Today, as we enter the fourth week of the writers' strike — and the first day of resumed negotiations between sides — the New York Times and Bloomberg finally notice Nikki Finke, who has been covering it all like a madwoman since before it even began.
"URGENT! Hollywood Writers Strike Called; Timing Announcement To Come Friday; Actors Agree To Walk WGA Picket Lines; AMPTP Says 'No Progress Can Be Made'" screamed the headline in my inbox on November 1st, which to me kicked off Finke's dominance of anything strike-related. Her account of the WGA meeting, the last-ditch negotiations and walkout timing all set the stage for Monday, Nov. 5th when the strike began and we all started watching reruns and YouTube videos (and, of course, finally getting around to watching those DVD box sets and downloading those episodes off the net). Today the NYT headline calls her an "alternative writer," but in Hollywood — and especially for this strike— Nikki Finke has been no alternative.
Since the strike began Finke has been singled out, at least by the writers, as being the essential source of strike news, serving as aggregator, newsbreaker, and platform for showcasing strike-inspired art like the many clever YouTube videos created by the writers (though Finke did offer to post material from the AMPTP, if they had any) and culminating in this weekend's special exclusive on the "Speechless" series featuring top Hollywood Screen Actors Guild talent in spots produced directly for the Internet — not only a great scoop for Finke and her blog, but an official, actual moviemaking first. According to the NYT, since the strike began her page views have gone from 350,000 per day to approximately a million (and a quick note here on Nikki's blog: She's not one of those bloggers who has a tease and then hides everything after the jump to encourage clicks — cough Gawker cough — it's all there on one long scrollable page, no doubt appreciated by her busy readers. You do, however, have to click through to add or read comments — which may be another reason those numbers have jumped, since there has been furious activity the comments section of er posts, which have become a platform for writer voice in their own right since the strike began.)
The NYT's Brian Stelter (who surely did not write the "alternative" headline, by the way) notes that Finke's strike coverage may have "finally solidified her position as a Hollywood power broker. For this article, more than a dozen executive producers, writers and agents offered to attest to her influence." (He also notes that Finke seems to side with the writers, or rather be somewhat critical of studio heads — see here, here and here; Finke says she's not taking sides.) But either way, everyone reads her.
Here's an interesting juxtaposition: Variety editor Tim Gray dismisses her criticism as part of the "constant noise from bloggers" (even though that criticism has been echoed by the writers) — but listen to Finke here:
"I don't think I'm a better journalist than anybody else," she said. "I don't think I'm a harder-working journalist than anybody else. I do think I have a forum where I have more freedom than anybody else."
(Though she probably does work harder than most people, considering the 142 posts she had logged on DHD before talking to Stelter — surely upped by now. Stelter reports that Finke may be tired, but she's having a great time, thanks to all those scoops — because, per Finke: "A scoop is better than sex." Damn, now that's a happy Thanksgiving.)
Here's how Finke told it to Bloomberg: "People wanted somebody they could perceive as an honest broker...I have no dog in this race and I'm not afraid to criticize the writers and the producers."
In the meantime, she's keeping the scribes busy reading while they're not writing. Said "Late Show With David Letterman" head writer Justin Stangel on the Late Show strike blog, cited by the NYT: "I feel like I am having an affair with Nikki Finke. I am spending much more time with her than my wife." Wow, who knew the writers strike was so hot? Is that a picket sign in your pocket or are you just glad to be standing up to Les Moonves? Picketer - but I hardly know 'er! Etc. Writers, come back to work soon, we need you! Until then, though, there's Nikki Finke.
Earlier in Tracking Nikki Finke:
Nikki Finke's busy weekend [L.A. Observed]