Nikki Finke and Deadline owner Jay Penske still at odds

Jay Penske
(Michael Kovac / WireImage)

How many Emmy Awards “House of Cards” and “Breaking Bad” will take home Sunday isn’t the only thing Hollywood is wondering about.

There is also curiosity about whether one of the sharpest-tongued critics of awards shows and industry glitz will be on hand to offer her snarky take of the proceedings.

Next to breaking big news, there is nothing Deadline Hollywood founder and editor in chief Nikki Finke likes to do more than pick apart the Oscars and the Emmys.

But a dispute with Jay Penske, whose Penske Media Corp. acquired Deadline Hollywood in 2009, may keep Finke away from the keyboard this Sunday when the Emmys are handed out.

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Technically, Finke is on vacation and still has many weeks to burn through although she is still writing her Sunday box office analysis.

But the vacation is also seen as part of a standoff between Finke and Penske. As previously reported, Finke has clashed with Penske since he acquired Variety last October. Finke was not happy that she was not given a chance for a senior role at Variety. Now she is concerned that Penske is devoting more resources to Variety than to Deadline Hollywood.

“I just want to make sure Deadline’s reason for existence is not threatened within the company and that we also get the resources we need to continue in terms of parent company help, staffing, budgets, all of that,” Finke said. “It just doesn’t seem fair to compete against my own company.”

Finke’s contract with Penske runs through 2016, but she is trying to buy Deadline back from him. If that effort is unsuccessful, she would like to start another Hollywood news site and owns the domain name

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Penske did not respond to an email seeking comment. His company has previously indicated that it intends to continue to honor its contract with Finke.

One of Finke’s beefs is that Deadline Hollywood and Variety are now often chasing the same stories. She said she would like the two outlets to “coexist amicably and help one another.” Deadline, she said, should focus on breaking news, while Variety, which has a news site and a weekly magazine, should provide analysis.

On occasion, Finke has let her dissatisfaction with Penske and Variety be known on the Deadline site. However, Finke said her relationship with her boss is on solid ground.

“We are close, very close, that hasn’t changed. Despite everything we like each other,” she said.

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Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.