Nostalja! Nikki Finke Helps Deadline Celebrate 10 Years

The founder of Deadline Hollywood looks back.

Remember the time Nikki Finke almost joined Mediabistro? It was never really going to happen, but it’s one of the many fun memories shared today by the Deadline Hollywood founder to help mark the influential site’s 10th anniversary:

I was fortunate that DHD grew organically and, as its sole owner, I never felt pressured to turn a profit. In fact, for the first year, I received no extra payment to work on my website. One day, Mediabistro offered to host DHD and pay me a salary. Only then did LA Weekly finally ante up. I also never asked for traffic stats, nor posted clickbait. My attitude was: if I build it my way, they will come. My philosophy was to give readers the behind-the-scenes biz intel they wanted and needed. Not long after, DHD became one of the top blogs in the USA. Soon Hollywood was sounding the alarm bells.

Finke insists she “never set out to be mean.” Rather, she writes that the words just flowed to the page, grounded in some key advice given to her by mentor Peter Kaplan. Finke also restates that she was never a recluse. Just a journalist too busy to go out.

Finke, who now resides on the fictional side of the business  with her site Hollywood Dementia, also reveals that when she later weeded down several dozen Deadline suitors, it came down to just two:

Haim Saban and Jay Penske. I went to visit Saban at his Malibu beach house for a drink, and to my great surprise and delight we got along very well. But Penske was relentless, phoning me at all hours of the day and night to talk up “what we could do together” and “the opportunity ahead for Deadline Hollywood”. It was not an easy negotiation. “I can’t sell. I don’t want a boss,” I told Penske one night. “I promise to be your worst employee.” But I chose Jay because he knew everything about the internet and would work tirelessly with me.

Could Finke have predicted that 10 years later, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and TheWrap would all still be around? No. In fact, part of her pitch to Mike Fleming Jr. was that “Variety is going down for the count.”

As a reminder of just how quickly things can change, Finke writes, comically, that her name post-Deadline “doesn’t even merit an assistant’s gasp anymore.” Oh, and one more thing for those readying the 10th anniversary memes. Finke no longer has a cat.

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