I have no beef against Nikki Finke, like many do. In fact, I’ve always admired her throughout the years for her tenacity and fortitude forging a path in a mostly male dominated industry. But something went a little funny when I started seeing more and more news breaks coming from the Motion Picture Academy to Deadline exclusively. The Academy then releases a pointless, redundant news item which no one bothers to post because, well, it’s already been broken by Deadline. Well, all that is fine and well if Deadline weren’t in the Oscar business. But they are squarely in the Oscar business, with Pete Hammond who makes a lot of money doing Q&A’s for the Academy during Oscar season while also writing Deadline’s Oscar column. Deadline takes For Your Consideration ads. So far, so good – this is pretty much what Variety and Hollywood Reporter did back in the day – except for one key difference and that difference, I believe, lies with what I just saw on Deadline just now — apparently David Poland has been writing about it for a while now but I, with my head in the sand, did not see it. In the end, by giving exclusive news breaks to Deadline, and employing Pete Hammond from Deadline, the Academy is, to my mind, endorsing Deadline. And from what I know about them that is not usually how they do business. So it was worth noting.
The thing is, again, fine — the LA Times and The Wrap and other outlets do similar stuff but come on, “personal perspectives in the Oscar race” with Nikki Finke calling Scott Rudin a “baby” or whatever it was? I’m sorry but that’s about as objective as having me moderate it. And finally, all of this would mean nothing were it not for Deadline’s connection to the Academy. Surely this must violate their rules and yet no one seems to be noticing – no New York Times, no Los Angeles Times. Only David Poland.
The Academy once asked me if they could use my site to deliver news to their App. And I said “Sure but do you know my site?” I knew that one look and they would flat out say no because my site takes sides. So does Deadline Hollywood. The Academy should be aware of this.
It’s one thing to be a biased advocating site — to campaign for films because you believe they are good. It’s one thing to reach Academy members with what you write — there is no way of really controlling that. But when the Academy aligns themselves so throughly with a news outlet like that and they dip themselves into the Oscar race as this event clearly is doing – I don’t know. Seems rather slippery, Agent Starling.