Tired as we all may be about seeing the words Nikki Finke and Deadline appear on this website today, Deadline's Mike Fleming Jr. has shot back at Finke. In a mildly interesting but slightly expected turn of events, Fleming sells his boss down the river in his latest blog post, proving that good friends do indeed stab you in the front. Who knew that Finke would come out as today's winner in the battle for the moral high ground?
Fleming's post, entitled "Fleming On Deadline's Efforts To Restore Nikki Finke's Game-Changing Writer Voice," takes Finke to task for what he calls "turned an internal matter, her dissatisfaction, into a public spectacle."
He makes it clear that while Finke was not locked out of the site as she claims, she has been restricted to editing only her own posts. He also goes on to say that Finke was indeed banned from tweeting Deadline feeds on her own Twitter page, so as to avoid from "distractions and diversions"—likely from Finke sharing her side of the story. (I'd like to point out that unless this is part of her contract, as it seems to be, no one can actually restrict anyone from tweeting someone else's tweets, but hey, old people and Twitter were never really a match made in heaven.)
He goes on to call the original iterations of Deadline when he joined the team in 2010 "more a guilty pleasure than a business"—very interesting given that Fleming was lured away by such decadence from Variety back in 2010. He aligns himself quite firmly with PMC boss Jay Penske, in line with his recently increased editorial duties, stating "We want the old Nikki Finke back. If she returns—she is under contract until 2016—we will welcome her with open arms. If she doesn’t, we will survive, knowing in our hearts that she is miscast as the victim in this drama." Fleming seems to have forgotten that Deadline was originally Finke's creation, and purchased by Penske. It seems hardly appropriate for him to take on the proverbial 'we,' unless he is indeed stepping up to the role of Deadline editor, as has been widely speculated.
Fleming and Finke always had a tenuous relationship prior to his leaving Variety to come to Deadline, but no one can deny that since his move over to Deadline, he and TV editor Nellie Andreeva have been her most trusted consigliere. To release this post isn't just an insult, it's a brutal massacre in what is shaping up to be quite a bloody war.
And really, this begs a larger question—one I can't believe I'm asking at 6:00 PM on a Friday, when I've already written about Finke all day—but where the fuck is Penske? He's known for conveniently hiding behind his lawyers and his human resources executive pretending to be a publicist, Lauren Gullion, but really. Fleming just aligned himself with a boss who is unwilling to speak for himself, choosing to be the yapping dog on Penske's clearly taut leash. Smart move! At least with Finke, he worked for someone that allowed him to have his own opinion, and respected him even when said opinion didn't align with hers.
Lastly, Fleming, who has taken on a most peculiar habit of narcissistically titling his pieces with his name despite the fact that his byline clearly shows he's the writer of the article, also released the post at 5:28 in the afternoon—continuing the Deadline tradition of trying to bury their mudslinging late in the afternoon when they think it might go most unnoticed. Joke's on him! I don't have anything better to do than sit back and watch this unfold, while performing dramatic live readings of Finke tweets to the crumpled bags of Chipotle scattered around me. Anyone who cares to join me in this pastime is more than welcome.