Nikki Finke: Major Entertainment Journalist Dies at 68

Nikki Finke: Major Entertainment Journalist Dies at 68

The journalist, a major player in Hollywood journalism, passed away Sunday after prolonged illness.



Niki Finke, a vet journalist, Deadline‘s founder and major player in the world of Hollywood, has died. She was 68.

Finke passed away on Sunday morning in Boca Raton, Florida, following a prolonged illness, a family spokesperson confirmed.

She is survived by her sister, Terry Finke Dreyfus, her sister’s husband James, and nieces Sarah Greenhill and Diana Leighton.

Born in 1953, Finke grew up in Sands Point on Long Island before graduating from Wellesley College.

The first time I met her, circa 1990, she wished to know more about her alma mater, Wellesley College, and my experience there as a professor (my first position after earning Ph.D. at Columbia University) who introduced some new film and pop culture courses.

Finke’s early career included work at the Associated Press, where she covered politics and worked on the wire’s foreign desk, before later joining the staffs of The Dallas Morning News, Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, and eventually west coast editor at The New York Observer, where she covered entertainment business.

In her time with LA Weekly during the 2000s, she headed up the Deadline Hollywood column between 2002 and 2009.
In 2006, she would also launch its online counterpart, Deadline Hollywood Daily, an around-the-clock version of her print work.
Beyond the site fueling entertainment journalism’s break into the 24/7 digital news cycle, she was key player in the reporting around the 2007 writer’s strike.

During this time, Finke also became known for her live blogging of Hollywood’s biggest award shows, including the Oscars and Emmys.

But perhaps the journalist’s biggest legacy would become her famous — and at times infamous — approach to reporting, scoops with a bite and frontal style that impressed and angered industry members. She also reported about the weekend box office around the clock.

Brad Grey, then-chief executive of Paramount, told the Times just a year after her Deadline blog launched that despite Finke’s ability to rile with in-your-face reporting style, her reach was to be respected. “Like it or not,” he added, “everyone in Hollywood reads her.”

“At her best, Finke embodied the spirit of journalism and was never afraid to tell the hard truths with an incisive style and enigmatic spark. She was brash and true,” Jay Penske Founder, Chair and CEO of Penske Media Corporation, said in a statement on Sunday. “It was never easy with Nikki, but she will always remain one of the most memorable people in my life.”

In 2013, Finke departed Deadline and just a year later launch yet another media endeavor, before starting, a website that published short fiction on the Hollywood business written by both her and other entertainment insiders.

Speaking to her legacy and that of Deadline‘s in 2016 anniversary post for the publication, Finke wrote that the concept behind her Deadline Hollywood Daily blog was to get breaking news out faster than she could with her column.

“I didn’t set out to be a disruptor. Or an internet journalist who created something out of nothing that put the Hollywood trades back on their heels. Today, under Penske Media ownership, it is a website worth $100+ million. Or a woman with brass balls, attitude and ruthless hustle, who told hard truths about the moguls and who accurately reported scoops first.”