“The most feared columnist in show business…” That’s how media outlets including the AP, are referring to Nikki Finke, the visionary yet controversial journalist who honed her fearless, scoop-driven style of entertainment reporting right here at LA Weekly with the column, “Deadline Hollywood.” Finke died of an undisclosed illness on Sunday, Oct. 9 in Boca Ranton, Florida, according to Deadline. She was 68 years old.
Finke left the Weekly to create her own online entertainment news website in 2006 and it quickly grew into a powerhouse outlet that often broke stories before other, more established trades such as Variety and Hollywood Reporter (Penske Media Corp. bought Deadline in 2009, and now owns all three).
Finke’s biting, take no prisoners style made an inimitable mark on journalism, and in particular what we’ve come to expect from quick-turnaround, breaking news on digital platforms. Her 24/7 internet presence coupled with her fearless and firsthand accounts of the entertainment business and its biggest power players, made her the go-to for behind-the-scenes investigative coverage of the inner workings and wrongdoings in Hollywood.
Known for being both a recluse and a risk-taker, Finke made a name for herself at the Weekly starting in 2002, with juicy stories about actors, producers, and high ranking studio executives, all gathered by phone and email from her apartment in West Hollywood. Her style was relentless and snarky, but it was also confident and compelling. She seemed to relish sticking it to industry bad apples and she never backed down, even as she left a trail of enemies in her wake.
Named as one of Forbes “world’s most powerful women” in 2010, Finke proved you don’t necessarily have to be well-liked to get people to trust you. She always protected her sources. As obituaries for the influential journalist pile in, all focusing on her contentious reputation, it’s important to remember that even if some didn’t appreciate her tactics, her work was trail-blazing and her fondness for taking credit by saying “TOLDJA!” when her reportage proved true was always about one thing: the truth.
Read Finke’s work for LA Weekly HERE.
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