In a 10.12 New Yorker profile titled “Call Me: Why Hollywood Fears Nikki Finke,” Tad Friend reviews and re-tells many of the Finke stories and anecdotes that have been kicking around in plain sight for the last few years. I haven’t yet packed for an airport shuttle that I have to catch in 51 minutes, but I found the article fairly reported, very well-written (of course) and even half-neutrally compassionate at times, particularly in a section that recounts a deeply despairing period in 1996 when two friends of Finke — N.Y. Observer editor Lisa Chase and N.Y. Times reporter Bernie Weinraub — were concerned that Finke might do herself in.
Here, in my view, are the two best paragraphs in the piece (which I’ve converted into three graphs):
“Finke’s code is the Hollywood code. She is for hard work, big box-office, stars who remain loyal to their agents and publicists, and the little guy — until, that is, the big guy chats her up. Then she’s for that big guy until some other big guy calls to stick it to the first big guy. And this, too, is the Hollywood code: relationships are paramount but provisional.
“One executive observes that people who heed Finke’s call to snark about their competitors shouldn’t get too comfortable: “The idea is, the lion won’t eat me if I throw it another Christian. It works for a day, but you’re going back to the Colosseum soon.”
“I don’t think for a minute these people like me,” Finke tells Friend. “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.”