Along with my co-editor in chief Nellie Andreeva, I am pleased to introduce a Deadline redesign that was long overdue and rolls out this morning in a beta version. In the short term, readers will be able to click on either the traditional format, or the new one. I hope you will try the latter. (The link is atop the page.) The new site improves our ability to be more flexible with charts and graphics, and visually it will provide a cleaner and sharper look, particularly if you head to destination pages like Film, TV, etc. Those pages will now be curated and more pleasing to read, and there will be real-time updates on them so you can see breaking news that deserves your immediate attention. Some might feel the redesign looks a lot like the old one. That was deliberate. A primary goal is to preserve the simplicity of the existing layout: a flowing river of good stories in the center of the site. It has always been easy to come to Deadline several times each day, and pick right up where you left off. One big improvement, in my mind, is a series of prominent destination boxes atop the site we hope will keep important, enterprising stories from drowning in that river as the tide of new stories inevitably drives them downstream. The PMC team has worked months to get us here, and we feel we’ve worked most of the kinks out of the new system. But please bear with …
Emmy nomination ballots are in, so it’s time for my annual trip overseas to my homeland. I’ll resume posting on Emmy nominations day, July 10. Enjoy the next two and a half weeks everyone!
Peter Bart and Mike Fleming Jr. worked together for two decades at Daily Variety. In this weekly Sunday column, two old friends get together and grind their axes on the movie business.
Bart: You and I have lived through a few journalistic zigs and zags in our years at Variety, and we were always candid with each other in analyzing risks and rewards. Variety was started by the Silverman family but the dynasty ran out of sizzle and sold control. Deadline was started by Nikki Finke but she never managed to create a dynasty before running out of sizzle. So the question is this: Where do you take Deadline from here?
Fleming: I think we built something exceptional with her. That said, a few people have asked me, ‘Why, when it looked like she might come back, did she start a site that is crapping all over you?’ I might as well begin there. The testiness that existed since her acrimonious exit aside, I got it in my head that enough time had passed and I wanted her back. I leaned on Jay Penske to end arbitration proceedings to make it happen, and he did just that. Here was my thinking. I like her. Even though we never met in person during our time together at Deadline, we had a lot of fun. When she and Jay hired me from Variety, they changed my life. My only goal was to get three kids through college without having to sell my house, and that effort is looking good. Since taking over, I have been able to extend a hand to several people I grew up with at Variety, and they’ve been great hires. I wanted to do the same with Nikki. My feeling was, when you reach the top after an unprecedented climb up a mountain like she did with Deadline, what’s wrong with staying to enjoy the view? I also thought a measured dose of her fire would complement the mix Nellie Andreeva and I have now.
Bart: Seems understandable. So why are you now known on her site as Mike Pflegming?
LOS ANGELES, CA (April 24, 2014) — Penske Media Corporation’s Jay Penske and Deadline.com co-editors Mike Fleming Jr and Nellie Andreeva announced today the hiring of veteran New York journalist Jeremy Gerard as Executive Editor and Chief Theater Columnist. He will spearhead the expansion of Deadline’s Gotham coverage of media and the theater and lend his vast experience to the editing team on special projects. He starts immediately and can be reached at email@example.com.
“We are thrilled and honored to have Jeremy join our talented team at Deadline.com—and with this significant hire, we extend our coverage of theatre, publishing, and NY media,” commented Jay Penske, Chairman and CEO of PMC.
“After making excuses to Deadline readers in legit, publishing, media and other New York-based media businesses about not having the resources to cover them as aggressively as we do Hollywood, Nellie and I feel we have found the perfect guy to give these businesses their due,” Fleming said. “I’ve worked with Jeremy several times over our careers and have found him as skillful a writer as he is an editor. Teaming Jeremy with our ace business/finance guy David Lieberman gives us an opportunity to give New York the full Deadline treatment the town deserves.”
Gerard brings to Deadline a most respected byline in entertainment journalism. Most recently the chief drama critic and senior editor at Bloomberg News, Gerard has been the Broadway reporter at The New York Times, chief critic and New York Editor …
We are doing more work under the hood here and our tech folks have asked us to stand down for one hour. This won’t impact you guys but it will make us antsy until we can have the site back to ourselves. We’ve been assured this will be painless, so refill your coffee and we’ll see you on the other side.
If you are sending us press releases, story ideas or even just want to say hi, Deadline’s spiffy new general email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. That will ring all the right bells to get your news to the proper Deadline staffers ASAP. So update those address books and blast lists accordingly, spread the word, and get back to work.
In case you haven’t noticed, Deadline Hollywood and Nikki Finke have been a lot in the news lately. Now we are getting the Funny Or Die treatment. Here is a great photo we’ve obtained from the set of the spoof, which filmed yesterday. Directed by Jody Lambert and written by Lambert and Matt Oberg, who brought the idea to Funny Or Die, the skit promises to reveal who the real Nikki Finke is. You can see in the photo Jean Smart doing her best Nikki Finke impersonation, joined by extras from LA Casting. Co-starring in the video with Smart are Christina Applegate, Denise Vasquez, Ann Lansang, Michelle Gallagher and Amy Harber. Funny Or Die’s Betsy Koch and Rachel Goldenberg are producing. We will update with the video when it’s up but in the meanwhile, in Deadline.com tradition, you can offer a caption for the photo. We will pick the best and list them with the video.
Penske Media Corporation’s Jay Penske and Deadline Hollywood co-editors Nellie Andreeva and Mike Fleming announce that veteran entertainment journalist Anita M. Busch is joining Deadline. She will become the film editor, covering everything from box office to marketing and helping steer Deadline.com’s film coverage with Fleming. She starts Dec. 2 and can be reached at email@example.com.
Busch is the former editor of The Hollywood Reporter and former film editor of Variety and has worked for The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Vanity Fair, Time magazine, and other leading publications.
Both Andreeva and Fleming have a long history with Busch. She hired and mentored Andreeva at The Hollywood Reporter, and she and Fleming worked closely together for years at Variety dominating film industry news.
“We thought Anita had put the entertainment business in her rearview mirror, but we jumped at the chance when we discovered that she wanted to return to journalism,” said Andreeva and Fleming. “Both of us loved working with her, and Mike even loved competing against her. To say she is one of the most aggressive, resourceful and thoughtful journalists we’ve seen in our time covering Hollywood is underselling her. Anita is a force of nature. She is also a generous spirit who always brought out the best in us. We are delighted to bring her back, and we can’t wait to see her put her mark on box office and the film coverage here at
Despite attempts by all to have it go otherwise, Nikki Finke will no longer be leading Deadline Hollywood, and she will not be writing weekend box office or filing stories going forward. This is an emotional and painful parting of the ways for us. When we joined Deadline four years ago from The Hollywood Reporter and Variety (respectively), we felt that we were doing something disruptive and game-changing. That spirit is what brought us together and will keep us together, and the current team will remain on that path. Businesses evolve and change, and we’ve learned that no one is indispensable. We will be adding a few significant hires to our staff imminently and, though we will never completely replace Nikki’s unique voice, we will continue ahead, charging hard, breaking every story possible. On behalf of everyone at PMC and Deadline Hollywood, we wish her well and appreciate the opportunity to have worked alongside her.
A little perspective on what is really going on with Deadline Hollywood founder Nikki Finke. For the past few months, she has unfortunately turned an internal matter, her dissatisfaction, into a public spectacle. While Nikki has been doing box-office from Hawaii for the last five months, the Deadline team that keeps this publication awash in scoops has continued to take the high ground and has absorbed these ridiculous barbs. Her latest flurry of dispatches warrants a response.
First let me make it clear, that Nikki has not been locked out of the site. If she had been, if would’ve been difficult for her to post that she was locked out of the site. That said, Nikki has been restricted to filing and editing her own stories. Secondly, she has complained she is prevented from running Deadline stories on her personal Twitter feed, because she has too many followers. The truth is, she has built a Twitter following with a site that gives the appearance she writes every story on Deadline, when her output continues to diminish. That traffic belongs to Deadline’s Twitter feed. The reason for this and other changes is simple. We are trying to strip away the distractions and diversions that have gotten between her doing what she does best, which is filing provocative copy like the Jeff Robinov scoop earlier today.
When I left Variety to come to Deadline, and Nellie Andreeva joined from THR, Deadline Hollywood was more …
Deadline Hollywood‘s 3rd annual The Contenders, which gives film studios an opportunity to vamp their Oscar films directly to AMPAS and Guild members on November 2nd, has in one week filled all 500 available seats in the newly opened Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. You could call it a sellout, but it is of course free admission for voters. That is the fastest we’ve had a full house, even though we have 200 more seats available than in past years. We also have more sponsors than ever, including returnees Dell, Paradigm, Rentrak, Screen Engine and IMAX, and newcomers Rolls Royce, Delta Airlines, Simon & Schuster, Final Draft, and the Honolulu Film Office, which is providing coffee shipped direct from Hawaii.
The Contenders was first conceived and implemented by Deadline Editor In Chief Nikki Finke. Event producer Madelyn Hammond tells me that many of this year’s RSVPs are members who’ve worked The Contenders into their annual pre-voting fact-finding process. “One Academy member told me, ‘In one day I learn all about all the potential Oscar contenders. Hearing directly from the people who made them makes this event relevant and important’.”
This year 12 distributors are represented, screening footage and sending panelists who run the gamut from directors, writers, producers and stars to sound editors and composers. Paramount, Disney, Warner Bros, Sony, Universal, and DreamWorks Animation are slated for presentations, as are indies Sony Pictures Classics, The Weinstein Company, Roadside Attractions, Fox Searchlight, Focus Features and CBS Films.
FRIDAY 7 AM UPDATE: Turns out nobody on The Deadline Team wants to tackle box office this weekend or any weekend. I certainly don’t blame them because it’s a thankless job. Now I’m stuck doing it on vacation through the end of this year. Glad to provide yet more hilarity for your continuing pleasure. (What’s next: a DH sitcom?)
THURSDAY 5 PM: Ask the people who calculate or cover box office regularly what they want the most, and they’ll tell you it’s to get up late on weekend mornings and get to bed early on weekend nights. We’re all sleep-deprived. I’ve been taking some banked vacation in recent weeks while still reporting and analyzing the grosses. But now I intend to take what I consider a well-deserved break from box office until the new year when my contractual obligations start again. Please don’t beat up my temporary replacements as badly as you’ve bruised me over the years. And yes, start betting that I won’t manage more than a week or two away from box office. I love how it can be so unpredictable – especially these days when tracking is meaningless. I started including box office reports on Deadline Hollywood with the goal of doing it differently. In those days, every new release was a ‘boffo hit’ in the trades. I sought to inject more truth into the analysis. I’m still in disbelief how my coverage back then and even now can cause instant dismay and certain dispute and at least debate. In fact I’m positive there’ll be a big sigh of relief around Hollywood when my byline on box office disappears for a while. Even I was surprised by this edited excerpt from the start of a 2011 Fast Company article about Disney’s film biz:
It was prime time, the main event, the first punch of a one-two summer combo — Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides and then Cars 2 – that would shape the studio’s financial fate for the year. The Pirates 4 indicators were particularly discouraging. Disney executives were counting on big revenue from 3-D screens, but ticket sales in the U.S. for such films had been flagging all spring. The reviews had not been pretty… During the afternoon of Friday, May 20, and well into the night, Disney executives emailed [then Walt Disney Studios chairman Rich] Ross and one another with the latest box-office data and anecdotal evidence. The big question on their minds was this: How would media reporters spin the opening-weekend numbers? And more specifically, what was Nikki Finke going to say on Deadline Hollywood? The most influential — and, to studio executives, terrifying — entertainment reporter in town, Finke would set the tone with the initial report on her website. As the results filtered in, Ross and his team wondered if Finke would cackle over the film’s failure to crack the magic $100 million mark in the United States.
Comic-Con will be held in San Diego Wednesday through Sunday and of course Deadline will provide full coverage. Mike Fleming Jr will lead film coverage joined by Jen Yamato and Ross Lincoln for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Godzilla, 300: Rise of Empire, Wolverine, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and more. Dominic Patten will be leading TV coverage of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., Sleepy Hollow, Breaking Bad, True Blood, Game Of Thrones, Dr Who, and Dexter. Anthony D’Alessandro will help coordinate. Deadline will be moderating several panels: Mike for Sons of Anarchy (FX with Kurt Sutter), and Dominic for Wilfred (FX with Elijah Wood by satellite) and Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey (Fox/Nat Geo with a video message by Seth MacFarlane).
Deadline’s unstoppable Film Editor Mike Fleming and indefatigable TV Editor Nellie Andreeva will be on vacation with their families starting Saturday, June 29th. Mike will be back by July 17th to cover Comic-Con with the Deadline team. Nellie will cover the Emmy nominations on July 18th but won’t return to work full-time until July 22nd. Please refrain from phoning, emailing, or texting them during this rest period – or I’ll yell at you. (They deserve time off!) Also expect a lightly staffed Fourth Of July week. Thanks for understanding. As always, contact Deadline with breaking news at Editors@Deadline.com.
Once again, Deadline did not enter the latest Los Angeles Press Club awards contest. Because, once again, the officers and organizers have failed to address our concerns. In my opinion, the LA Press Club seems more interested in collecting entry fees and selling gala tables than in rewarding high standards of journalism or conducting a competition with integrity. This is not sour grapes: Deadline has been winners or finalists in several categories over the years. But the decision to resign from the LA Press Club’s board and to boycott these awards was made in consultation with my staff. Now many major media like Deadline also don’t participate, which is why this year’s ‘Entertainment News’ category consisted of only one news outlet and one writer being nominated for all three finalist slots. (FishbowlLA called it “one of the craziest latest examples of the problems caused by the LA Press Club’s paid-entry award finalist process. Is it still an honor to be nominated when you are the only person nominated?”) Showbiz coverage deserves better. Once again, I strongly urge the LA Press Club to institute more transparency, integrity, and professionalism into its awards process in future years.
Deadline Expands: Hires Washington Post Journalist Lisa De Moraes As Our New TV Columnist, Details Other Staff Additions
LOS ANGELES – June 18, 2013: Penske Media Corporation’s Jay Penske and Deadline’s Nikki Finke and Nellie Andreeva today announced the hiring of LISA DE MORAES, the hugely respected and popular Washington Post journalist who for 15 years wrote the well sourced and widely read ‘The TV Column’ several times a week. Effective immediately, de Moraes becomes Deadline.com’s TV Columnist, covering the business of TV with her deep sources and outstanding knowledge and unusual fearlessness.
“We’re thrilled Lisa has joined our Deadline team,” said PMC Founder and CEO Jay Penske. “Her nuanced perspective of the TV business — always with her trademark wit — is an exciting addition for our audience.”
Before joining The Washington Post in 1998, de Moraes served for nearly 10 years as Television Editor for The Hollywood Reporter. No stranger to the outspoken brand of reporting produced by Deadline’s prolific and talented team, de Moraes comes with an established following because of her distinctive writing style, analysis and opinion. Slate praised that she “gives the entertainment-information industrial complex hell.” Indeed, her sharp and, when necessary, scathing and sardonic insights will make for ‘must’ reading by the industry’s top stakeholders and bolster Deadline’s already prominent position as the go-to source for its TV business readership.
“Lisa is one of the most respected and colorful voices in television coverage today,” said Deadline’s TV Editor Nellie Andreeva. “I’ve enjoyed her work as a fan for years, now I’m happy to have her as a colleague
Said Nikki Finke, PMC’s Editorial Adviser and Deadline’s Editor-in-Chief & Founder: “I can’t remember when I didn’t read Lisa. Her columns cover everything from morning shows to reality programs to executive suites with exclusive news and irreverence. I’m thrilled she decided to make Deadline her Hollywood home.”
De Moraes has moved to Los Angeles and can be reached at Lisa@Deadline.com. With this significant hire, Deadline continues to build its dominance in bold reporting on the business of entertainment. In addition to Finke, Andreeva, Film Editor Mike Fleming, Business Editor David Lieberman, Awards Columnist Pete Hammond, and International Editor Nancy Tartaglione, the Editorial Team has expanded with these recent hires:
DENISE PETSKI, Co-Managing Editor (Denise@Deadline.com): Before joining Deadline Hollywood, Petski spent 18 years with The Associated Press. Most recently she was Breaking News Editor in the AP’s Los Angeles bureau, responsible for writing, reporting, editing and filing to AP’s online, newspaper and broadcast subscribers. Previously, she worked at AP’s Broadcast News Center in Washington DC for the AP Radio Network. Early on in her career, she was at KNX-AM in L.A. and on the assignment desk at CNN L.A. She has won numerous awards from AP, Southern California Radio Television News Association, and Society of Professional Journalists.
ERIK PEDERSEN, Managing Editor – Night (Erik@Deadline.com): Before joining Deadline, Pedersen worked at The Hollywood Reporter for 16 years, rising to Managing Editor. In addition to overseeing a staff of more than 80, he wrote about music for THR, did hundreds of concert and TV reviews, covered such events as the Cannes Film Festival, NATPE and MIFED, and worked closely with the web team. Before that he was a cities editor at the Orange County Register, and ME of the Los Angeles Daily Commerce.
DOMINIC PATTEN, Legal Editor & General Assignment Reporter (Dominic@Deadline.com): Before joining Deadline, Patten wrote for Salon, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Times, and The Globe and Mail. He was the Arts & Life editor and Chief Features editor for The Vancouver Sun. A frequent guest on NPR, Fox News Channel, CNN and SiriusXM, Patten has been a documentary director, TV producer and national news correspondent. He created and hosted Canada’s primetime TV news magazine 21© for CTV and garnered several awards and nominations.
JEN YAMATO, Weekend Editor & General Assignment Reporter (Jen@Deadline.com): Prior to joining the Deadline team, Jen served as Executive Editor at Movieline, Senior Editor at Rotten Tomatoes, and Film Critic at Movies.com. She has contributed to online film publications including WSJ, Film.com, and AOL Cinematical, appeared on CNN as guest critic, and covered international film festivals, Comic-Con, and other entertainment events. She graduated from University of California, Berkeley, with a BA in Mass Communications.
… Since the paper put my boss and me on Page One this morning. Oy vey.
Right now 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. If that changes, I’ll tell you. (I also didn’t post about this imbecilic digital ad about me which my parent company ran without my knowledge in NYC’s Times Square all week during the recent TV upfronts. See below.) The fact is I’m out of town and about to begin my long-planned summer vacation. And the last thing I want is to be bothered now by a bunch of media and/or moguls asking for comment. As it happens, I was napping in a different time zone when The Wrap crapped on me yet again Sunday night. Nothing new: the desperate Sharon Waxman and her revolving door staff have been writing inaccurately about me for years, and doing it to drive traffic to her failing website, and refusing to correct even the most blatant errors. Last night Waxman sent a joint email to my boss and myself at 6:43 PM. She waited two whole minutes. Then she posted her story about us at 6:45 PM. That’s a rotten thing to do, not to mention bad journalism, and she knows it. And it’s yet one more reason I call her website The Crap. That said, I could pick apart her so-called “shocker” line by line, but I won’t. I’d much rather spend my remaining pre-vacation time writing up some great scoops to post this week. Instead, I’ll simply correct one point from her article to illustrate what a bad reporter Waxman is.