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Anonymous Website Group Claims to Have Outed Nikki Finke

MankaBrosNikkiFinkeIllustrationA turbulent week of media coverage for Nikki Finke just got a whole lot more turbulent.

Following pieces by BuzzFeed‘s Kate Aurthur and NYT‘s Ravi Somaiya about Finke’s current settlement talks with PMC, a mysterious new website – nikkistink.com – has gone live today with footage it claims is that of the reclusive Hollywood journalist. For those in LA who care about such things – and there are many – the video and multi-camera-angle screen grabs depict a woman the site claims is Finke getting into a black Town car.

From the Hollywood Reporter item about this:

According to two sources who spoke to The Hollywood Reporter on the condition of anonymity, one of whom has met Finke in person in recent years, the woman in the NikkiStink.com video is the real Nikki Finke. A call and email to Finke were not immediately returned.

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Hollywood Trade #IceBucketChallenge Devolves Into Twitter War

LAObserved got the ball rolling with some media coverage of TheWrap’s August 18 #icebucketchallenge and the admittedly funny visual of site founder Sharon Waxman seeming not to get wet while underlings to her left and right did.

However, as Waxman subsequently tweeted – and LAObserved’s Kevin Roderick updated – she did in fact sustain collateral ice-cube damage. The lack of an SW torrent was the result of TheWrap’s decision to opt, in drought-stricken SoCal, for the most optimally water-supply-friendly route.

But it is on Twitter where the real cold water was poured on TheWrap. After TheWrap senior film reporter Jeff Sneider did not take kindly to the LAObserved coverage, he got into it with David Poland (Movie City News) and Kristopher Tapley (HitFix/In Contention), both of whom with Poland harshly criticizing the above video. [Editor's Note: Tapley has taken exception with my characterization; please see comments, below.] Also chiming in more neutrally: Sneider’s former colleague Josh Dickey, now with Mashable, and Wall Street Journal film reporter Joe Flint.

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Deadline Gets a Makeover

In announcing Deadline’s first-ever website revamp, TV editor Nellie Andreeva says the move was largely motivated by the now-familiar refrain of a cresting base of mobile-device users.

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So naturally, the early reader comments we paid the most attention to involve those on-the-go movers and shakers:

Jay: Looks good on Mac, but awful to navigate on cell phone.

Burkiss: The site is horrible on my phone. I can’t tell what is a feature and what is recent news. Just awful.

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NikkiFinke.com Finally Launches

Nikki Finke is back and doing one of the things she does best: tooting her own horn.

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From her slightly delayed nikkifinke.com launch announcement:

That’s why I designed my new logo to look the way it does – gritty and bullet-riddled with a fiery palm tree shooting sparks into the night sky more dramatically than any fancy klieg light.

Let those wimpy Hollywood websites do glossy or garish or rewrite press releases or post stenography instead of sturm und drang. I’m all about this town’s gritty reality exposed through the harsh glare of my reporting.

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A Couple of Great Nikki Finke Strands [Updated]

Here’s the first one. And… Because we can never for whatever reason get on-the-record cooperation from PMC, we intentionally did not go to them for comment. If, after reading this item, someone from that end wants to chime in, we’ll be happy to update below.*

Through the grapevine, we hear that Jay Penske, Mike Fleming Jr. and Nellie Andreeva are actively trying to convince Nikki Finke to return to the Deadline fold. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that Deadline, minus Finke, now gets traffic-beat by TheWrap. But that’s just a guess. The discussions, we’re told, are ongoing.

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Now, on to the second, even juicier bit of Finke business. We say that because this strand involves some rare phone and email contact between Finke and rival Sharon Waxman.

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Variety EIC: ‘Paywall Did Nothing But Severely Limit Our Audience’

At the recent 63rd annual MAGGIE Awards, where Variety won three awards including Most Improved Publication/Trade & Consumer, the 109-year-old outlet’s digital editor-in-chief Andrew Wallenstein delivered an afternoon keynote about changes in the PMC era.

Although much of what Wallenstein had to say is common knowledge at this point, it’s still rare in the Hollywood trades world to have the opportunity to hear a key editorial team member speak so frankly and in detail about the inner workings of the operation. Wallenstein joked at one point that he does not recommend doing a full website revamp in three months; he said website traffic has increased, since the elimination of the paywall, by 400%; and noted that the company’s new offices in west LA were set up for “year-round video production.”

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Another Month, Another THR Web Traffic Record

JohnOliverILoveNYTHRThis is why Guggenheim Partners pays Janice Min the big bucks.

For the month of March, worldwide Web traffic was up for both Billboard and THR (on the heels, in the case of the latter weekly print-tied operation, of Jimmy Fallon suggesting Tuesday to guest John Oliver that being on the cover of the “New York Issue” was a “giant, giant magazine” honor). Here’s the short-and-sweet memo from Dan Strauss, GM, digital for both sites:

Hi Everyone,

comScore released multi-platform numbers for March 2014 and I’m happy to announce that THR set a new record with 14.288M total worldwide unique visitors. This tops our previous mark of 14.013M from Jan 2014 by 2%.

Billboard also had a strong March jumping from 7.656M in Feb to 9.377M total worldwide unique visitors.

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Scintillating TheWrap Stats Also Remind: comScore Counts It Differently [Updated]

On January 26, TheWrap will celebrate its fifth anniversary. And when staff gather at the outlet’s west Los Angeles offices for that purpose, there will be extra cause for whooping and hollering.

TheWrapLogoLast month, guided in large part by the astute Web traffic wisdom and knowledge of executive editor Joseph Kapsch, TheWrap lapped rivals Deadline and Variety by a very impressive comScore margin. TheWrap welcomed a little over 3.4 million unique visitors (its highest monthly total yet), compared to around 2.6 million for Variety and Deadline.

There is, per usual and as mentioned in TheWrap item, a wide discrepancy between comScore’s December 2013 numbers and those tabulated by Google Analytics and Quantcast. Which begs the answer to the question – how can the latter two services measure so many more unique visitors for TheWrap (around seven million)?

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New York Magazine Charts Finke-Penske Ups, Downs

BenjaminWallacePicAmong the many fascinating revelations in the New York magazine feature by Benjamin Wallace (pictured) about the evolution of Nikki Finke‘s relationship with Jay Penske is the way she helped her PMC boss drive down the acquisition price of Variety, the property that would eventually prove to be their Deadline Hollywood undoing:

Finke says she advised Penske on how to game the bidding by telling friendly reporters the other bidders were overpaying for it, in order to scare them off. Soon after a Los Angeles Times article to this effect was published, Ron Burkle dropped out.

[Editor's note: Burkle reportedly walked away after his substantially lower offer than Penske's eventual purchase price was rejected.]

Adding to the noteworthiness of this particular New York magazine passage is the fact that the LAT article in question appears to have been written by none other than Patrick Goldstein, author of a Los Angeles magazine profile of Finke and co. that went online last Thursday. In the portion of the Los Angeles magazine article where Goldstein discloses his personal relationships with trade players, he begins the summary of his Nikki dealings with, ‘Finke and I have been friendly for years.’ Apparently so.

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Where Did All Those @Variety Twitter Followers Come From?

That’s a question that caught the attention of Hollywood trade watchers late Friday thanks to Ben Dreyfuss, engagement editor for Mother Jones. He noticed and shared that in late September, the follower count for Jay Penske‘s publishing concern had a “boffo” day.

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What may shock you even more is how cheap something like this is to pull off. Check out for example the prices from this instant-popularity purveyor; they suggest Variety‘s early fall surge could have cost as little as $500.

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