywood. (Deadline Hollywood. )

Deadline Hollywood founder Nikki Finke is famous for breaking news on the entertainment industry.

But on Sunday night the hot Hollywood gossip was being reported not by her but about her.

Speculation about Finke's future at Deadline Hollywood heated up after rival online publication The Wrap reported that Finke was dismissed from her position after clashing with Jay Penske, the chief executive of Penske Media Corp., or PMC, which owns Deadline Hollywood.

However, soon after The Wrap posted its story, PMC put a statement on Deadline Hollywood calling the piece "libelous, false, and defamatory" and saying it didn't have an "ounce of truth to it." 

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So does that mean the often combative Finke is staying put?

Not necessarily. Although the statement from PMC said the company had not fired Finke, it also said she "has a multi-year contract with the company, and it is the company’s absolute intention to continue its obligations under the agreement." 

According to people close to Finke, her PMC contract has a window, opening this month, that allows her to leave Deadline. It is no secret around Hollywood that Finke has been unhappy with Penske since PMC bought rival trade publication Variety. Finke was hoping to play a role in running Variety for PMC, but none has materialized.

Just as her website often rails against many Hollywood big shots, Deadline has taken plenty of shots at Variety, even though both are now owned by the same company. As recently as Sunday, there was a post on Deadline mocking Variety for running satirical pieces from Hollywood & Swine, a humor site.

The mercurial Finke has been telling people that she is looking to leave Deadline and go back into business for herself. While she was filing her box-office report for this weekend she told some people that it would be her last such piece for Deadline.

Once a one-woman show, Finke beefed up her staff after Penske bought the site. It now has reporters in New York, Los Angeles and overseas.

Neither Finke nor Penske responded to requests for comment.

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