Hollywood Blog Wars Continue to Escalate

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Photo: Everett Bogue; Photos: Getty Images, Courtesy of Nikki Finke

Today's New York Observer finally gets around to weighing in on the escalating turf war in Los Angeles that is not only causing Hollywood Boulevard to run red with blood, but is also threatening to destroy the very fabric of American society. Are we talking about immigration issues? Illegal drugs? Overzealous policemen with rage issues? No way, the newest gang wars on the Left Coast are not between the Bloods and the Crips, but between long-standing industry rags (Variety, THR) and upstart bloggers like Nikki Finke and Sharon Waxman. If this story sounds familiar, it's because it is: Last month, Variety took a highly publicized swipe at "toxic bloggers," a story that didn't really accomplish anything other than to incense the dozens (possibly hundreds) of people who care about such trivial matters. But today's NYO piece fleshes out the story a bit by scoring some super-juicy quotes and enlightening us to the role that the Slumdog Millionaire juggernaut played in dismantling Hollywood's media establishment.

While John Koblin reports that movie studio trade ads fell 26 percent between 2007 and 2008, none of the once-venerable trades expected advertising to drop off so suddenly in the early months of this year. Ad pages are down some 31 percent at Variety this year, a drop they're attributing to the runaway train that was the Slumdog Millionaire Oscar campaign. “From early on it looked like Slumdog Millionaire was going to clean up,” Neil Stiles, publisher of the Variety group, said. “So companies backed off a bit and said, ‘Look, we don’t have a prayer of winning so we might as well back off on the ad units because there’s no point in trying to influence people.’” Thanks for nothing, Slumdog!

But the real juice of the piece comes directly from the mouths of both Sharon Waxman and Vulture buddy Nikki Finke, editrixes of the Wrap and Deadline Hollywood Daily, respectively. The bad blood between these two veteran reporters is the stuff of legend, but we still find it entertaining that the two continue to take potshots at each other in the press. Whereas Finke has been the queen of the Hollywood blog mountain ever since the WGA Strike of '07 and '08, Waxman recently entered the fray with the Wrap, prompting Finke to get off this epic dis: "Her site is getting no traffic and is inaccurate and boring. And no one in Hollywood is talking about it." Oh, SNAP!

Waxman, however, took a more indirect route when laying the boom on Finke. "[Readers] come to The Wrap in great numbers because they want to read a site that doesn’t have an agenda and doesn’t have a nasty tone to it that is interested and knowledgeable about their lives and their business and their world and wants to report on it in a way that is lively and has a pulse, but isn’t mean-spirited" [emphasis ours]. Um, snap?

As much as we like a good catfight, we can't help but think that this whole brouhaha is little more than a tempest in a teapot. After all, for all of the ink that these sites get, the fact of the matter is that all three are all significantly below the 1,000,000 unique monthly visitor metric (which is the Mendoza line for national advertisers to take sites seriously). And if those numbers from Compete.com are to be believed, the Wrap is actually outperforming Deadline Hollywood Daily, despite the fact that the Wrap is only a few months old. Regardless, we're anxious to see how this fight plays out.

Get Me Rewrite! [NYO]