Trade Wars

Nikki Finke 'Locked Out' of Deadline, Planned Exit Gets More Tumultuous

Hollywood’s breaking news czar is feuding with her company over plans to leave the site she founded.

“I have been locked out of the Deadline Hollywood site after founding it 7 ½ years ago.”

Late Thursday night, Hollywood's breaking news czar Nikki Finke made the most decided confirmation yet that she is planning to leave and sever ties with Jay Penske, who bought the site in 2009 and notoriously angered Finke by also buying one of her site’s major competitors, Variety, in 2012. Under her guidance, Deadline earned a reputation for breaking Hollywood's biggest news while ruthlessly covering the industry's players. “I am building out and will unveil it right after the new year,” she tweeted. “Can’t wait to report the real truth about Hollywood.”

She went on to say that she has an investor putting over $5 million into her new site, but Penske isn’t making it easy for her to leave: "All that’s left is for the lawyers to disentangle me from Penske. I have no idea why he has fought so hard to keep me. I’ll be free soon.”

The kinks, apparently, weren’t worked out throughout the course of the day Friday, as Finke claimed in a series of tweets Friday afternoon that, at least temporarily, she had been locked out of her site, unable to post as normal, and suspected that Penske was purposely blocking her from Deadline.

“I now only have very limited access inside the Deadline website’s admin after 7 ½ years of full access,” she tweeted. “What a very sad day.” She followed up: “For weeks now Jay Penske pledged to me he would wage ‘nuclear war’ on me unless I obeyed him and stayed at Deadline. He started it Wednesday.”

Finke gave several interviews Thursday night expressing her distress at the complications surrounding her exit plans. “I’m grateful to him for all the money he’s paid me,” she told Buzzfeed about Penske. “I’m grateful for all his help in building out Deadline Hollywood. But now too much has happened between us. And it’s time for us to say goodbye.”

She was less cordial in a statement to Defamer. “I think Deadline is very bland and boring, and doesn’t tell the truth about Hollywood anymore,” she said. About Penske: “[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…he somehow thinks he owns me like I’m his slave. He’s breaking federal law and state law.”

Here are the most incendiary of Finke’s tweets about being "locked out" of Deadline over the past two days. Stay tuned for if and when she’ll be set free, so the “truth about Hollywood” can finally come out.