Nikki Finke is not leaving Deadline quietly. In fact, according to my exclusive conversation with her on Thursday night, she's leaving amidst a litany of accusations ranging from boredom to slavery. According to Finke, "[Penske] owns me like I'm his slave" and has been harassing her. She goes on to say that the current iteration of Deadline is "bland and boring," and that Penske's working conditions are "breaking federal and state law."
Finke shares that
Penske has already forced her to fire two members of her staff, and will be making her fire a third Penske has fired two members of her staff, and will be firing a third in the coming months.
I've reached out to both PMC and Mike Fleming Jr. at Deadline to see if Fleming will be taking over the new site in Finke's absence, and have yet to receive comment from either. Finke's full statement is below (emphasis mine).
I have no plans to take any staff with me at this point. I do have an offer that is a $5.5 million offer for nikkifinke.com, and I have several other offers as well. I haven't negotiated any yet, as I've been waiting until things are finished [with PMC]. They all came in unsolicited and would like me to start after the new year. I'm excited for and entitled to my vacation through the first week of January. I've been forced to work seven days a week with no vacation and I'm excited to be own boss again.
I think Deadline is very bland and boring, and doesn't tell the truth about Hollywood anymore. I've been inundated with administrative duties, and for the past two years I've been begging for more staff, more resources, help for myself in running the site, and he hasn't done it. And in the meantime he's bought a competitor and lavished resources on them.
You reach a point where you just have to say to yourself, "I made a good deal when I sold Deadline," and he is entitled to run it any way he wants, but there's a point where I don't have to participate, and it's time for him to let go. I've been begging and he won't budge—which shows Sharon [Waxman, of TheWrap.com] is so wrong [in her report this summer that Finke was fired by Penske], and I wish him well, I just can't participate anymore or work for him anymore. I need to do my own thing.
[I] reached that point where he's been harassing me, and doesn't want me to take a vacation, and is forcing me to work 7 days a week. I'm sorry but nobody can do that. I've made sure everyone at Deadline can take a vacation and never have to think about Deadline while on vacation, or work more than 5 days a week. Everyone gets that benefit except for me.
Not only had he fired two people but he's going to fire a third, he told me, so we are smaller than we ever have been and were going into awards season. It's ridiculous and I don't want do do this anymore, and luckily I'm rich enough that I don't have to.
I don't have to work again and when I do, I want to do it for myself, and he [Penske] somehow thinks he owns me like I'm his slave. He's breaking federal law and state law.
People think I'm litigious, but I didn't start anything legal against him. He's harassed me with letters, phone calls, e-mail. I haven't started anything against him, let the record show. I thought we were mature adults who could end this amicably.
Update: This post has been changed to reflect that fact that, according to Finke, she had no hiring or firing authority during her time as editor of Deadline