Variety's losses continue to be gains for its competitors, as Deadline has snapped up another ex-Variety staffer, Michael Speier, who left the dwindling trade last year (as did I) to work in corporate PR at Disney, a job that must have been a challenge for him after co-running the daily paper as executive editor. Speier not only knows the entertainment news business but gets the online side of the trade wars in a way that few of the survivors at Variety do. How strange for him to be working for Nikki Finke.
Deadline is thriving with their breaking news model, enough so that they've been hiring at a faster pace than originally planned, expanding their ranks. Thus Speier is coming in to help Finke manage the growing content on the site. Deadline has already hired costly full-time staffers Michael Fleming (NY), Nellie Andreeva (LA, TV) and Tim Adler (London).
Finke recently contracted with freelancer Pete Hammond (LA, Oscars). How ironic, a sweet guy who is known to be a film enthusiast and too-generous critic, working with the abrasive Finke (who wrote a rare valentine to his wife, marketing exec Madelyn Hammond, who after running Variety marketing, has also helped out TOH! and indieWIRE). What's that about? Premium Oscar ads, natch.
Finke used to rant about how terrible the Academy and the Oscars are: she launched her blog on Oscar night 2006 with a link on Drudge. Her trademark snark is less pervasive now that Deadline is more of a breaking news organization, and less of a one-woman band. But she wants more endemic ads, and that requires a less toxic environment. Hammond, who had been writing an online Oscar column for the LAT's The Envelope, is popular with the small band of folks who make those decisions.
[Illo courtesy of Jaime Hernandez and The New Yorker]