Veteran entertainment journalist Nikki Finke is embroiled in controversy after being hired by the news site Mediaite. The New York Post reports that Penske Media, which owns Deadline.com, is threatening legal action against Mediaite.
Finke created Deadline and served as its president and editor-in-chief before exiting the site in late 2013. According to The Post, Penske is claiming that Mediaite’s hiring of Finke is in breach of a noncompete clause she agreed to as part of her settlement when she exited Deadline.
The Post article cites reports saying Finke signed a 10-year noncompete clause in return for $3.5 million following arbitration.
Dan Abrams, who runs Mediaite, reportedly hired Finke to be Mediaite’s senior columnist. Abrams is quoted in the Post story saying: “Because of a noncompete agreement, she won’t be writing about the entertainment industry but everything else, including much of what Mediaite covers on a daily basis.”
The report quotes a letter from Penske’s legal team that warns: “We view coverage of the media as entertainment reporting.”
The Post also quotes a response from Abrams’ side, headed by his father, First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams. The legal letter is quoted saying it’s “beyond offensive to suggest that the news media or political journalists are entertainers and that covering them is akin to covering the ‘entertainment industry.’”
Finke launched HollywoodDementia.com last year as a place for fiction about Hollywood, written by herself and other insiders.