Think Finke

One item I skipped over recently that I don’t want to ignore forever was the recent New Yorker profile of Nikki Finke, complete with an illustration of her from “Love and Rockets” cartoonist Jaime Hernandez. Finke’s response was a nasty — even by her standards — megasnark smack down of the article which basically had her bragging about how she hates the venerable magazine these days, how she, various industry types, and Harvey Weinstein supposedly  manipulated the content of the article, and how she claims to have played editor David Remnick and writer Tad Friend in a way that the legendary Finke could, of course, never possibly be played.

Nikki Finke as drawn by Jaime HernandezMaybe it’s my lingering demi-illness throwing me off, but am I to understand that I’m to applaud Finke for doing the same thing she regularly attacks people for doing with regard to manipulating the press? Or is it okay to manipulate, but not to be manipulated? Does it only take one to tango? Or is it just cool to be as nasty as you can possibly be? It sure seems to work for her commenters. It’s as confusing as the time she counseled me not to be a “hater.”

Of course, when we’re dealing with someone as apparently mercurial as Finke, the levels of double and triple meanings in a post like hers are so deep as to basically cancel themselves out. While it’s level of absolute metaphysical truth is impossible to discern, personally, I think Friend’s article does a pretty good job of capturing the appeal and power of Finke and the sort of inherent meanness of so much of the business side of Hollywood which, all to often, Nikki Finke seems to celebrate.

For me, the most telling part of the piece is right here:

Unlike most Web-based journalists who cover Hollywood, Finke is not a film buff. Her favorite movies include “Legally Blonde.” Jeremy Gerard, who edited her when she wrote for New York a decade ago, says, “Nikki doesn’t care about content—she’s interested in power, and in who’s doing what to whom to achieve power, maintain power, and expand power.” Finke serves as the drivetrain for the town’s mighty engines of schadenfreude, and her clout—if not her subject matter or her exact methods—calls to mind “the unholy trio” of gossip columnists who ruled Hollywood in the studio era.

To me, there’ s nothing sadder in the world than the people who work so incredibly hard in Hollywood, to the point of sacrificing their entire lives, who don’t actually care that much about entertainment — a pretty common reality around the studios, agencies, and elsewhere. If they wanted money, they should have gone into finance. If they wanted power, politics would be the way to go (though it’s probably just as well for the rest of us they stayed out of it). Maybe it’s the pretty people they like. Who knows?

As a very good friend of mine has often wondered, if Nikki Finke has such disdain for Hollywood and apparently little concern for movies and TV or their quality (often it seems like her idea of a good movie is one that makes money), you have to wonder why she covers it in such detail.

At the exact same time, there’s a reason I check her column at least two or three times every day during the week (and often on weekends) to make sure nothing humongous is breaking. And, as a writer, she has a voice. It might not be a pleasant voice a lot of the time, but it’s a voice.

  

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