Thursday, May 31, 2012

When Do You Write Broadway Stories About Big Stars ... And When Do You Stay On The Sidelines?

OK – so if Scarlett Johansson and Chris Pine were to land roles in, say, a David Fincher movie…than everyone would knock themselves out confirming, rewriting, posting, etc. No thought about it. Big stars in a big movie = story. But the New York Times reports today that she's a definite yes -- and that he's close -- for “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” on Broadway. So what happens?

Alan Horn Running Disney Studios: Kim Masters Wins

She had her exclusive tip up at 12:13 p.m. and that's really all that mattered here. In it, she also told us that an announcement would be forthcoming...which indeed was correct. She updated the item once the release came through. Frustratingly, while THR's alert was sent at 12:16, I received it at 12:19 -- ya gotta see wazzup with that lapse. But still -- weighing everything, she had it first. Deadline posted the full press release at 12:17 and its alert came to me at 12:18. Variety posted a two-line story at 12:16, and I received its alert at 12:19. The Wrap had a smallish story up at 12:20, but I got the alert at 1:01.

What Makes A Winner -- The Posting Timestamp Or The Alert Timestamp?

That’s the fun little question. This morning showcased the perfect example after news broke that the Emmys are combining the lead and supporting actor/actress awards in the miniseries and movie category. Variety posted at 9:08, while Deadline followed with a 9:16 post. But the alerts tell a different story. I got my Deadline one first, at 9:19…while Variety’s came at 9:20. So sure, it could be all about “servers” (a familiar excuse I hear…yawn)…and people can obviously create the shell of a story as early as they want and then fill things in, making it look like they posted earlier. I have no idea if any of that happened here. All I know is that alert times will now factor into my analysis, barring anything that shows obvious exclusivity. For what it’s worth, THR posted at 9:32 and the alert came at 9:35. The Wrap's posting timestamp says 9:30, but the alert came to me at ... 10:56?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Stories You Should Have Had: The 'Battleship' Free Pass

I’m not saying you didn’t slam it. I’m saying nobody wrote a story like this that said it feels like it’s getting much more of a free pass than “John Carter.” I’ve been thinking about it in my own head ever since it came out: So many people were mauled, destroyed and ruined -- for weeks -- over Disney’s movie…while the Peter Berg film seems to represent just another costly misfire. Its failure is really just relegated to normal box office stories everywhere (except for this), while “John Carter” had volumes and volumes and volumes written about it. So good on Patrick Goldstein for saying something. 

'G.I. Joe' Shows Readers That Every Second Counts

I've been sorting through the interesting story that broke yesterday about the decision to delay its release. Nikki got there first by posting this terrific behind-the-scenes item at 9:32 p.m. She certainly was, um, prescient, because she knew exactly when to scoop Kim Masters’ story, which hit the street in print today (and posted online last night at 9:37, after Nikki broke it open). If the THR editors were holding this story in order to time it to the print item, then boy, therein lies the danger, no? For whatever best laid plans one constructs, it’s simply risky to wait.


Overnight you received the “Prometheus” review alerts from THR and Variety. I can’t really tell if Justin Chang likes it, but he thinks it’s "chatty" and that it will be a major box office player (if he’s wrong, I’ll be back). Todd McCarthy doesn’t say anything about its turnstile prospects, but he does say it won’t hit “classic’ status because it doesn’t take enough chances. Me? I think it looks like that awful Barry Levinson movie, "Sphere"...but I'm sure it's much better. I’ll say this about the review presentations: THR knows how to take care of previous stories -- it calls attention to four other "Prometheus"-related items. Variety still just cuts and pastes the review. Nothing on any other stories at all.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Kevin Costner Means Record Ratings: Who Had It First?

The dreamboat is back, baby. History Channel’s “Hatfields & McCoys” scored record numbers, making it the top non-sports telecast in ad supported cable history (I sound smart, but that’s actually verbiage the network spewed to the reporters, who in turn are all spewing it to us). Forget the lingo…the real question is, who had it first?

Why Are Deep Dives So Few And Far Between?

Over the weekend, I read this sharp and extensive New York Magazine piece about the New York Times and Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. It’s a keen and well-researched look at internal strife, nasty politics and personal relationships ... and I couldn’t help ask myself why the trades don’t do much of this. Daniel Miller and Matt Belloni’s recent Kim Dotcom piece was excellent, and it shows that the potential is there for "long" journalism. But it’s still too seldom that we get this kind of laser beam-like, purposeful and investigative reportage.

Monday, May 28, 2012

My Unsolicited, Unscientific But Educated And Reasonable Look At The Hollywood Reporter's Blogs

My attention has always been drawn to the blog strategy of the old-school trades. Variety and THR were so reluctant to move in an opinion-centric direction, so when the web-olution hit, they listened to the bosses and stuck mainly to their news strategies. That decision didn't serve them well in terms of traffic or mojo.

But THR's blogs show that they have done a very good job at evolving: They look good, are easy to read, and some of them are niche enough to really differentiate the site and therefore the writers. As a general suggestion, I would raise their profile -- although some of them show up on the top left rail and the top nav bar (very nondescript), the shout-out badges, which I really like, live more than half-way down on the homepage. And as you'll see, I have a lot of problem with many of the blogs' names..and names are everything. But making the good ones more prominent "above the fold" should be a no brainer both editorially and aesthetically. And let's see what the good ones are.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

LATEST DEVELOPMENT...It's Bush/Gore All Over Again With Hanging Chads And Everything...Now The Wrap Joins Variety As Cannes Champions

2ND UPDATE: I mentioned below that I didn't seen a Wrap news alert and asked for your help in securing proof. And so you listened -- some of you sent me what appears to be a copy of a 10:52 alert that indeed went out and was received. So it looks like we have a late challenger to the crown. But since I never got it and therefore needed evidence from another source, I'm declaring a dual champion FOR NOW. So there. Keep me posted, everyone...if this is inaccurate, let me know. I will keep updating if I have to.

UPDATE: Congrats, Variety -- you were the clear victor. The alert was the only thing that mattered today, and I got yours at 10:54 a.m. Nice one, Justin Chang and Peter Debruge.

Deadline gets points for doing that thing they do -- sending alerts for all of the winners as they happened in real time -- but alas, their "Amour" news break came to me at 10:56.

The Hollywood Reporter's alert arrived in my inbox at 10:59. And no, Todd McCarthy's breaking news column (also sent as an alert) doesn't make it better. You had a whole staff there for much of the festival, gang. Should have done better than the bronze medal.

I got a Wrap Cannes Newsletter at 1:32. I can't believe there was no breaking news alert earlier than that. If there was one and I missed it, please let me know.

Friday, May 25, 2012

BOX OFFICE STORIES: Blow Up The Status Quo And Try Something New Already

Some of you know how I feel about box office stories. Worse than Chilean film industry stories or hyped guest blog posts from unknown people. The state of today's box office reporting is this: lazy. The stories, as they are written now, don't differentiate sites and writers from other sites and writers. They're the same. Of course, as you know (and are sick of hearing), I don’t include Nikki in my assessment, because her posts usually go beyond rote reportage. People actually GO to her site for box office results. Nobody goes to the other sites for the numbers, except for cursory glances at the headline. But since it’s in the trades’ DNA to cover box office, how about the rest of you shake things up…finally. It’ll be painful at first, but the reward could be worth it.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Does One Tweet -- And One Tweet Alone -- Mean You Broke The Story?

I enjoyed a healthy exchange today with a reader who wanted to know how respected Journalist B could have the balls to post an exclusive story based on a rumor that respected Journalist A tweeted – and only tweeted. I didn’t really understand why this was even a debate. How could running with something that started out as just “I heard…” from someone else be considered dodgy? I mean, isn't that the whole point of being a reporter -- to hear about things and then pursue them? So I asked again to be clear…”You mean, someone heard a tip, pushed it out on Twitter…and that means it’s theirs alone?

Bradley Cooper & Anthony Hopkins: THR, Deadline Win

Only two bona fide starry breaks this morning. Borys was front and center with this one re: Cooper’s first producing project (in which he’ll probably also star). And Mike had this little nugget about Hopkins joining “Red 2.”

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Who Had What? A Roundup Of So-So Exclusives

Feels like a Cannes hangover. Not a great news day yesterday, but almost everyone had something exclusive of note from mid-day onward...

Deadline broke this one, about the "G.I. Joe" sequel moving to 2013.
The Hollywood Reporter trumpeted this, about Universal venturing back into toy territory with Hero Factory robots.
Variety marked its territory with this "Fringe" cable rerun story late in the day.
The Wrap fashioned this propietary list, about breakout summer actors.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

'The Great Gatsby' Trailer: Who Had It First?

Well, well -- not one day after my post decrying the lack of urgency surrounding trailers, everyone seemed to hop to it this time, going nuts for Leonardo DiCaprio, Baz Luhrmann and a lot of rich white people who smoke. It looks overproduced, beautiful and set piece-y. But surely, the important question is...who had it first?

Go Ahead, Make Fun Of The Drudge Report -- But We All Desperately Need It

UPDATE: A good day for The Wrap, as this story about Paul Thomas Anderson and Tom Cruise got Drudge's attention as well.

Always fun to see the power of the Drudge Report. Today’s example, a general ratings story about CNN's shocking decline, is a perfect lesson in why he’s hugely important to metrics and, therefore, advertising. Even though THR has the exact same story, Deadline was “chosen” to be linked … and now Nikki gets the audience and the comments. And who knows why one gets chosen over the other: maybe Deadline posted first, maybe they alerted him first. But the aggregator is all about trust and relationships, and he knows that Nikki’s site is a news factory. Which poses the question: What is the Drudge pecking order among the trades?

Penn State And Natalie Portman: Deadline, THR Win

No, the Oscar winner will not be starring as Jerry Sandusky. Instead, there were two solid exclusives this morning: Mike Fleming has the first major movie to rise from the Penn State scandal, and from Cannes, Pam McClintock and Borys Kit have Portman kicking ass in a Western.

Actually, Yes -- Alf Really Is More Interesting Than Cannes

I have no idea what the driving force was for this Alf story by THR’s Jordan Zakarin, but I like it...and it's a refreshing break from the Cannes circus blanketing so much trade space. The story is part Where Are They Now? and part What The Fuck? -- and it's extremely readable. I’ve always wondered why there aren’t more of these things being assigned; the industry is full of creative millionaires who just disappeared, so finding and profiling them on a regular basis seems like a great idea for any site. Just read this thing, everyone, and make a note. Then make something like this a permanent fixture. Because, if done like this, they’re great. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Tom Cruise & 'The Magnificent Seven': Variety Wins

Even Jeff Sneider himself says that the project is a "long way off" and "not in Cruise's immediate plans." But still, if the actor is attached then he's attached, so fair game, right?. And anyone with the balls to pull the trigger on an exclusive of this size deserves a hat tip. Now, if it turns out to be bullshit on every level...then I'll be back. In the meantime, I sense this one's going to seriously piss off some of Jeff's competitors.

Los Angeles Press Club Nominations: The Hollywood Reporter, Nikki Finke Do Better Than The Wrap, Variety

The Hollywood Reporter -- 22 nominations
Deadline -- 5 nominations
The Wrap - 4 nominations
Variety - 2 nominations

The complete list is here. THR's good showing is repped in several different categories by Kim Masters, Alex Ben Block, Todd McCarthy, Tim Goodman, Merle Ginsberg, Daniel Miller, Tim Appelo, M.G. Lord, Shirley Halperin, Paul Bond, Stacey Wikon, Lacey Rose, Shanti Marlar, Jennifer Laski, Jenny Sargent, Carrie Smith and Wesley Mann. Deadline's nomination haul was all for Nikki Finke, who scored five. The Wrap's three are for Tim Molloy and a couple of pieces by contributor Richard Stellar. Variety’s lone representative is the quietly solid political blogger Ted Johnson, who has two items nominated.

Our Readers Love Movie Trailers -- So Why Are They Not A Giant, Sexy Priority?

As the teaser for Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" debuts today, I’ve always wondered how well movie trailers do for news sites. I sure like them, and they’re fairly low-hanging fruit that easily jazzes things up. But I also wonder why nobody in the trade space has mastered the presentation, the distribution and the overall “bigness” that trailers represent. THR had “Skyfall” leading the site this morning, an idea I like…but it doesn't happen all the time, and their trailers are either strewn throughout the homepage or actually buried here, tucked away on the video page once they fall away from the general news roll. Variety often places the trailers here in their Boffo blog but doesn’t particularly call them out in a more significant way. The Wrap has no dedicated place for them at all. Deadline actually does highlight a trailer section here on the homepage (on their top tab). I’m not a fan of the “hot” designation (feels a bit '80s), but they are trying to do something solid. But still, why won’t these sites work harder to make them more of a major component, both aesthetically and editorially? 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

REVIEWING THE REVIEWS: Variety Wins -- But The Bosses Owe Their Critics A Lot More

If you've read me at all during the past two weeks, you know I'm all about separation. To evolve means to differentiate yourself. Especially in the entertainment trade world, where everyone has (mostly) the same crap. So when I see separation, it makes me happy...and Variety's Cannes reviews indeed make me happy. Their critics' breadth is unmatched, the staff travels very well, and it's the one editorial area that the publication truly dominates. So that's the good news. The frustrating reality: I just don't know why the organization's leaders do their best to hide that domination.

Happy Sunday, Little Darlings -- And Remember...

...anonymous commenting is allowed. I know you want to say something. Or maybe I'm delusional. But based on all the emails you've sent to me this past week -- and some really positive feedback -- I think you've got some things to get of your chest. (Just make sure you do it from your personal computers. Don't get pinched.) I appreciate all of you who have sent me notes, and I look forward to another week of "Adventures In Journalism."

Saturday, May 19, 2012

When A Fired Showrunner Pens A 'Goodbye' Letter, Then Post The 'Goodbye' Letter...Don't Just Write About It

UPDATE: A kind reader pointed me to this (thank you). Variety had it up all day. Not the whole letter, but excerpts. But it's not linked in their news story, so I missed it. Still, (kind of) good on them. I've amended my item below by taking them out of the WTF group.

EARLIER: Nellie - you understand. So thank you for running with this. But am I missing something? Did everyone else do the obvious thing and post Dan Harmon's actual screed telling his fans that he got axed from "Community" duty? But there's this (where the letter is at least linked) and this. This actually happens more often you think, and it's a headscratcher. So many of us you are trained to "report" -- all the time -- so it goes against your better instincts to just take something and post it. But is it also a laziness issue? How hard its it to create a shell in which something like this lives? As you can see on Deadline, the letter is funny and it reads better when taken as a whole and standing alone. And more to the point, I don't want your take on the letter, Mr./Mrs. Journalist...I just want the goddamn letter.

Colin Firth As Noel Coward: Who Had It First?

This is always the kind of story I like to track. Basically, I turn on the computer not knowing ANYTHING that has happened today...and boom, everybody has the exact same story posted pretty much at the same time (which, of course, means that among an entire industry of entertainment reporters, nobody had any sources to help them gain the exlcusive). Today it's this one: Colin Firth starring as Noel Coward. It came from Cannes, evidenced by the fact that the company putting the movie together is called BiteSized Entertainment. Nope...I haven't heard of them either. But anyway...since it went wide...the important question we all want to know is...who had it first?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Listen To Me, Everyone: Wouldn't It Be Smart To Build A Dedicated Module For Your Exclusives?

Some of your stuff is good. Real good. And calling attention to those items is part of the game, right? I mean, don't you want to differentiate your site? I know, I know...some of you "get-off-my-lawn" folks will continue to scoff at my efforts instead of maybe considering a decent idea from someone not in an office. But look, today brought some decent exclusives. Like this, this and this. Nothing too huge, but still ...  if the point is to separate from others, then why not create a home where all of them are displayed. I would certainly come back over and over to catch a quick glimpse of what you opposed to wading through the duplicative crap that all of your competitors have. Keep score, guys. Be proud. Show off...and win. Happy Friday. Peace.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Alex Proyas, Egypt And Summit: Who Had It First?

A lot of Cannes-ish stuff today, but the one that caught my eye this lazy afternoon was director Alex Proyas and Summit teaming for the seemingly pricey "Gods of Egypt." Mainly because it feels strange to see Lionsgate and the "Twilight" company now being BFFs on projects...and also, all the reporters' wheels started to turn at the same time on this one.

So indeed, the important question is...who had it first?

UPDATED...BOX OFFICE CIRCUS: 'The Dictator' And The Case Of The Headline Switcheroo

UPDATE: This is pretty amazing, actually. I don't need to offer any opinion. The facts are the facts. More details below...

At 1:11 a.m., The Hollywood Reporter sent out their box office alert, and this was the headline (their article headline didn't have the word SOLID in it; this was the alert headline):


Then Nikki posted a story at 2:00 a.m. (doesn't anyone sleep?). Anyway - here's the headline:

The Hollywood Reporter sent out another alert, this time at 8:18 a.m., and the headline was this:


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Harvey Weinstein, Osama Bin Laden, Mike Fleming: Now This Is What A Cannes Story Should Be

This is more like it. A good story, major players, exclusive...and some insight (it's going to be released before this Kathryn Bigelow film, which Sony decided to hold until December). I'm also happy to see Mike back in the game after a few days of not-too-many major items. I'm thumbing through the past few posts, and there hasn't been much (no, Bruce Dern and James Toback/Alec Baldwin don't count). So good on Mike. I hope he keeps his eyes on the big Cannes stuff while everyone else writes dumbass stories about companies like Nu Image...or things like this. Usually he does.

CANNES CIRCUS: Has-Been Actor Joins Cast Of Israeli Movie From Unknown Director

John Cleese is getting a job. In an Israeli film. From a director nobody except people in his own family has ever head of. So in other words, holy shit...this is now apparently good enough to be a story. Idiots.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Aaron Sorkin And Steve Jobs: Why Didn't Anyone Get The Exclusive?

I'm very surprised that this one -- the Oscar winner has been tapped to write the screenplay based on Walter Isaacson's great biography -- was a general press release from Sony; it's the kind of story that would have been a nice splash for someone. But that's a question for the studio, as they decided to go wide -- so I'm sure plenty of reporters are pissed. A look at the posting cascade shows that The Wrap went first at 5:46. Variety followed at 5:53. Deadline landed next at 5:54, as did The Hollywood Reporter. And honestly, the fact that Deadline didn't get it first is strange, as they have been on the Sorkin train for years, with exclusive stories like this and this and this. You can tell that they were frustrated, as they simply posted the release.

Universal Loves Osama Bin Laden: Who Had It First?

The studio will distribute director Kathryn Bigelow's next film after "The Hurt Locker" overseas (it's being released Stateside by Sony Pictures). It looks like a straight press release that just had people racing the clock to put it up. Kind of Cannes-ish -- international deal and international appeal, so what better time to announce this than right before the festival kicks off? But the important question is...who had it first?

John Travolta's Privacy And Ryan Seacrest's Real Estate Moves...Why The Hell Are You Covering This Stuff?

Whenever people start talking about what should or shouldn't be covered by the trades, I want to jam a fork in my gums. Because I've always said that, like herpes, you know it when you see it. So it's become terribly annoying -- sad, in a way -- to see stubborn editorial decisions from on high lead to a mishmash of news that waters down some of these publications' brands, and in some cases, has destroyed them. Now granted, everyone had to regroup after trade journalism went into the bidet (business-wise)...but wasn't that the time to cement an identity? Today's main culprits are The Wrap and The Hollywood Reporter, who mix Cannes and Upfront news with this and this. Garbage items. May I ask, why? Take "traffic boost" out of the potential answer pool...and ask yourself if these are the stories that will help you evolve moving forward. So here's a challenge: take a fucking stand. Stop covering everything that has a celebrity's name attached. Revisit your legacy and build it out. Variety ALMOST did that -- they made a decision to stick to what they are good at. But other things got in their way...which is a post for another day. Peace out.

Monday, May 14, 2012

DIVA SMACKDOWN! Nikki Finke Has A Juicy Story About The Wrap

No need for me to re-tell the news -- Deadline got this fair and square, so read it over there. Anyway, it's probably more fun for you folks to dive into the recent history between Queen Finke and Sharon Waxman. Last night's break that The Wrap is being sued by a documentary financier -- bylined, ironically, by ex-Wrap dude Dominic Patten -- comes eight months after this and more than a year after this. In other words, Nikki has beaten Sharon up quite a bit lately. But from what I see, the slings and arrows haven't been reciprocated. That's probably because Nikki, while "difficult," is very careful. And when it comes to bona fide journalism, she and her team happen to be fair. That's not to say Sharon hasn't tried to fire some cannon balls back. She said here that she was going to follow Nikki's moves. Remember that? But she hasn't. In fact, I haven't seen much on her site in a while about her once-friend, now-foe, and I have a suspicion it's because she just doesn't have the goods. Now, Sharon has survived quite a bit during her run. Most impressively, the site is simply still around. And while that may be a strange thing to praise, it's only right to backpat someone who has run any kind business in this arena -- and in this economy -- for this long. So in that regard, she's a survivor. And anyone who can't admit THAT isn't being honest. But this round goes to Nikki. It's a good scoop on a real suit that has relevance. (You can read THR's story here.)

Keep Your Eyes On The Hollywood Reporter's Legal Stories -- They're Good

Another solid one from the legal eagles at The Hollywood Reporter, who had this one first. This time, it's about Columbia Pictures winning a "Social Network" suit. In the press release abyss that is entertainment trade news, Eriq Gardner is getting it right: finding a niche, doing it well ... and balancing all of that with terrific judgment. Kudos, brother. I actually can't believe Jay Penske hasn't tried to poach this guy (or Matt Belloni) yet. They fit the PMC mold.

Previous: Busy Friday In Lawsuit Land

Upfront News Feast: Lots Of Stories, Lots Of Ugliness

Tradies are trying so hard to get the latest news surrounding the Upfronts, but none of them have taken the time to present it very well. Yes, there are dedicated landing pages here, here and here…but the general blog rolls or home pages are so scattered with news, that it's exhausting...and a real turnoff. And it’s going to get worse. In years past, tradies have always written stories before the networks make their announcements AND after the announcements. But in an old-school ironic twist…print used to make this stuff so much more manageable.  Because now, with all of these stories, constant updates and TV news nuggets that have nothing to do with the Upfronts, it’s just one big messy romp with nobody asking themselves, “Does this look good?”

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Liar, Liar Scott Thompson Leaving Yahoo -- And The Trades Follow AllThingsD

Technology coverage in the Hollywood trades has been terrible for years. David Lieberman does a solid enough job at Deadline and Variety's events unit does a reasonable job of injecting some DNA into the place with all of their tech-driven conferences. But still, nobody reads these publications for technology news. Rather, a quickie snapshot today shows you just how much they follow Kara Swisher, the great AllThingsD blogger. She's so plugged in, and she got this giant scoop.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

'Two And A Half Men' Returning: Everyone Plays Nice And Posts At The Same Time -- But Why?

There is so much horse trading that goes on with tradies and PR used to be about placement in the print editions, but that has now evolved into silly negotiations surrounding the times that stories "are allowed" to post. But the dealmaking also goes on between the journalists themselves, and it's almost creepy how everyone becomes colleagues instead of competitors. I can only imagine some of that went on with the announcement that the hit CBS show would be back for its 10th year. If you look at Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline, all of the timestamps say 12:00 PST. That means a few things happened: 1) The PR folks said, "you can't post until then"...and everyone actually listened to the mandate; and b) there had to be some kind of agreement in place between Nellie, Cynthia and Lacey Rose, which always seems icky, considering the whole point of this kind of journalism is to win. (The Wrap, by the way, isn't in this discussion, as they posted it at around 12:24.) I can't help but imagine at least ONE of these journalists knew this was happening beforehand. So why wait? Why help each other out? And why kowtow to the sources? Ridiculous.

'DARK SHADOWS' & 'AVENGERS' BOX OFFICE CIRCUS: Nikki Rules Again With Insight And Depth; Other 'Reporters' Apparently Tired

This is probably going to be a regular sentiment here, so if you're looking for me to bash her because that's what YOU want, then go somewhere else. Just read it. And then tell me, honestly, that her piece isn't better than the robotic "journalism" put forth by Variety, THR and The Wrap. Even the headline alone helps: she uses ANEMIC to describe "Dark Shadows." I don't give a crap one way or the other about "Dark Shadows," but anyone who bashes things in headlines -- in an industry full of "proper" journalists who were taught never to do that -- well, that's why she's just better at this. And, as always, her piece is insightful, not just full of stuff my mother already knows. Taking a look around: Gregg Kilday wrote 8 paragraphs for THR. Variety -- well, their goddamn paywall is bothering me, so I won't read it today. And The Wrap's is, also, basic. So once again -- and until someone else does this better -- Nikki wins.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Is It Just Me, Or....

What's up with Variety's timing mechanism? Random stories show up with a red timestamp throughout the day. Others don't. Am I missing something? Is it my browser? Can we you fix it, guys? Please?

Whitney Houston Reality Crap: Who Had It First?

Whitney Houston’s family is getting a reality show on Lifetime. Kill me.

But the real question is…who had it first?

Deadline posted at 10:15 a.m.
The Hollywood Reporter went at 10:23.
Variety (paywall!) followed at 10:37.
The Wrap had it at about 3:20.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Reviewing The Reviews: 'The Dictator'

The Hollywood Reporter's review of ‘The Dictator” was published at 1:30 a.m. Todd McCarthy kind of liked it. So did Peter DeBruge, whose Variety review was published at 3:30 a.m. The Wrap doesn’t yet have a review up. Deadline, of course, doesn’t review movies, because they understand business: paying people a lot of money to give an opinion rarely translates into dollars. Especially for the tight-margin trade business. But I digress: THR's review is typical Todd: cerebral, especially for a movie like this. Variety’s is the same because, of course, Peter DeBruge is one of Todd’s disciples (who took Todd's job after the great Variety purge of 2010). So the reviews are all very “cinema”-ish instead of fun reads. I can’t tell if that’s a good thing -- what keeps them different than everyonbe else – or a bad thing, considering reviews should be, ya know, enjoyable. What do you think?

What's The Latest On The Variety Sale?

UPDATE: Paid Content reporting that investment bank Evercore is leading the sale, and that 11 potential suitors are kicking the tires.

PREVIOUS: Anyone heard anything? My last source told me that June or July would be a reasonable date to expect some news...and recently, the New York Post speculated that the TV Guide folks, Open Gate Capital, would be interested. But other than that, it's been all quiet on the Variety front. If anyone knows anything, send me a note: 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Solid Weinstein Exclusive For The Wrap

A good one from the executive ranks. The Wrap reports that Sarah Greenberg Roberts wants out...and that the Weinsteins have already been looking for her replacement. Smartly, Sharon Waxman wisely surmises that the place was simply too rough for her. But Sarah's a great executive, and she did a great job at Lionsgate, so I’m assuming she simply hated it and wants out NOW. Can you blame her? People with solid professional pasts don't need to get abused when they make a move. Am I being too whimpy?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Roman Polanski's New Film: Who Had It First?

Roman Polanski is directing an anti-semitic drama. Snoozers.

But the real question is...who had it first?

Deadline posted at 11:38 a.m. and just had the press release.
THR followed at 11:55.
Variety (paywall!!) posted at 12:15.
The Wrap posted a story at 12:20.

Strange that Fleming broke it in tradeland but only went with the press release. Usually an exclusive like that would come with a real story. Which means it probably broke somewhere else? Maybe in France? I'm busy...can someone help me out?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Anatomy Of A Press Release: Oscar's Outdoor Series

UPDATE: Variety FINALLY got around to posting the news at 12:14 and some analysis on Jon Weisman's The Vote blog at 12:42. Wow. A full staff couldn't get to it until an hour later.

EARLIER: Once again, it’s so obvious why certrain trades are on fire and others are dying. Deadline posted the Oscar press release this morning at 11:15 a.m. Annoying to some, but whatever -- I like just seeing the straight release without some journalist trying to get credit for something they simply rewrote. But not soon after —at 11:50 – Pete Hammond weighed in with opinion. The way newsgathering should be. The news…then right away, some kind of analysis. The Hollywood Reporter basically just rewrote the release while neither Variety nor The Wrap, meanwhile, had anything by 12:10.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Busy Friday In Lawsuit Land: THR, Deadline Get The Goods, While Others Play Catch-up

UPDATE: Deadline FINALLY weighed in with the Raimi story at around 2:03....five hours after THR had it. The Wrap had it about 1:55. Still nothing on Variety's homepage.

The Hollywood Reporter continues its dominance over everyone else when it comes to legal stories, and really, nobody else comes close. The recently promoted Eriq Gardner had a busy Friday: First, he published the Hawaii Five-O story; then the Sam Raimi sequel story. Later, Matt Belloni chimed in with the CBS-ABC spat over the latter’s plans for a “Big Brother”-like series. So did Nellie over at Deadline. Good on them. Here’s the deal on legal coverage: Deadline has always been trying to find someone and finally did (Dominic Patten) who is only so-so plugged in. He’s better than having nothing, but I’m not sure he’s going to get the huge ones a la THR, Esq. Variety and The Wrap are pretty much moribund in that department. Just writing stories from stories they read elsewhere. No real legal breaks beyond an occasional decent one. THR, meanwhile, has really put its stamp on that corner of the trade business. Eriq and Matt are terrific in that world, and they have news judgment; they know what’s appropriate for the site and what isn’t.

BOX OFFICE CIRCUS: Nikki Finke Dominates, While Everyone Else Writes For 3rd Graders

'The Avengers' is a perfect movie to prove the point. Say what you want about the Finkester, but her B.O. posts are just great. This has always been the difficult thing for other Hollywood journalists to grasp; they hate her so much, they make fun of her so often. And they doubt her agenda. But she simply kicks everyone’s ass when it comes to this kind of reporting. Always has. The words, the presentation, the updates, the selected images … everything makes Deadline’s weekly report read-worthy. The point, fellow tradies, is that supposed “expert” publications like Variety and The Hollywood Reporter write box office reports as if they are entries in a journalism class project. Same with The Wrap...even moreso (with journeyman editor Todd Cunningham writing them now?). Boring, tedious, unexciting, robotic. Nothing very noteworthy at all besides the numbers, which are now obtainable everywhere. But as for Nikki – there’s just something about HOW she writes them that makes her pieces pop. Sorry, gang…if you want to throw grenades her way…make sure you send her flowers for the stuff she simply does better than you.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Deadline Asleep On Rob Lowe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Daytime Emmys

Deadline was snoozy today. Just a quick glance at 4:37 p.m.: Variety had a sexy item (paywall!!!) about Rob Lowe portraying the Casey Anthony prosecutor for Lifetime...and Broadcasting & Cable had a nice hit regarding the Daytime Emmys and their new home at HLN and AOL. Earlier in the day, The Hollywood Reporter had a nice one, reporting that Joseph Gordon-Levitt was reviving "Little Shop of Horrors." Come on, Deadliners!

R.I.P. Hollywood Trade Journalism

It died a horrible death about 10 years ago. Let's all poke at the body. Have fun here. And remember...the nastier, the better.