Back in October of 1997, the television business was abuzz with a quote about then-NBC Entertainment President Warren Littlefield, attributed to his predecessor, Brandon Tartikoff. The quote appeared in a Nikki Finke-authored piece for Esquire. "You have to understand something about Warren,” Tartikoff said, according to Finke. “He's a cockroach. He's going to survive nuclear war."
Up to that point, there was no indication of any ill will between the two TV entertainment executives, who had worked with each other for more than a decade at NBC. And many journalists covering the business at the time flat-out didn’t believe Tartikoff would say something like that about Littlefield on the record, in the mean-spirited tone that Finke suggested.
But the quote was bulletproof. Since Tartikoff had died several months before, succumbing to a long battle with Hodgkin’s Disease, his words couldn’t be refuted.
Of course Finke was known then — and since — as a muckraking Hollywood entertainment columnist with a venomous pen.
Now it seems that one or more people in the Hollywood community are fed up with Finke’s industry coverage and are determined to rein her in. A new website, NikkiStink.com, has been created by a “group of concerned individuals” calling itself “The Committee For Decency In Journalism.” None of the individuals are identified.
The site contains an “Open Letter” to Finke that reads in part, “This website is dedicated to all of those that have been hurt, maligned, destroyed, abused or threatened by you, which allowed you to profit in the millions of dollars for hurting people." It provides a “small sampling” (about 80 entries) of the Hollywood notables that Finke has allegedly maligned over the years, including the recently deceased Robin Williams, Oprah Winfrey and Conan O’Brien.
On the site is a video of an obese-looking Finke (who, oddly for a writer covering such an exhibitionistic industry, is said to be quite camera-shy) emerging from her Los Angeles home. The accompanying song is a parody of the 1980’s Toni Basil song “Mickey” that mocks Finke’s weight.
“There is much more to be posted here in the next many months," the open letter states. "However, what is posted and how much will be determined by your decision on whether or not you continue to hurt people.”
The letter concludes, “We aren’t going to roll over anymore and take it from you. You will be a decent journalist or you will not be treated decently yourself."
That’s one of the beautiful things about freedom of speech in this country: It applies to everyone.