April 17, 2014

Sharon Waxman: No comment on The Hollywood Reporter job

BY ROBERT W. WELKOS

Intrigue. Suspense. Denials. No comments.

The latest episode in the Tiger Woods or the Jesse James sex scandals?

Hardly.

It’s the industry buzz surrounding who will be the next editor-in-chief of The Hollywood Reporter, the venerable and now wounded entertainment trade publication.

I bring this up only because last Friday I had a curious response when I e-mailed Sharon Waxman of The Wrap asking whether she could address whether she was offered the editor’s job at THR.

Her cryptic e-mailed response: “Sorry, I can’t comment on the subject of your question.”

Now, it is certainly Waxman’s right to decline comment on any subject she so wishes, but it comes not long after she herself e-mailed her arch-rival in the Hollywood journalism game, Nikki Finke, whether “La Finke,” as Waxman calls her, was considering jumping ship at Deadline.com to become editor-in-chief of THR?

Waxman’s inquiry brought a quick response from Richard Beckman, CEO of THR’s parent firm, e5 Global Media, which last December acquired THR along with Billboard, Adweek and other Nielsen Business Media properties. He told the trade publication: “There is no truth to the report that Finke has been offered the job of editor-in-chief.”

Finke herself revealed that the “offer was real” and included “$450,000 annual salary” plus a $1million Malibu home, which I was told, “you can keep whether you stay 5 minutes or 5 years, in the job.”

Finke stressed that she “does not negotiate” but noted that she “set in motion a dialogue about mutually beneficial business betweenmy parent company MMC and the new THR owners. That discussion continues.”

All this got me to thinking: why is Waxman being coy about whether she has offered the editor’s job?

In Hollywood, things often aren’t what they seem. My mind has been swirling with scenarios. Did Waxman’s refusal to comment mean that she had been approached but thought it best not to say anything since she didn’t want to be accused of possibly jumping ship at The Wrap? Or had Waxman not been approached and simply didn’t want to provide ammunition for Finke to gloat? Whatever the reason, Waxman should be applauded for flushing out Finke and getting her to state on the record that she had received an offer but wouldn’t be leaving her current job at Deadline.com.

But if Waxman is or isn’t being considered for the same job, shouldn’t she now state that for the record?

Blogger Wars: Chapter 2 – Nikki Finke vs. Sharon Waxman

By ROBERT W. WELKOS

Chapter 2 – The Nikki-Sharon Wars: The blogger wars heated up Friday with Nikki Finke of Deadline Hollywood fame and Sharon Waxman of The Wrap tangling over Finke’s jaw-dropping contention that she turned down a lucrative offer (a $1 million condo in Malibu among other things) to become editor-in-chief of The Hollywood Reporter.

The latest twist in the Nikki-Sharon Wars came when Richard Beckman, CEO of THR’s parent firm, e5 Global Media, which last December acquired THR along with Billboard, Adweek and other Nielsen Business Media properties, told the entertainment trade publication that “there is no truth to the report that Finke has been offered the job of editor-in-chief.”

“Huh,” Finke reacted on her popular blog. “I’ve gone over my notes, and let me reaffirm that the offer was real and detailed and made to me by one of Beckman’s bosses during a phone conversation on the night of January 13th. It consisted of: $450,000 annual salary for becoming editor-in-chief of The Hollywood Reporter. Plus a $1 million Malibu home which, I was told, “you can keep whether you stay 5 minutes or 5 years, in the job. (Why this? Because I had said that some day I want to buy a Malibu condo with an ocean view.) Plus a sum, roughly estimated, at $650,000 a year for my share of several cable TV deals which e5 anticipated making for THR. And so on. Other people know about this offer, too.”

Finke did not identify who among Beckman’s superiors allegedly offered her this deal.

“Let me reiterate that I did not negotiate,” Finke stressed. “Instead, I set in motion a dialogue about mutually beneficial business between my parent company MMC and the new THR owners. That discussion continues.”

“Now let me add this: at the time, I thought this a lucrative offer but also a ludicrous one, considering how many THR journalists are going to lose their jobs when e5 Global Media transitions the trade from a weekday paper to a monthly glossy magazine, and website operation filled with syndicated content, and cable TV programmer. THR needs a miracle worker. But to justify this money, that person must walk on water.?

Waxman touched this latest skirmish when she questioned whether Finke was considering jumping to another job.

“The word I hear from one source involves a scenario in which La Finke, much feared, widely read, deeply disliked , could leave Deadline.com for another job elsewhere,” Waxman wrote. “I agree this sounds unlikely, given that she sold her site just last summer to Jay Penske’s Mail Media Corporation for a cash sum and a 10-year deal that has been estimated anywhere from $10 million to $15 million.

“But that’s what I’m hearing. I can’t say more about the job, but it would be editorial and based here in the entertainment industry. Apparently not all the ‘i’s were dotted, nor all the ‘t’s crossed in her MMC deal, which supposedly involved an employment contract.. (That would be the 10-year aspect of it all).”

On Friday, Waxman took note of Beckman’s denial, adding: “Meanwhile, La Finke has responded to me, but she’s back to form. She writes (and this is the entirely of the missive): “Your story today is deliberately and maliciously inaccurate, again.” I’ll take that as a denial.

Other Hollywood bloggers have taken note of the flap.

For example, David Poland, in his Hot Blog column, writes with ample snarkiness: “The denial of having made Crazy Nikki and offer from Richard Beckman, I have to say, reeks of a non-denial denial. The precision of the language, “there is no truth to the report that the site’s editor has been offered the job of editor-in-chief,” suggest that though Nikki may not have been offered the E-I-C job, she may well have been offered something else altogether, something even more lucrative. I don’t know a person on the face of the earth aside from CN herself, who thinks Nikki can manage another human being without turning it into a CSI episode within weeks. Really, I don’t even think that Nikki thinks she is a manager.”

Blogger Wars: Variety vs. Entertainment Blogosphere

By ROBERT W. WELKOS

The war between “Variety” and the entertainment blogosphere is heating up. “Los Angeles Times” film columnist Patrick Goldstein reports that the Hollywood trade publication “Variety” isn’t pleased getting scooped day in and day out on casting decisions by upstart online outfits.

“My sources at a number of different studios say that “Variety” Editor Tim Gray and various entertainment reporters at the trade have been telling publicity execs that if they give casting scoops to any of Variety’s online competition, the paper won’t run their big announcement stories in print, relegating them to online posts only,” Goldstein writes. “When I spoke to Gray, he acknowledge the new policy, saying: ‘We simply said that if you give any of these show business websites the story first, then we’ll put the story on the Web, for the record, but we won’t put it in the print edition.’”

Goldstein said he assumed the policy was aimed at Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood, “because the Web’s hot-headed gossip queen had hired away top “Variety” reporter Mike Fleming and has regularly trashed the trade’s too-little, too-late coverage, frequently boasting about how often she beats “Variety” to scoops. But Gray insists the directive applies to “any site that reports showbiz news, which presumably includes The Wrap, Vulture or the host of film-related blogs at my own paper.”

HollywoodNews.com spoke with a PR chief at one of the major studios today who said that the larger problem for consumers of entertainment news is the accuracy of information being leaked.

“Everybody is lowering the standard of what used to be reported,” the studio publicist said. “Every day it seems to get lower and lower what seems to be picked up.” He said it’s “very hard for the consumer seeing these things on line and figuring out what is true and what is not.”

But for Variety to think that it can force studios to comply is naïve, the publicist continued.

David Poland, who writes The Hot Blog at the Movie City News website, writes that “two minutes is about the length of an ‘exclusive’ these days. And 95% of movie industry news starts – and often ends – with the “news” being “fed to an outlet.” Same as it’s been for decades… only those outlets are no longer just The Trades, the LAT, the NY Times, or Geek Site A, B or C.”

Goldstein quoted one studios PR chief as saying of Variety’s stance: “It’s a terribly analog way of thinking in a digital world. It’s just a totally unrealistic response, since if we’ve learned anything about the flow of information these days, it’s that it gets out in all sorts of uncontrollable ways. The minute we have a meeting or make a decision, it’s up on someone’s blog. We’re not the announcer anymore. We’re the responder to what someone’s already written. All we can do most of the time is damage control.”

Nikki Finke responds to Sharon Waxman’s rumor

By ROBERT W. WELKOS
We now know why Nikki Finke wrote this odd “advisory” to readers of her popular blog saying there is no truth to rumors swirling in Hollywood that she will leave her post as the general manager and editor-in-chief of Deadline.com.

One of Finke’s competitors, Sharon Waxman of The Wrap, quoting unidentified sources, questioned whether Finke’s employement contract with Jay Penske’s Mail Media Corporation “doesn’t have all the I’s dotted and t’s crossed.”

In her blog, Waxman asks: “could Nikki Finke be in talks to sell herself yet again? The word I hear from one source involves a scenario in which La Finke, much feared, widely read, deeply disliked, could leave Deadline.com for another job elsewhere. I agree this sounds unlikely, given that she sold her site just last summer to Jay Penske’s Mail Media Corporation for a cash sum and a 10-year deal that has been estimated anywhere from $10 million to $15 million. But that’s what I’m hearing. I can’t say more about the job, but it would be editorial and based here in the entertainment industry. Could she be tempted away to a bigger job, with a wider platform and leave Deadline.com behind? And where would that leave Jay Penske? Or Mike Fleming for that matter.”

Finke responded before Waxman had posted anything, saying: “You’re stuck with me.”

“I’m amused how some showbiz websites getting the shit kicked out of them by Deadline want me gone permanently (preferably feet first). But wishing doesn’t make it so. And rumor-mongering won’t help either. The fact is that Deadline’s surprising editorial and financial success opens up a lot of opportunities almost daily.”

She noted that in December, the Hollywood Reporter approached her about becoming the trade’s new editor-in-chief and that last January they made her a “very lucrative financial offer.” But instead of negotiating any such deal, Finke said, she put MMC together with the new THR owners creating “dialogue” on some “mutually beneficial business.”

Exclusive Video: Paparazzi stake out Jesse James’ West Coast Choppers

By ROBERT W. WELKOS

Employees at the Long Beach, CA., custom motorcycle shop, West Coast Choppers, were tight-lipped Friday when a reporter approached them asking for comment about the sex scandal swirling around their boss, Jesse James, the husband of Oscar-winning actress Sandra Bullock.

James, the bad ass TV host of the Discovery Channel’s popular series “Monster Garage,” had issued an apology the previous day after a report surfaced in “In Touch” magazine that he had carried on an affair with a tattoo and fetish model named Michelle “Bombshell” McGee.

Below EXCLUSIVE VIDEO inside Jesse James’ West Coast Choppers Shop


News of the affair prompted Bullock, one of the most popular stars in Hollywood, to call off her appearance at the London premiere of her hit film, “The Blind Side.” She reportedly moved out of the couple’s beachfront home in Sunset Beach after the scandal broke.

“That’s his business,” said one person leaving West Coast Choppers, when asked how the sex scandal is affecting James?

Internet news and gossip websites and newspaper tabloids have been abuzz all week after McGee went public with allegations that she had been sleeping with Bullock’s husband over an 11-month period, including times when Bullock was on location filming “The Blind Side.”

James issued an apology to his wife and children Thursday, saying, “There is only one person to blame for this whole situation, and that is me.”

On Friday, paparazzi sat in a line of cars parked curbside across the street from West Coast Choppers waiting for any sign of James, or Bullock, for that matter. She was rumored to be out of town.

One paparazzo who only identified himself as “Damon,” said James was reportedly seen at the motorcycle shop earlier in the day.

Another paparazzo said that a photo or video of James outside his shop could bring “five figures, with $50,000 the tops” for the photographers patiently waiting in their cars. But if Bullock were to show up, he said, and if she had tears in her eyes, or if she were to show up hand-in-hand with James, then the “sky’s the limit” on what that footage or photos would earn on the open market.

Given the scintillating nature of the story, an Oscar-winner in hiding, her bad boy husband and his alleged affair with a stripper, everyone is wondering how the sex scandal will play out and if there are other women out there ala Tiger Woods who will want to claim affairs with James.

Meanwhile, it was business as usual Friday in sun-drenched Long Beach at West Coast Choppers on Anaheim Street, where a few customers were seen walking along a window-side row of gleaming motorcycles parked in the showroom. The choppers all had intricate designs, one even had the image of a sexy woman adorning its fuel tank.

And up the block, lunchtime business appeared brisk at James’ organic diner Cisco Burger, named after his beloved pit bull who is now deceased.


Below EXCLUSIVE VIDEO of PAPARRAZI,


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