Buying the Good Graces of Deadline.com and Mike Fleming
The online Hollywood gossip blog, Deadline.com, launched its web page in 2006. Its co-editor-in-chief, Mike Fleming, arrived in 2010 following a 20-year stint with Variety as a film reporter/reviewer. In recent years, Deadline’s business has been good, owing to the fees it charges to advertise on its website.
About those fees… For what is called a “takeover” of Deadline’s home page—a single ad promoting a single program—Freedom has learned that their current fee is $46,000 per day.
A quick review shows that the A&E Network has bought advertising frequently on the Deadline home page in 2017-2018, cresting during the drive to win an Emmy Award for Leah Remini’s Aftermath reality series. In one day of full takeover advertising—including follow-up promotional ads for several days—A&E spent an estimated $75,000 during this single swift Deadline campaign for the Remini show.
Perhaps not-so-coincidentally, Deadline bombarded its audience with 21 separate stories promoting the Remini show between January 2017 and April 2018—many of them coinciding with ad revenue received from A&E. Keep in mind that during this time, Aftermath was engaged in a vicious and bigoted attack upon the Church of Scientology, with outrageously false claims made by a rogue’s gallery of former Scientologists who had been expelled from the religion for cause.
The Church of Scientology sought to even the playing field in 2018 by purchasing a takeover ad on the Deadline home page. Willing to meet the fair market price charged by Deadline, the Church submitted its ad design, shown here.
As anyone can see, the ad copy consisted only of quotations made by Leah Remini, clearly revealing that her show is an attempt to “make a dollar off my church,” and features a lineup of “guests” who never have been vetted for the veracity of their wild claims.
In an apparent decision not to upset the A&E ad cash cow, Deadline refused to run the Church’s ad. A letter to that effect from Stacey Farish, Chief Revenue Officer and General Manager of Deadline, explained: “Thank you for your interest in Deadline, however Deadline is going to decline to accept these ads. Deadline does not accept highly controversial content for advertising content which could be deemed as unduly provocative.” (Emphasis added).
“Thank you for your interest in Deadline, however Deadline is going to decline to accept these ads. Deadline does not accept highly controversial content for advertising content which could be deemed as unduly provocative.”—Stacey Farish, Deadline
The only content in the offered ad came directly from Leah Remini—hardly controversial or provocative regarding her own show. And yet, this spurious notion was used as cause to refuse the Church’s ad.
Remini recently taped yet another Deadline panel discussion with Mike Fleming that included her show’s co-host, Mike Rinder. This segment has not yet been aired, and so no transcript is available. But if the 2017 discussion between this threesome is any indication, Mike Fleming had another opportunity to lob softball leading questions at his guests.
They were questions designed to lead his guests into their most negative and outrageous claims, and the truth be damned. But this is what comes of a film reviewer playing journalist—a role that Fleming is unequipped to perform, according to his own peers.
Jeff Sneider, who wrote for The Wrap, called Fleming an “ass-kissing sycophant who takes dictation for his sources, and to call himself a journalist is an embarrassment to his profession.”
Fleming also received sharp responses from the family of Mike Rinder immediately following his 2017 panel discussion on Deadline. Rinder’s ex-wife, Cathy Bernardini, penned a letter to Fleming castigating him for providing a venue for Rinder’s lies. She wrote:
“I was in disbelief and shock that you are actively promoting outright false propaganda from Mike Rinder… That you flippantly steer this interview and promote this individual and support his religious and personal slander is offensive beyond words.”
Rinder’s daughter, Taryn, was even more explicit in her letter to Fleming:
“Mike Rinder is not an upstanding citizen who has any right to speak out about anyone else’s religion, life or beliefs. Bluntly, he is a creep. I have seen him emotionally and physically abuse too many people, including my own mother in front of my eyes… Mike Rinder is using you to meet his own ends. He is dishonest and calculating… I see that you have a bone to pick with my religion. Sorry, this is America. It is a free country to practice one’s religion of choice. I believe you should respect that and not use your position in the press to pretend you are objective while pushing a one-sided agenda to discriminate.”
Fleming ignored both letters and instead, hosted another panel discussion with Remini and Rinder in 2018. Upon hearing about it, Taryn posted this message to Fleming on Facebook:
“Shame on you. You’re supporting a wife beater, Mike Rinder, who’s also my father…The fact that you agree with and continue to support him—I wrote you last year and you were provided evidence of his abuse, and you never answered. My mom wrote you and you never answered, so clearly you agree with supporting wife beaters and people who don’t care about other people, like Mike Rinder.”
And still no response from Fleming, apparently pleased with himself to sit with his multiple chins betwixt two bitter ex-Scientologists spinning lies for cash.
Like Deadline’s profitable ad arrangement with A&E, it’s all about the money.