MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland

Elvis Leaves Another Auditorium

No real surprise here.  If, as Nikki Finke slithers, this is over the Source Code review, the likely behavior that got him fired was not responding. This has been Elvis’ m.o. in most situations in which he Houdini’d. (KCRW would like us all to notice that he has shown up for work and consistently delivered a weekly show there for years now.)

But never let it be said that Elvis’ screw-ups can ever match the scumbaggery of his most recent employers (and be clear, that includes none of the employees of Movieline, who have chosen the rowing bowels of MMC over unemployment).  Or is that douchebaggery?  I don’t know… what would be funnier to think about repeating over and over in court after the next impotent legal threat?

When studio jerks have used the “fire ’em in public” strategy, it’s been cover for their major, job-threatening mistakes. EXCLUSIVEly firing Elvis, without even getting the full story from her in-house source, is just nastiness for nastiness’ sake… and for obsessive fear of being seen as #2. Well, you are #2, Nikki. #1 at being #2.  This is your exclusive journalistic skill.

I don’t know whether Penske knows about Nikki’s choice. He might have encouraged it.  He might be embarrassed by it.  The only thing I know Penske to be guilty of is indulging Nikki’s behavior. No matter how many of his other employees demand to be more than a 10′ pole away from Nikki and her vicous private attacks, he doesn’t seem to understand that they are all right and she is an embarrassment… The Charlie Sheen of bloggers… abusive, attention getting, and lacking any grace.

Whatever we think of Elvis, he is still (at last count) employed by Harvard and NPR, and will have “former lead critic, NYTimes” lead his obit… which is more than most critics  can say. But rushing to report firings is ambulance chasing journalism in 98% of cases. Doing it to someone your own company has hired and fired in just 3 months as a Saturday night EXCLUSIVE is grave robber level journalism. 

You should  stick to Deadline’s best loved role in Hollywood… monkey to powerful and inexcusable organ grinders. 

But no… instead we’ll just get a TOLDJA when Stu writes an official entry about Elvis’ exit. Sigh…

18 Responses to “Elvis Leaves Another Auditorium”

  1. NickF says:

    I’ve listened to his podcast. Seems like a decent guy when interviewing Hollywood types and discussing films. I don’t know why some people self-sabotage themselves like he’s prone to.

    Nikki has been so scummy now for so long that I’m desensitized to whatever she does. Give me an early box office report and I’ll formulate an opinion based on what I know. The spin in those columns has gotten out of hand.

  2. Daniel says:

    David, we need context for your commentaries sometimes. Please post a news link or give a synopsis at the top. Often I have no idea what the initial situations are about because the news is so insider-y. In this case the news stories are still at the top of the news feed on the main page so they’re easy to find, but if I read THB a few days from now that wont be the case. It would be helpful to have the embedded links in your commentaries. I’ve thought this for some time but just now am I writing. Anyway, I’ve been a loyal reader since Roughcut.

  3. LexG says:

    Sorry, reprinting from another site, but bears repeating:

    Poor guy, seriously… Think of all the shit Ebert gets factually wrong in his reviews; Though if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it in every piece about a wrongly fired movie critic:

    Most of these guys seem to still find work, or another niche on the web or on TV. Much as we grieve all these critic firings, I have yet to hear about one of these guys ending up stocking shelves at Target or collecting fares in a booth on the New Jersey Turnpike.

    If someone has money to throw away PAYING Gabe Toro, Nick Shrager, Ed Gonzalez, Jen Yamato, et al, to write reviews, I’m pretty sure ELVIS MITCHELL isn’t gonna be manning the soup aisle on night stock shift anytime soon.

  4. Sloaner says:


    If you checked Nikki’s page or googled “Elvis finke” the story is immediately accessible. I think we’re in an age where getting information is so easy that links on a commentary blog are unnecessary. And beyond that DP often has links anyway.

  5. David Poland says:

    Daniel, my apologies. I am on the road, via iPad, and like Sloaner says, I sometimes assume that the info is so readily available that I don’t need to recap.

    And Lex, you’re wrong. Lots of these folks are scrambling for work. And many of them do not suck. Some are even quite good.

    Elvis is one of those characters who I find massively overrated as a critic. He manages up well to celebrity and execs… but is not a great thinker on film. He is iconic and dreaded. But never been a great critic.

    He has had more opportunity than ANYONE… and pissed most of it away.

    I wish him luck. I don’t care whether he is writing anywhere or not. And ironically, he is the opposite of most hires at MMC. They have hired some real workers over there, including Srephanie Z. But they want high profile names… and that has been where most of the problems are.

    Finally, a more dastardly notion has occurred to me since writing this. What if this Finke-y piece is an attempt to establish cause for firing him? That would be ugly. (Of course, more likely that Elvis never signed an employment agreement and couldnt functionally be fired anyway. Much more his style.)

  6. IOv3 says:

    That’s a weird reason to fire someone. Seriously, that’s just a bunch of weirdness.

  7. Joe Leydon says:

    Just in case anyone was wondering why their Internet connection seems so slow today — it’s because so many critics are e-mailing resumes to MMC to replace Elvis. Hmmm. That reminds me: Have I updated my resume lately? Better go check…

  8. nikki whisperer says:

    My guess is that Nikki felt threatened and didn’t want anyone high profile and well-connected at MMC that wasn’t under her thumb. She basically has already co-opted Fleming — he’s the only journalist there that was at least her equal (if not more) in terms of stature and access, but he’s damaged his brand by tying his by-line to her bile — and when she saw an opening of weakness via this whole tempest-in-a-teapot “did Jeffrey Wright smoke a pipe” issue, she pounced. Mitchell probably compounded it by being a flake, but the whole thing is so ridiculous he probably thought it didn’t even dignify a response.

  9. nikki whisperer says:

    Been thinking about it more and think the real reason Nikki decided to go ballistic on Mitchell (aside from the obvious Summit/Mel Gibson interview quid pro quo) was because she was outraged that a fellow MMC employee didn’t have the smarts to do what she would have done when faced with controversy over an inaccurate article — namely, delete the offending line after-the-fact and pretend it never existed.

  10. anghus says:

    How does this measure up with a review that includes bits from an internet leaked screener that didn’t appear in the final cut?

  11. LYT says:

    anghus – David’s open when he does something like that, as I recall. Elvis wasn’t – he had a chance to explain himself and he did not. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if this were merely a final-straw type thing.

    “He has had more opportunity than ANYONE… and pissed most of it away.”


  12. Don R. Lewis says:

    I mentioned this on twitter but will repeat here….I think there’s more to the story than a simple firing over an error in a review. Look at the guys track record and as David said- he gets a SLEW of opportunities and loses them quickly. I don’t know if he gets too busy bites off more than he can chew or what but I also think the dude might be a big time flake. Also, as DP noted, he never addressed the SOURCE CODE issue at all. The whole thing is a weird story.

  13. Iris Heard says:

    Don seems to be barking up the right tree. When you’re reading a story about a guy’s history, phrases like “Caught at the border with twelve grand in cash concealed in a box” kind of leap out at you. As does “We hired him for an editorial job at the LA Times and he never showed up.”


  14. JKill says:

    Does anyone else listen to his radio show “The Treatment”? It’s pretty great 30 minute interviews with directors/writers/actors. I’m more familiar with him from that and his TCM show “Under the Influence” than his reviews but from both of those I consider him to be pretty wonderful at what he does.

  15. indiemarketer says:

    Nikki “threatened”? Only if Elvis cleaned out her refrigerator and was knocking off the food delivery guys upon arrival.

  16. anghus says:

    indiemarketer, for the win.

    i still get chuckles on the irony of a show biz hating shut in being the destination for entertainment industry news.

    that’d be like the most popular sports writers being giant nerds who never played a sport in their lives…

    hmmmmmm. there’s a pattern forming here.

  17. David Poland says:

    Funny… Didn’t recognize the Anghus thing as a shot at me. Not sure it was, since I’ve never done that, actually. (assuming Hostel 2)

    It is possible to overthink this Elvis thing. As others have mentioned, there is belt-tightening at MMC. I can promise you that Elvis Mitchell reviews were not moving the bar on page views there. He wasn’t really ever heavily promoted.

    Was his Source Code f-up a door through which other agendas could walk? No doubt. Whose agendas? Don’t know. Probably not about Nikki being threatened by Elvis. There are a dozen highly possible scenarios and none of us (unless you are reading at MMC) knows the answer.

  18. Anghus says:

    It wasnt a shot at you.

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