Reader comments have started to fly in response to a Nikki Finke item in which she alleges that the Hollywood Reporter, before publication of a March 8th business story by Alex Ben Block about Summit Entertainment, removed some information in exchange for an interview with Jodie Foster.
We have to agree with the first order of Deadline.com moderated reader thinking. If Finke’s allegations are correct, is it really so objectionable that Summit co-chairman Patrick Wachsberger and COO Bob Hayward received $30 million payouts as part of a major company refinancing deal, or that co-chairman Rob Friedman is getting $7 million? Happens all the time in the upper corporate echelons. Per commenter “Tulse Luper”:
These guys Wachsberger and Friedman turned Summit from a foreign sales company (have you ever dealt with a foreign sales company? They’re like used car lots) into a mini-major studio. That’s like turning Earl Scheib into The Louvre. They made $30m bucks. Good for them!
Nevertheless, this payout info is what Finke says Summit had editor-in-chief Janice Min excise from the article. Finke alleges that in exchange for doing so, THR was given the access that led to a March 25th issue print cover story interview with Foster about The Beaver.
The other major argument Deadline readers are making at press time is that they believe this kind of “horse trading” is standard operating procedure within the tabloid world from whence Min came.
*Update – 03/17/11: FishbowlLA has since heard from a THR spokesperson, who categorically dismissed the Finke claims. “We are amused by her blog’s ongoing obsession with The Hollywood Reporter and also its laughable attempts to be the barometer of journalistic ethics,” they said.
[Editorial note: Changes were made after publication to the headline and text of this item to better reflect the nature of the story.]