Nikki Finke Speaks! Is She Too Reclusive For Her Own Website?

picture 4 9 Nikki Finke Speaks! Is She Too Reclusive For Her Own Website?“I regret to say I’m not holed up in the fetal position. All I can say to them is: nobody ever took my photo!” Nikki Finke laughs. Speaking to the Observer today about the photograph of the reclusive blogger, driving, that The Daily ran today, she noted: “I have a very nice car, not a Toyota.” (The Daily, possibly fearing legal action, does not state that the photograph depicts Finke, but confirmed its identity through “several associates.”)

Finke has more to worry about, perhaps, than a photograph. She’s been keeping remarkably busy as editor of Deadline and its awards-season print publications, conceived of by marketing professionals and not a Finke passion project: “Parts of it are like crawling through barbed wire–you’re doing a lot with very little.” Both the site, though, and the print edition are doing well, Finke says, though working with small staffs (Deadline’s print edition works with a freelance art director and copyeditor; the website has settled on a new editor in Los Angeles and “very senior” reporter in New York, to begin after March 1.)

Until then, it’s a daily grind for Finke. Since last Sunday night, during which she liveblogged the Super Bowl (“On the other hand, no one couldn’t love dogs cooking and serving Bud Light”), wrote about AOL’s Huffington Post acquisition, and posted without comment new movie trailers debuting during the game, Nikki Finke has been nearly entirely silent on the site. John Cook at Gawker wrote that she was particularly nervous and incensed about The Daily’s plan to publish an image of her, though she contradicted that in interviews with Cook and with the Observer.

On Monday, Finke published, under her own name, three items: a video of the Writers Guild Awards in Los Angeles, an anodyne report on the delayed release of Mel Gibson’s film The Beaver, and a strongly worded takedown of Michael Moore. On Tuesday, she published a long item on the next James Bond film–an item co-bylined by Mike Fleming and running under Fleming’s New York vertical; on Wednesday, Finke embedded the trailer to Disney’s Prom with a sentence about its provenance (“This is the first movie release which Walt Disney Studios Chairman Rich Ross greenlighted.”). That makes five items in the first three days of this week (Finke has not published anything yet today).

Television reporter Nellie Andreeva has posted seven items so far today, sixteen Wednesday, fifteen Tuesday, and fourteen Monday. New York-based Mike Fleming has published seven items so far today, six Wednesday, fifteen Tuesday, and six Monday (counting his lengthy shared byline with Finke.)

The act of quantifying such numbers is unusually different as the site’s bylines do not act in a traditional fashion–Fleming’s links to the “New York” vertical, which contains various authors’ work. Andreeva’s name is in plain text and does not link to anything (Andreeva, when asked about her status and schedule at Deadline, declined to comment). Finke’s links back to the Deadline Hollywood vertical. (A search for an author’s name is similarly ineffective.) Perhaps it’s all irrelevant, as Finke runs the site, though her famously snarky and vituperative voice, as evoked in a 2009 New Yorker profile, defines only her own work there, and even then only sometimes. “I didn’t want Nikki clones,” said Finke. As for strong reactions to her style–and her–Finke has her own theories for her unpopularity, referencing the Internet’s aversion to strong-willed women: “I think people”–she interrupts herself, to talk to what sounds to be a cat, “you are the cutest!”–“I don’t know why. They’re people who don’t know me.”

Not everything gets a reaction, even from Nikki. By this time last week, Finke had posted eleven items, but they ranged from repurposed press releases to the classic Nikki-as-perceived bemoaning Justin Bieber (“Please, just kill me now”). Her schedule fluctuates (she said she was closing an issue Saturday, and further told the Observer she’d been on vacation to Hawaii in September and Mexico during the holidays: “I have a life, you know”) but perhaps something was different this week. Maybe it was just the attention this so-called “private person” was getting. Another phone rang while the Observer began to form a question. Finke made frustrated noises. We let her go. She called back. Her first question: “Can I ask what you’re going to write?”

ddaddario@observer.com :: @DPD_