Source says Nikki Finke — grumpy trade blogger who traumatized and entertained Hollywood in equal measure with her vendetta-based brand of entertainment news — Died on Sunday at 68, dispelling not-so-good memories of this town .
when she moved column Hollywood Deadline from
, her reign of terror began to accelerate Los Angeles Weekly Forwarded to The Hollywood Reporter , owner of Penske Media Corporation, at 2009; she walked away after a conflict with ownership 2013. During that time, Funk became so legendary that she even became the inspiration for a HBO series.
Tilda by Dreamgirls
Conceived by director Bill Condon and Tell Me You Love Me creator Cynthia Mott. It features a star-studded cast starring Diane Keaton as Tilda Watsky, a character based on Funk’s character ; and Elliott Page, who played a studio assistant who got caught up in her network.
I was brought in 2010 as a consultant during the pre-production process of the pilot to help Verified for authenticity, worked as the online Hollywood Reporter. But Mott left the project before filming of the pilot began, citing creative differences. HBO then took issue with the completed pilot and wanted to rewrite and partially remake it.
At the time, I was asked to join a very private writers room as one of four writers who were working on the show in hopes of getting the green light. Leading the team was John Hoffman , who later worked at Grace and Frankie and most recently
Only Murders in the Building , which he co-created with Steve Martin.
After nearly a year of brainstorming, writing, rewriting, and shuffling, HBO is finally at Tilda 2011. I caught up with Hoffman and reminisced about the Nikki Finke show that was never there.
So let’s revisit Tilda, because everyone is curious. Where do we start? How did you get involved? Whose idea was it?
Bill and I were part of a small group of writers Condon, Ryan Murphy, Jennifer Salt, throughout our careers A very formative period for only a small fraction of us. At that moment, Bill and I were talking about Nikki Finke and all that. I wasn’t quite sure about doing that at the time. So he hooked up with [Tell Me You Love Mecreator] Cynthia Mort, and that became the direction of HBO . Then, Cynthia and Bill created a creative difference between after filming the pilot and through it.
Do you remember the difference or what the problem was?
I think this is actually how the material is handled. Suddenly, they felt very different in production. I think it’s pretty explosive — because when you have two creators doing something and one raises his hand and leaves, it has to be. This is a challenging time for everyone, especially Bill.
That’s when he brought me in because I’d been at HBO for a few years by then. So they knew me well, Bill knew me well, and I learned the history of the project through the group of writers I was with him. So I have a head start and I’ve been giving him something to think about – maybe do this, maybe do that.
I’ve seen pilots, sketchy: “Oh, you’re in great shape.” The cast is so extraordinary. So I have a head start. And then there’s us and your little mini-group. “That’s what I want to do,” Bill said, “is to bring people on the journalist side into this real world of work and get a few episodes [to write].” HBO struck a deal to make a few episodes.
I wrote the second episode. Then Alexa Junge ( friends , Grace and Frankie ) is another, who wrote the third episode. We worked together as a potential start for a writers room. You and I and Alexa and Bill. Anyone else?
Under Six Feet Producer] Alan Poole got involved.
Yes, He’s a non-writing producer, and when Cynthia faces a challenge, he’s trying to keep the whole thing consistent and let HBO move on with everything.
I remember [ player screenwriter ] Michael Tolkien came in. as a consultant.
Oh, Hello. Yes, no, it’s true. You’re right. He’s actually more involved. He must be in that group too. It’s all one piece. He’s also going to be in that room, so it would have been you, me, Michael, Alexa, Bill, and Ellen would also be producing.
Now, where does Nikki Finke fit in all of this?
question. We’ve all been involved in developments inspired by some famous entertainers. And there are many stories. So she just doesn’t fit into the mix at all, basically. You can never get close to her and get something she won’t go all out and try to control. At least that’s our imagination. So
Tilda was inspired by her. We have to think beyond our imaginations. Nikki and her past, her true identity and what her life was like, are a mystery. Agoraphobia and what she’s alluding to all over the place. The wicked wit in the writing and the excellent replies feel like fun to create your own version. That’s what I think we’re doing. We are inferring.
The way I remember it was she went out to the public and said, “Oh, this is stupid, and I don’t want it to happen .” But behind the scenes, she did want it to happen.
Yes, I think you are right. That’s true. I wonder when she’ll quote it, if she does, it’s shit and diss. However, I think you are right that she did not prosecute. There’s a sense of, “Oh, there’s no resistance, really.” And, yeah, we’re going to make her a legend.
Yes, that’s right. This only further mythologizes her, which is what interests her. But HBO never paid her or made her a consultant, or something like that?
I’m not sure if there is such a tacit, quiet agreement. I have no idea. But it’s not beyond imagination that something like this happens. You want her to be on your side in some way. So maybe there is a discussion. I can’t imagine she didn’t reach out to some HBO executives to let them know her thoughts. Yes, it’s easy to imagine that there might be some connection in this way.
And it’s almost a year of development and rewriting and bible writing, waiting for this series to pick up…. ..or pass.
God, has it ever been. This is where the heartbreak comes in. This is the sabotage you mentioned in your Twitter thread. Yes, it got so granular that we had to imagine the entire first season. We broke down a lot of the first season of the show in order to finish the episodes we’re talking about. Alexa Junge and I sometimes stay up all night in the office. This is a long process.
Didn’t the pilot get re-fired? They want major changes to the pilot. They want to recast Jason Patric. Then Tim Curry will be a regular in the series.
Yes. Oh my god, yes. Bill loves Tim. And, I believe Elliot Page has a bigger, deeper storyline.
Now, one thing that’s really cool, I remember, in terms of the erosion of Hollywood by technology, this is very forward-looking.
Yes. That’s there. It’s not my particular piece, but that’s why I remember Tolkien being valuable too, and so are you. This aspect of the business and where we’re going and forward thinking for all this portends is critical. This project is exciting. Except it’s just a great character study – what Diane was doing there was really new to her. I think we’re working on things that people haven’t touched.
I mean, it was all before Netflix, before streaming, but it’s definitely going that way developed.
Absolutely. Some of the scenes in the pilot are absolutely about it all, and for those of you who don’t look that way in the business, the straight graveyard is going on. You are reminding me, yes. This is one of the more exciting parts about it.
And then do you know of any conversations they have with HBO sitting on the fence? Did they give a reason?
I’m. It’s a real struggle, I know. I believe it was [former HBO show president] Mike Lombardo [overseeing the project]. So we have a meeting there. [We’re always trying to measure,] “What’s the tone of the meeting? What’s the tone of what’s going on?” We want to create an atmosphere of, “How close are we to us?” Their real desire to do this is Make the show a success and move on? Or are they doing it because of the hosting they’re dealing with? Because they love Bill, they love Diane, they love everyone, they want to do their best, but in the end we have an uphill battle.
[Former President of HBO Entertainment] Sue Naegle was there. I could be wrong, but I think Sue and Michael are at odds on this project. This doesn’t help.
I am often asked, “How can I see the pilot?” So, do you know what happened to it?
I know there is a copy near my office. I’m like a crazy hoarder. I kept it all, it was scary there, but I had to find it.
Everyone wants to see Diane as Nicky.
I know, right? What excites me in my memory is the leap in the dark parts of Diane she can create, that looking for Mr. Goodbar her No one has seen that side for a long time. It was sour and bitter and hard and good. That’s what I remember at least.
I remember watching her pilot movie and being so surprised at what she did with her character. The show features Wes Bentley, Sana Raisen and Elliott Page. I mean, it’s a good cast.
This is an amazing cast. Amazing cast.
It shouldn’t be. 2010
I know. Not on purpose, although it’s crazy. It still appears. That project is still in many people’s memories. I was surprised it was brought up so pointedly when she died. Honestly, it does. But yeah, I think it’s a missed opportunity. Damn it, Seth. correct? But we’ve made do with it. We’ve made do with it.