Tad Friend’s enormous profile of Nikki Finke in today’s The New Yorker may be a little light on breaking news, but for fans of Finke, her hilariously tactless reporting style, and the silly industry she covers, it’s an 8,000-word delight. The piece is being criticized by some (including Finke herself) for pulling punches, though we defy anybody to get better out of the pants-shitting moguls terrified of seeing their faces in one of Finke’s famous photo illustrations. Our favorite takeaways, after the jump.
• If you’re a Hollywood exec hoping Finke will report your side of the story, the surest way to make that happen is to call her before your competitors. For example! A year ago, when she reported that Harvey Weinstein was bothering Sydney Pollack on his deathbed in an attempt to pressure director Stephen Daldry into completing The Reader in time for last year’s Golden Globes submission date, Finke’s source was Scott Rudin, the movie’s co-producer.
• Among the other high-profile execs Friend fingers as Finke’s frequent sources: Universal president Ron Meyer, Ari Emanuel, and David Geffen, who she calls the only person in Hollywood she’s afraid of.
• The name of Finke’s cat? Blue.
• Everybody tries to portray Finke as sad, pathetic, and lonely — but that’s not her at all: “Everyone tries to portray me as sad, pathetic, lonely — that’s not me at all,” she tells Friend.
• Finke on her own mom: “I used to say, and I meant this in a nice way, that my mother should have been a Nazi interrogator.”
• When Finke wrote a story for this very magazine about Weinstein trying to secure Shakespeare in Love’s Oscar for Best Picture in 1999 with a smear campaign against Saving Private Ryan, he called then-New York editor Caroline Miller and told her, “I’m not going to talk to that lying cunt.” (Finke says Harvey got The New Yorker to omit the C-word in Friend’s piece, presumably using similarly charming methods.) Later, after an argument between Finke and Miller during the article’s edit, Weinstein wisely called back, remembers Miller: “I heard that you were mad at Nikki, and I just wanted to put in a good word for her … And I’d really like it if you told her I put in a good word for her.”
• Finke sure sounds like a lot of fun to interview over the phone. Writes Friend: “She was often funny and warm, and at times appealingly distractible, breaking off to talk to her assistant (’I can’t eat this — no offense, but it’s gross! Yuck!’) or her cat (’Yeah, there’s food there — what the hell is your problem?’).”
• Also, she closes her own profile with this sterling kicker: “I don’t think for a minute these people like me. They talk to me because that’s how the game is played. They’d like to ignore me, but they can’t. The best way for them to think of it is: I get bitch-slapped today, and someone else’ll get bitch-slapped tomorrow.”
• And as special bonus, Finke chimed in on the piece yesterday over at Deadline Hollywood, calling Friend “easy to manipulate,” praising the magazine (“Even the cartoons suck these days”), and offering this colorful advice for future subjects of The New Yorker profiles: “You, too, can make The New Yorker your buttboy. Just act like a cunt and treat Remnick like a putz and don’t give a fuck.”