The Fictional Career History of the Fictional Nikki Finke

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It's too bad HBO's Tilda will never make it to air. The show, which was to star Diane Keaton as a "powerful and reclusive Hollywood blogger" much like Nikki Finke of, would have had a field day with a little episode Finke found herself in earlier this week after Finke got into a nasty email spat with a spokesperson for the Motion Picture Association of America. Fortunately, we have a bit of the script that can tell you what the show would have been like.

But first that spat: Howard Gantman, the MPAA's vice president for corporate communications, had written to Finke to complain about the coverage of an MPAA event. Finke's response was harsh and lengthy and eventually  found its way into the inbox of Gawker's John Cook, who called it "comically out of proportion to the email from Gantman that sparked it." One of the things that struck our eye about the exchange was the length Finke went to lay out her job history. She currently holds the titles General Manager, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of, after selling the growing Hollywood trade site to Jay Penske's MMC in 2009. But in demanding Gantman apologize for talking "to one of my reporters, let alone my Executive Editor like this," she leaned heavily on her time at Newsweek:

That said, I edited David's piece and I was a political science major at Wellesley, an AP correspondent in Moscow and London covering world political news, and a Washington DC staff correspondent for Newsweek covering a multitude of world and U.S.and Congressional and White House political news. During my time at Newsweek I reported alongside such Washington DC media names as Howard Fineman, Gloria Borger, Tommy De Frank, Eleanor Clift, and Margaret Warner before i moved to LA. Here, I continued covering such news when it was relevant to my positions as Los Angeles Bureau staff correspondent for Newsweek as well as many years as staff writer/reporter for the Los Angeles Times in its heyday.

Coincidentally, Newsweek also plays a big part of Tilda's resume. But in the first draft of the Tilda pilot, which was written by Bill Condon (director and writer of Dreamgirls) and Cynthia Mort (writer of Tell Me You Love Me), it is presented in a very different light. Towards the end of the half-hour comedy, Tilda is on the phone with a reporter from the L.A. Times named Brian Sheen who is interviewing her for a profile.

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We can't say for sure where the line is between fact and fiction in this script. Condon and Mort wrote their pilot without any involvement from Finke, though eventually they reached an agreement with her. And though Finke wrote that she would have "no creative or consulting involvement with the show," it presumably had her blessing. According to a source involved in Tilda, the scene above was included when the pilot was actually produced and would have aired if HBO hadn't decided earlier this year not to go forward with the project. We asked Finke if she would untangle fact from fiction in the scene of the show she once said "should have been called Toldja!" But she did not get back to us before publication. If she does, we'll update. 

Update: We heard back from Finke. She reiterated that she was not involved in the Tilda pilot script, that Condon and Mort wrote it without her knowledge, and that even after she reached an agreement with HBO, she had no creative or consulting involvement with the show. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.