As expected, the battle between PMC's Jay Penske and Deadline creator and former editor Nikki Finke is far from over. The LA Times reports that Penske has now brought Finke to arbitration—a move many suspected was imminent, once Finke made plans to launch her own site, NikkiFinke.com.
Despite Finke's claims that she is legally within her rights to start her own website, PMC is insistent upon the fact that Finke was under exclusive contract with the company through 2016. In a statement to the Times, PMC is pursuing arbitration for two reasons: to enforce Finke's non-compete agreement, as well as collect damages for her "numerous" breaches of existing contract. PMC also noted that multiple discussions with Finke had fallen apart, hence the push for arbitration. While non-compete laws are generally unenforcable in the state of California, under the California Business and Professional Code 16602, exceptions can be made if the dispute is between partners in a company, or if one partner breaks off of the partnership. In this case, PMC purchased Deadline from Finke in 2009, effectively making Finke and Penske partners on the site.
After vocal concerns from Finke over Penske not giving her control over Variety, which PMC purchased last October, tensions continued to mount between Finke and Penske. Deadline officially parted ways with Finke earlier this month on November 5th, after multiple missives back and forth between Finke and Deadline's new editor, Mike Fleming Jr, with allegations of slave-like treatment, site lockouts, and a particularly harsh op-ed from Fleming on his thoughts on his then-boss. Finke, who had been on a lengthy vacation from the site, was only posting her signature weekend box office reports and little else until the split.
[Image via Getty, Art by Sam Woolley]