Sharon Waxman does not like Nikki Finke. It's mutual. So when Waxman's TheWrap reported late Sunday that Finke had been fired from Deadline.com, which she founded, the post was predictably full of vitriol and glee. "The scourge of Hollywood media has clashed repeatedly with her boss, who apparently has had enough," Waxman wrote. Only there's just this one thing: Deadline is saying that Waxman made the whole thing up.
Here's TheWrap's original explanation for the alleged firing:
"Jay Penske, the CEO of Penske Media, which bought Deadline in 2009, told several top Hollywood executives last week that he was firing Finke, complaining she had crossed the line one too many times in sending poison-pen emails berating sources over scoops she lost to competitors.
“She’s been sending emails saying, ‘I’m going to f--- you,’ and Jay says he’s had it,” said one top executive."
Less than an hour after The Wrap reported the news, Deadline posted a response:
"Now, The Wrap is writing that Nikki Finke has been fired, and I don’t believe it for a moment. Nobody fires Nikki Finke. I was copied on this email that Jay Penske wrote to Wrap editrix Sharon Waxman: “Sharon, your story isn’t true and all of the ‘facts’ that you mention are completely erroneous.”
Deadline also published an internal email addressing the rumors, which says:
"As you may be aware, Sharon Waxman at TheWrap has just published a libelous, false, and defamatory story on her blog, in which she claims amongst other things that PMC has fired Nikki Finke from Deadline.
This is a complete fabrication, with not an ounce of truth to it. Just to be clear, Nikki Finke has a multi-year contract with the Company, and it is the Company’s absolute intention to continue its obligations under the agreement."
That Deadline post was also posted by Finke to Twitter:
And, we're go for a rousing adaptation of a high school drama set in the Hollywood blogosphere. We'll have to wait and see what prompted Waxman to publish a story like this about the famously litigious and volatile blogger. But as others have noted, there could very well be something to it:
Please note the careful wording. Something's definitely up at Deadline. deadline.com/2013/06/a-pers…— Chris Krewson (@ckrewson) June 3, 2013
In any case, now is a good time to check in with the (resurrected) Fake Nikki Finke:
Wait, I'm not fired? Why can't I access the Deadline CMS?I've sent Jay 60 emails about this in the past minute. Why is he taking so long?— Fake Nikki Finke (@Fake_NikkiFinke) June 3, 2013
Update 12:18 p.m.: The LA Times weighed in, flagging part of the internal email referencing the terms of Finke's contract, and also citing unnamed sources:
"According to people close to Finke, her PMC contract has a window, opening this month, that allows her to leave Deadline. It is no secret around Hollywood that Finke has been unhappy with Penske since PMC bought rival trade publication Variety. Finke was hoping to play a role in running Variety for PMC, but none has materialized... The mercurial Finke has been telling people that she is looking to leave Deadline and go back into business for herself. While she was filing her box-office report for this weekend she told some people that it would be her last such piece for Deadline."
Update Monday 9:24 a.m.: Finke has responded (sort of) to Waxman's report with her own post:
I am not going to discuss my Deadline Hollywood contract or my relationship with my boss Jay Penske. Why? Because I don’t have to.
And while that's not exactly a denial, she does say she's about to disappear from Deadline, at least for a little while, for a "long-planned summer vacation." Update: As Esther Zuckerman discusses in our follow-up here, Finke's post also objects Waxman's original report that she sent emails saying "I'm going to f--- you." "That email doesn’t exist. I repeat, it doesn’t exist" and posted some of the email chain." You can read more here or Finke's own post.