Mailbag: What’s Jay Penske Up To? His Latest Legal Threat

The mail brought a letter from Jay Penske on Thursday “a courtesy due to the recent events involving the ‘poaching’ of employees in this industry” – thanks Jay!

The mail brought a legal letter from counsel for Jay Penske, the new owner of Variety, apropos of nothing that I can think of. Curiously, the letter was about Deadline and claimed to be “a courtesy due to the recent events involving the ‘poaching’ of employees in this industry.”

“Please be advised that PMC employees, including but not limited to Nikki Finke, Mike Fleming, Pete Hammond and Nellie Andreeva, are under long term employment contracts with PMC,” it warned. “Therefore, the act of ‘poaching’  a PMC employee while he or she is under contract with PMC would be tortious interference with PMC’s employment contract” etc. etc.

It was signed by Bryan J. Freedman, Finke's and Penske’s lawyer, and it’s a head-scratcher. What is Jay worried about exactly? That other news organizations will try to hire the Deadline staff while he is focused on Variety?  Shouldn’t he be worried about folks poaching from Variety rather than Deadline?

We’ve gotten these letters from Penske before and we have a special file where we put them. Labor specialists would have a good time arguing over the credibility of such legal posturing. And tortious interference is a two-way street.

Would love anyone’s legal opinion as to why we’d get this particular letter now. We’re puzzled.  But Penske must have something on his mind. Combined with the news that Newsweek was shuttering its print edition after 80 years, it must make for him a thought-provoking day.


  • johnt

    it seems pretty clear…..they are going to kick the wrap's butt.

    • TheWrap

      well in that case what's taken them so long?

      • Penske'sVarietyVanity

        Pleasssse, The Wrap is typically following in my email alerts by 15 to 30-plus minutes after Deadline first posts most of their stories! And they only have a handful of veteran journalists manning the reporter desks there.

        if Deadline's veteran staff — although considerably under-staffed by comparison to the younger, cheaper Wrap staff — it would be that they might be contractually-bound to PMC for some UNDEFINED amount of time, but maybe they would look to bolt for another trade if there was more money and less of “real-time work load.”

        My guess is that Penske is worried that Finke could be having a meltdown and really cracking the whip with her staff in light of Variety being more of prized PMC property, I'm guessing. It's too bad that Deadline may have to take a back seat to Variety or eventually folded into the older, more prestigious publication — but that's the corporate American way. Well, that last scenario would mean less competition for The Wrap and Ms. Waxman can act and write a little more securely going-forward. Just kidding there…well, kind of!

  • SC

    I love the Wrap.

    Sometimes it clearly gets the ‘annoyingly underdeveloped snarky anonymous posters’ who are coming over from deadline to be lame on this site too. But I enjoy it as a news site about the biz and not some personal slam fest against people who have otherwise good careers like some other sites.
    Keep up the good work, Wrap. Ignore the haters (whether they be from the comment section or Penske's lawyers).

  • Karen

    The chances of Sharon poaching or wanting to poach Nikki Finke would be….????

  • Jack Lucas

    Is the file in which you put those letters round shaped by any chance?

  • SkipB

    It means that Nikki is VERY unhappy about something, and Jay is trying to scare off potential suitors, just in case. Find out what's going on with Nikki, and you have a real story to publish.

    • JA


  • Marv

    Whatever you do don't poach Nikki's lap poodle Anita Busch. That would be the end of The Wrap because she is the devil.

  • EK

    I'm older than many of you and this reminds me of the gossip columnist heyday of Louella Parsons, Dorothy Kilgallen, Walter Winchell, Earl Wilson et al. Lotsa posturing about who would stay on what paper … and nobody moved. Abel Green, the VARIETY editor in N.Y. then,did the best job anyway back when VARIETY was indeed “The Bible of Show Business.” Penske wants to return the brand to that eminence but times have changed radically and there's been considerable erosion. He's got a rocky road ahead if he's to accomplish the goal. Meanwhile, staffs are stet (although VARIETY did just change publishers). He's just flying a trial balloon to see what reaction he'll get. WRAP bit.

  • fodder

    publish the letter. mack a mockery of it and the letters will stop.

  • Ronnie

    Penske is in over his head with the witch duo of Finke and her poodle Anita Busch anyway. Good luck to him handling those two dried up mean spirited hacks!

  • Bryan Runnels

    Jay has made a big move, but he's a joke, particularly after the Nantucket incident. How can the industry trust him when he was born on 3rd base and truly thinks he hit a triple? He's more interested daddy issues than the media business