Ed’s Note: For months now, Twitter has been rocked by a pair of fake accounts mimicking the wit and wisdom of Hollywood’s mad aunt in the attic, Nikki Finke. The life of the first – which brilliantly replicated her name spelling – was cut short after complaints from the Queen of All Sham Journalists herself, complaints that inadvertently led to Twitter at first shutting down Nikki’s own account. Since that fake account was dismantled, the crusade continued on the account @fake_nikkifinke, which daily delivers a wonderful simulacrum of NikkiSpeak.
Today, for the first time, the genius behind these accounts has decided to lift the mask and tell the world the story of what led him down the path to being Fake Nikki.
Fake tweeting is, in a sense, a kind of method acting for lazy people who might not want to deal with the physical effort involved in things like studying and observation. We would much rather just Google for research.
As with any form of parody, there are multiple manners of approaching a fake Twitter account—broad (@SarahPaIinUSA), specific (the 14,000 increasingly niche Hulk parodies), and flat-out bizarre (@CNNNewsUSA). However, I would argue the successful Twitter parody is a confluence of all these qualities, along with some resemblance to the vague quality that defines the subject being mocked.
All of which makes someone as controversial as Nikki Finke who has the skills of a great journalist while lacking the ethical sense for those skills to mean anything – the perfect fodder for a lampooning 140 characters at a time. Despite popular belief, I am not the first person to make a fake Nikki Twitter. Or the second. Or the third. While they all burned out after a few days, I would mostly attribute my success to mere opportunism.
Although the anti-Nikki movement had been around for years, the recent fallout from her tiff with Bret Easton Ellis and his agency seemed like the first time Finke was genuinely vulnerable. Finke’s unsavory practices had long drawn the ire of fellow trade journalists and various members of the Hollywood community, but last month was the first time a genuine power player in that community wielded the legal, financial and social capital to push back against Nikki’s well-documented histrionics.
Presumably, the reason I never received any variety of legal threat through the anonymous email address associated with the account is Nikki was not entirely sure who I was. I know for a fact that she did, however, threaten people who wrote about my fake Twitter account, so I imagine there will be a bizarre tirade of dubious standing in my inbox within a half-hour of this post going online.
I am also lucky that “The Onion plus Hollywood trades” is somehow a relatively unexplored combination, which allowed the account’s fake headlines to appear somewhat novel. Not to mention that writing Onion-esque headlines seems like an ideal outlet for anyone born in the past thirty years who ever aspired to do anything humorous.
Plus, some of the headlines are genuinely things I want to see—Nic Cage starring in a Joe Biden biopic, Kanye West and Ariel Pink in buddy cop comedy directed Spike Jonze, and a talk show hosted by Werner Herzog. Part of me hoped I could at least inspire a Funny or Die sketch based on one of those ideas.
And Nikki’s antics made for some brilliant, if unpredictable, entertainment. The episode where Nikki Finke accidentally removed her own account because she couldn’t discern the difference between my account’s original handle and her own was probably more entertaining than anything I had actually tweeted.
Finally, thanks to the brilliant Richard Rushfield and Molly McAleer for inspiring the account. And aside from deciding to work with Nikki and using the site’s obnoxious in-house style, I have no qualms with most of Deadline’s writers—Mike and Nellie are genuinely talented trade reporters.
Alex Litel is a self-described “freelance human being.” Also, he sometimes tweets.