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Deadline Hires ex-Variety Staffer Speier as Managing Editor

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood September 15, 2010 at 8:01AM

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.
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Thompson on Hollywood

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]

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.