'Deadline Hollywood' Does A Deal
SCOTT SIMON, host:
Nikki Finke may be the hardest working person in show business. With all the industry news that broke late this week, it was also announced that the founder and writer of the Deadline Hollywood Daily blog, who's reported on so many big deals, made one herself selling her blog to the Mail.com Media Corporation for several figures.
Nikki, thanks very much for making time for us today.
Ms. NIKKI FINKE (Deadline Hollywood Daily): Happy to.
SIMON: Can you give us some idea, just to begin with the obvious news, of some of the business ramifications of Michael Jackson's death?
Ms. FINKE: He is a cautionary tale in the business world because there are few people who made as much money as he did over his lifetime. Figures to me have been something like five or six hundred million dollars from his talent alone, another $2 billion from his deal with Sony and his Beatles catalog.
And yet he died, while not a pauper, but with a tiny, tiny fraction of that. The guy was teetering on bankruptcy for the last decade. Somebody said to me that not only did he have more Colonel Parkers than Elvis could have imagined, but he was the Blanche Dubois of the entertainment world.
In the end he depended on the kindness of strangers and literally in the past week, and nobody knows this except I put it together, he finally got his act together. He finally assembled around himself people from the past who had not exploited him, who really had his best interests at heart.
SIMON: Can we set aside the grief of the week over his death, Farrah Fawcett's death, and talk to you about your deal?
Ms. FINKE: Yes, I sold my Web site, so I guess I made money off the Internet.
SIMON: News flash, somebody's done it.
Ms. FINKE: Never thought it would be me.
SIMON: Now, let's just explain. According to the Los Angeles Times - you can confirm or deny - this arrangement is worth millions of dollars.
Ms. FINKE: I've been making the joke that it's the equivalent of the GNP of a small country.
SIMON: Yeah, all right. But I mean - Estonia? That wouldn't be too bad, actually.
Ms. FINKE: Well, more like Burkina Faso.
SIMON: Oh. What does this do to the independence of your site, though, Nikki? Because those of us who follow it have always treasured that.
Ms. FINKE: Well, that was where my due diligence really paid off. I smoked out the people. I mean if anybody had any kind of tie to anybody who I'd been rough on, I immediately crossed them off the list. You've been friends with Harvey Weinstein? Forget it, you're out. In the end, I went with somebody who really doesn't care about Hollywood, isn't part of Hollywood, doesn't plan to be part of Hollywood. I wrote into the contract ironclad agreements that I am in total editorial and design control, because that's the only way that I would do this.
SIMON: Now, you've been purchased by Mail.com Media Corporation.
Ms. FINKE: Yes.
SIMON: I don't know them.
Ms. FINKE: Nobody does. They're headed by a guy named Jay Penske, who is the youngest son of race car, car dealership, whatever billionaire…
SIMON: Oh, Roger Penske?
Ms. FINKE: Roger Penske.
Ms. FINKE: I mean he's 30 years old and my joke all day on the day that we made the announcement was that, you know, I'm working for a 30-year-old. I'm a business cougar. I realized this is exactly what I want, an ambitious young guy with a lot to prove who wants to go out there and work 24 hours a day to hopefully make me rich.
SIMON: Nikki Finke, founder of the blog Deadline Hollywood Daily. Nikki, thanks so much.
Ms. FINKE: Thank you.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.