For years, a current photo of the reclusive and bilious blog empress Nikki Finke has been the holy grail of people who care about Nikki Finke. It now appears that such a photo exists, and may be published soon. But Nikki says it's not her.
For years, there was only one very old, black-and-white photo of Nikki extant. The Wrap recently uncovered and old yearbook photo, but the scarcity of up-to-date images of the largely housebound mogulette is so intense that we offered up a $1,000 bounty for such an image in 2009. No one bit. But now the Wrap's Sharon Waxman—Nikki's old frenemy—reports that Rupert Murdoch's iPad paper the Daily, of all places, has procured one, and plans to publish it.
The backstory: reporter Hunter Walker (who, in full disclosure, worked at TheWrap in 2010 for several months) set out to get an image of the elusive blogger.
Walker apparently met Finke's boss, Jay Penske, the CEO of Mail Media Corporation, at the Sundance Film Festival last month and told him of his plan to seek a photo of Finke.
Daily editor Richard Johnson and Walker did not return calls seeking comment.
Finke did not respond to an email or call requesting comment.
Not surprisingly Finke apparently ... reacted strongly. Lawyers calls ensued. Publication was suspended until Walker could find two sources to verify the identity of the person in the photograph. The reporter has been scouring the town for two people who can definitively identify her.
So far: no photo.
We asked Finke about the whole thing, and she says via e-mail there's a reason the Daily hasn't released the photo:
What is "preventing" the Daily from publishing the photo in its possession is that, in fact, it is NOT of me. According to what the Daily tells me, it was taken of a woman driving a green Toyota Yaris and I not only have never owned, driven, rented, or borrowed a Toyota Yaris, but also not any Toyota since the 1980s. There are other details about the photo demonstrating it is not of me. Also, Johnson told me the photo was taken at a time when, in fact, I was not driving any car or outside my home. News Corp has not shown the photo to me.
How strange! It should be a simple matter to determine whether or not the woman in the photo is Finke, especially because both Daily gossip editor Richard Johnson and Daily editor in chief Jesse Angelo worked with her when they were all at the Post together. Maybe they never met. One possible explanation for the confusion might be that Finke looks very different today than she did then.
In any case, Finke insists that "no lawyer representing me or [Deadline.com's parent company] MMC has yet contacted News Corp or the Daily in this matter," something we also hear from folks at the Daily. It certainly wouldn't be surprising if she had sicced her lawyers, though. Nikki has threatened to sue us. She sued the New York Post (also owned by Murdoch) in 2002 for libel. She sued eTrade 2006 for illegally recording customer service phone calls without consent. She sued her landlord in 2001. She sues people a lot! In fact, she threatened to sue the New York Post just last year after a reporter there, in comparing a music blogger to her, wrote that "not unlike Finke's, Lefsetz's reports... are either amazingly accurate or horribly wrongfooted." When Finke read that the Post had said that someone else's reports are sometimes horribly wrongfooted and therefore are not unlike her own, she went ballistic and fired off this e-mail to Teri Everett, News Corp's senior vice president for corporate affairs, cc'ing her own attorneys and a number of Post editors:
You would think that, after everything I had to go through in 2002-2005 the last time you people libeled me and the way we resolved the matter, that you would have learned a lesson. But nooooo. Instead, the New York Post in its January 4th newspaper, gratuitously libels me in an article that's not even about me. (See below). Your reporter has absolutely no basis in fact for calling my journalism work "horribly wrongfooted". Among the thousands and thousands of web posts I have made on Deadline Hollywood since March 2006, I have only made one error (I said a Clinton campaign worker might be replaced. He wasn't. But my source was a top ranking member of the Clinton campaign.) How in the world is that "horribly wrongfooted"? Worse, this story has already gone out on Google and Yahoo and been disseminated around the world. I demand an immediate retraction and correction and apology. I reserve all my rights.
You read it here first: Nikki Finke has only made one error since March 2006! Anyway, the Post quickly removed the "wrongfooted" reference to make Finke go away. Nikki told us that no lawyers—again, they were cc'd on the e-mail—contacted the Post in that case, either. Her reference to "the way we resolved the matter" suggested to us that her settlement with News Corp and the Post the first time around included some sort of non-disparagement agreement, which could complicate matters if the Daily were to publish a photo she regarded as...unflattering. So we asked her if she had such an agreement, and she replied, cryptically:
There are no "agreements" (your term) between me and News Corp.
But maybe there are covenants and warranties and contracts! (Later, Nikki clarified: "There's no non-disparagement clause. Nothing like that.") We contacted Johnson for comment and haven't heard back. Have you seen an angry vindictive emotionally fragile blogger driving a green Toyota Yaris? Shoot us an e-mail.