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Queen of the closed loop of Hollywood news.

Queen of the closed loop of Hollywood news. (photo)

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What makes Tad Friend’s massive New Yorker piece on Nikki Finke a must-read is its angle of genial observation. Finke is the feared, acerbic queen of the hermetic world of Hollywood industry reporting and blogging, but Friend’s sympathetic depiction levels the playing field, presenting her to a wider audience in the same way the magazine would profile a respected city-planning engineer or an obscure author. She’s no omniscient power-broker, just another curiosity, and Friend admirably unpacks a nuanced portrait of her and what she means to Hollywood.

A key quote: “Unlike most Web-based journalists who cover Hollywood, Finke is not a film buff. Her favorite movies include ‘Legally Blonde.’ Jeremy Gerard, who edited her when she wrote for New York a decade ago, says, ‘Nikki doesn’t care about content–she’s interested in power, and in who’s doing what to whom to achieve power, maintain power, and expand power.’ “

Unlike Anne Thompson or Jeffrey Wells — who combine industry news with the odd critical judgment and the basic sentiment that the movies are ultimately what matter — Finke cares only about real-time reporting of studio power machinations. Her audience is a closed loop: the people who care about what she covers are pretty much the ones she’s writing about. For most everyone else, there’s an odd void at the core of her reporting: it covers what happens, but not why it matters, aside from the fact that Finke herself is at the center of it, the world’s busiest telephone switchboard operator.

Finke’s typically gracious response to the piece was to brag about how it was “easy to manipulate” Tad Friend as well as editor David Remnick, “whom I enjoyed bitchslapping.” More to the point, Finke is fuming that the New Yorker “really bent over for Hollywood,” acceding to publicity requests to delete “every reference to Paramount’s Brad Grey,” as well as other sundry omissions.

She’s missing the point. What she wanted was to have “the truth” about certain people/rivalries exposed; what she got as an article that says, as mildly as possible, that Finke’s power is ephemeral. She’s not the modern Hedda Hopper, helping to ruin the careers of people she dislikes with a single keystroke; she’s a conduit for gossip in an industry where senseless firings and upheavals are the unstoppable norm. The world may care about what the studios put out, but about who’s in charge of them at any particular moment? Not so much.

[Photo: Nikki Finke]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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