We sure hate to point out other people's mistakes, but Deadline reporter Mike Fleming's continued claiming of EXCLUSIVE on Fox Searchlight's acquisition of "The Surrogate" at Sundance on Monday night has got our hackles up. That's because our Variety masters clearly broke the story at 7:37 p.m., well before anyone else:
Coming in a close second was Steven Zeitchik at The Los Angeles Times, who posted at 7:47 p.m. (without crediting Variety, of course -- GRRRR, Steve). The bronze medal belongs to The Hollywood Reporter at 8:13 p.m.
And just when you thought the dust had settled on what's guaranteed to be the biggest acquisition of the 2012 fest (and arguably its consensus best film), Deadline came in with the EXCLUSIVE, which blogdogger first observed at 8:40 p.m., though it carries a THR-matching 8:13 p.m. timestamp (it's OK, we're used to seeing Deadline's infamous time-travel trick by now.)
Nothing about the post was new -- not the buyer, not the price, nothing -- and yet he claimed EXCLUSIVE because ... why? We heard the Sundance crew tried to contact Fleming and Finke to remove the offending tag, but the only response they got was from Finke herself, whose HOW DARE YOU CONTACT ME response defended the tag only by saying internal timestamps proved that Fleming "had been working on the story for a while." Not sure how that makes it EXCLUSIVE, but ... OK.
So despite being asked (politely) to remove a misleading, inaccurate and -- as a result, clearly cynical -- claim of exclusivity, Nikki and Mike continue to display it on their post. Which probably says a lot about how they feel about getting beat on the biggest scoop out of Park City this year.