A few weeks ago, we picked up a report from Variety‘s in-house BlogDogger, which claimed that the time-stamp for a Deadline.com item about an Emma Stone movie project had been falsified to match the 3:00am PT January 5 mark of a similar report on Variety. On behalf of Deadline, Nikki Finke responded a few days later, without—as Variety film writer Jeff Sneider and others subsequently tweeted—addressing the core issue of an apparent magical time-stamp. She explained that Deadline.com reporter Mike Fleming had been working on the same Stone news for several days beforehand, and this, apparently, justified whatever may or may not have followed.
Well, here we go again. According to BlogDogger, after Variety posted an item by Sneider and Josh Dickey on Monday night at 7:37 p.m. PT about the Sundance sale of The Surrogate, the article was followed in short order by similar items at LATimes.com and HollywoodReporter.com. Then, once again, a Deadline.com Fleming item appeared with a time-stamp that BlogDogger alleges was illicitly tweaked to cozy up to that of THR‘s third-place report posted at 8:19 p.m PT/11:19 pm ET.
According to BlogDogger, the
Sundance Film Festival trade subsequently contacted Deadline.com and asked that the PMC flagship remove the word EXCLUSIVE from the report, because the story was fourth down the line and contained no new information. Here’s how Finke allegedly responded:
The only response they got was from Finke herself, whose HOW DARE YOU CONTACT ME response defended the tag only by saying internal time-stamps proved that “Fleming had been working on the story for a while.” Not sure how that makes it an EXCLUSIVE,but… OK
As was the case with the January 5 article incident, Finke seems to be implying that because Fleming was on it for some time beforehand, the resulting Deadline.com coverage ranks regardless as exclusive and-or merits a clock-jumping imprematur.
After FishbowlLA contacted Finke with specific questions for comment, she provided us with the following on-the-record statement via email:
“Another Variety lie. Mike was working on the story for a long while before according to time-stamps. Problem is, Deadline doesn’t read Variety — and neither does anyone else in Hollywood anymore.”
Update - 01/25/12: Finke has provided FishbowlLA with an additional statement: ”No one changed any time-stamp. Period. Variety‘s anonymous allegation is a malicious fabrication.”
*Update – 01/27/12: Deadline.com reporter Mike Fleming spoke with FishbowlLA about these allegations. Read our follow-up report here.