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Alan Smithee
"David Lynch refuses to have his name attached to certain cuts of the film, because many of the final decisions were taken completely out of his hands and he was so thoroughly bummed with how they turned out that he didn't want to be associated with them. Judging by his filmography, if Lynch had gotten his way, Dune would've been utterly indecipherable as opposed to merely confusing."

Alan Smithee was one of Hollywood's longest-working and most diverse directors from his "birth" in 1969 to his "passing" in 1999, undaunted by the highly variable quality of his work and the fact that he didn't actually exist.

In the movie industry of the past, if a director's movie became the victim of Executive Meddling and bad acting to the point where they were no longer proud of it, he could request it to have his name taken off it, and it would then be credited to "Alan Smithee".

There were, of course, rules about the use of the name — for instance, the studio would have to admit that they'd wrested the film from the director's control. Directors using the alias were also required to keep their reason for disavowing the film a secret.

Before 1999, Smithee was the only alias Directors Guild members were permitted to use. This was changed because of the parody An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn; a combination of confusion from bad press surrounding the film and the film's director Arthur Hiller wanting his name removed (which meant that a movie with the name "Alan Smithee" in the title had to be credited, under DGA rules, to Alan Smithee) caused the name to be retired. Since then, aliases are selected on a case-by-case basis.

Coincidentally, can be anagrammed into "The Alias Men". Compare this to the use of the name 'Nicolas Bourbaki' in mathematics.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Episode 3 of Kanamemo features a Shout-Out to the name when Kana and Mika go subscriber hunting. One of the potential customers they visit has the name "Aran Smythee".
  • Dan Green is well known for doing voices in children's anime, so whenever he lends his voice talent to a hentai he uses the pseudonym (Tom Wilson). This standard practice for voice actors when doing NSFW work, made by a writers' union declaration. In this case it's a pseudonym of a pseudonym, as his real name is actually James Snyder.
    • This was inverted in Queen's Blade's English dub: He, Leina, Nanael and Setra's English voice actors are the only ones who uses their real names in that dub, everyone else uses pseudonyms instead.
  • This is a common practice for union voice actors to use a pseudonym when doing non-union voice work, not just dealing with hentai or fanservice series. This is the main reason why Steve Blum used the "David Lucas" pseudonym. Another practice common in video games is not even listing the English dub credits at all.
  • Japanese voice actors are discouraged to talk about any work they used a pseudonym for, which makes the Hey, It's That Voice! moments a lot more surprising.
    • Or awesome, as hearing Norio Wakamoto voice Edwyn Black makes perfect sense.

    Comic Books 
  • The incredibly 90s X-Men one-shot Team X 2000 gave a writer credit to "A Smithee". Which is understandable, under the circumstances.
  • Referenced in the Batman miniseries Harley and Ivy; when Harley hijacks the film being made about the pair, the director's name is listed as Alice Smithee.
  • Karl Bollers, a former writer for Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog, would sometimes write under the name "Benny Lee". Some stories also had an artist (or artists) go under the name "Many Hands".
  • Executive Meddling led Steve Englehart to insist on being credited by the pseudonym "John Harkness" in protest on several comic books, most notably for the seven final issues of his run on Fantastic Four.
  • The final issue of the Threeboot Legion of Super-Heroes, which rapidly tied up all the plot threads before Final Crisis gave us the original Legion again, was apparently written by "Justin Thyme".
  • The writer of the short-lived X-Men spin-off The Brotherhood was listed as "Writer X." Most fans believe the writer was either Howard Mackie or Devin Grayson, but no one seems to know for sure.
  • The final run of Strontium Dog Spin-Off Strontium Dogs was credited to an Alan Smithee after writer Peter Hogan was fired.
  • 21st-century reissues of Alan Moore's work on Miracleman credit him as "The Original Writer" because he asked for his name to be removed. Not because he no longer likes the work but because he now believes that original Marvelman writer Mick Anglo was cheated out of his rights.
  • The "Vid Kid" strip in the British comic Buster was credited to "Sue Denim." Initially this was because the artist, Jack Edward Oliver drew it very hurriedly in-between working on his other Buster strips and disliked the simplistic art style that resulted, but he kept with it out of habit even after he was able to improve the artwork in the following years.

  • As noted in the trope description above, the practice of using "Alan Smithee" ended with An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn. Veteran director Arthur Hiller (of Love Story and many, many other films) was unhappy with the film's script and end result, and requested that his name be removed from the final product (and, sure enough, he got credited as Alan Smithee. No, really). This is what led to the Director's Guild discontinuing the practice. Hiller, on the other hand, wouldn't direct another project for more than a decade due to ''Burn Hollywood Burn'''s universal savaging and extremely low box office gross.
    • The film itself was a Lampshade Hanging on the very concept of using "Alan Smithee" as a pseudonym: the titular in-movie director who wants his name out of the film really is named Alan Smithee.
  • One of Peppy's film posters in The Artist gives a director's credit to Alan Smithee.
  • Kevin Yagher, the director of Hellraiser: Bloodline wasn't happy how the studio cut chunks from the film and chose to be credited as Alan Smithee.
  • Attempted by Tony Kaye for American History X, which was allegedly re-edited by Edward Norton so he had more screen time. Kaye, outraged, wanted to be credited as Humpty Dumpty instead of Alan Smithee, which was flatly rejected. This lead to a war of words culminating in a $200 million plus lawsuit between Kaye and New Line, and probably costing Edward Norton an Oscar.
  • Smithee's directorial debut (as it were) was the 1969 film Death Of A Gunfighter, when actor Richard Widmark decided he was unhappy with director Robert Totten and arranged to have him replaced by Don Siegel. Sadly, when the film was completed, neither Totten nor Siegel wanted to have it attributed to his name. The first suggestion for the name of the fictitious director was Al Smith, but the DGA said that there was already a director going by that name, and suggested Alan Smithee instead.
    • When it was released, The New York Times and Roger Ebert actually praised Smithee's directorial work, though Ebert admitted that Alan Smithee was "a name I'm not familiar with." The version of the review on his website features a footnote noting the inaugural use of the Smithee name.
  • David Lynch took his name off the extended cut of Dune, which was not only directed by Alan Smithee but written by Judas Booth. Of course that surname has a history with Lynch.
  • Ti West, the director of Cabin Fever 2, was ashamed of the final result and requested to use the name. The director's request was rejected, since he is not a member of the Directors Guild of America. To this day, West still refuses to take the blame.
  • Walter Hill used the name Thomas Lee on the 2000 flop Supernova after MGM constantly interfered with the production and editing process (even bringing in Francis Ford Coppola to reshoot some scenes).
  • After Takeshi Kimura fell into depression he wrote all his subsequent screenplays, Godzilla or otherwise, under the gender-neutral pen name Kaoru Mabuchi. They were noticeably less well-written than his pre-Mabuchi screenplays.
  • As a result of the infamous and tragic Hellish Copter incident on the set of the Twilight Zone movie, one second assistant director had his name removed from the credits and replaced with the pseudonym Alan Smithee.
  • Alan Moore is completely disgusted by all the movie adaptations of his work, and has requested that he simply be referred to as Alan Smithee for anything based on his work.
  • Averted by David Fincher on Alien³. He was brought in late on an already Troubled Production and faced Executive Meddling from the start, and wound up seeing the film edited without his participation, but since it was his first film, he informally disowned it instead.
  • The film Student Bodies saw Alan Smithee become a producer (in this case "replacing" Michael Ritchie) - although director Mickey Rose kept his own name on the credits.
  • Russell Mulcahy was threatened with a lawsuit if he attempted to petition the DGA to remove his credit from the Highlander II: The Quickening.
  • The movie City Heat was originally going to be directed by Blake Edwards, who wrote the original script - but he was fired (Richard Benjamin took over) and the script rewritten by Joseph C. Stinson; Edwards still has story and co-screenplay credit under the pseudonym "Sam O. Brown" (think about the initials).
  • The Bette Midler vehicle Jinxed! was a Troubled Production, with among other problems Midler and co-star Ken Wahl hating each other's guts and the Divine Miss M also intensely disliking director Don Siegel - and vice versa (Siegel suffered a heart attack during production and Sam Peckinpah, not the first name that comes to mind when thinking of comedy directors (then again, neither is Siegel), finished the film uncredited; although he recovered, this would be his last film) - all of which led to primary screenwriter Frank Gilroy billing himself as "Bert Blessing."
  • Alec Baldwin used the name Harry Kirkpatrick when a recut version of his only directorial effort, a remake of The Devil and Daniel Webster, was distributed under the name Shortcut to Happiness in 2007 (six years after the film was made, due to legal issues over the production).

  • In the Discworld novel Maskerade, the Opera House has a similar custom surrounding "Walter Plinge" (the real Walter is the janitor).
    • "Walter Plinge" is in fact another common pseudonym in London theaters, used interchangeably with George Spelvin (see below). The gag is that the Discworld theater has an actual Walter Plinge on staff.
  • In the Stephen King novel Desperation, the script excerpt from the cartoon MotoKops 2200 is credited to Alan Smithee.
  • Harlan Ellison uses the alias "Cordwainer Bird" under the same sorts of circumstances when a film director might use "Alan Smithee", and has also loaned the name out to writer acquaintances who need an alias for various reasons.
  • Discussed by Art Spiegelman in the foreword to the book commemorating The Garbage Pail Kids. He was working for Topps making them and "Wacky Packages" at the same time that Maus was being published and released. The publishers for the latter were concerned that Spiegelman would be credited by name for the former, driving away potential customers who wouldn't want to read a comic about the Holocaust done by a gross-out artist. Topps didn't credit Spiegelman and the latter kept his involvement quiet until the foreword to said commemorative book.

    Live Action TV 
  • A special feature on the DVD for the Doctor Who story "The Invasion of Time" was a documentary about the story's writer. The Elusive David Agnew was credited as being directed by Alan Smithee, but the documentary itself was a mockumentary since David Agnew was also a pseudonym used by the BBC. Agnew was also credited as writing "City of Death", not because it was a bad episode (it really wasn't) but because it would have looked inappropriate for the script editor and producer to be credited as writers.
  • The pilot MacGyver was written by Alan Smithee.
    • Also the episode "The Heist." It was freaking hilarious.
  • Sonya Roberts's script "Joy Ride" for The Outer Limits became "Second Chance" in the finished product, which gives her story and (with Lou Morheim) teleplay credit under the name "Lin Dane." Take off the capital letters and you'll guess her reaction to the rewrites (which may have been mandated by Executive Meddling).
  • The Mission: Impossible episode "Live Bait" credits Michael Adams with the story and (with James D. Buchanan and Ronald Austin) teleplay; this was a pen-name for Meyer Dolinsky (who like Miss Roberts also suffered from meddling on The Outer Limits with "ZZZZZ", although he kept his name on the episode). "Michael Adams" also has writing credits on series like Dr. Kildare, Daktari and Hawaii Five-O (where he had several credits under his own name - but not "Flash of Color, Flash of Death", which was the last episode he did for the show).
  • Roy Huggins used several pseudonyms when providing storylines and scripts for the shows he worked on in the '60s and '70s (and even on Hunter in the 1980s), with "John Thomas James" the most frequent.

  • Over the years, MAD has used several pseudonymous bylines for varying reasons. Names known to be psuedonyms for others include John Prete (or J. Prete), Jack Syracuse, and Josh Gordon.

  • Alan also "does" music videos. Among his credits are "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston, "Lose My Breath" by Destiny's Child, "Hunting for Witches" by Bloc Party, "Juicebox" by The Strokes and "Building a Mystery" by Sarah MacLachlan.
  • On the soundtrack album for 2002's Trapped, the conductor of John Ottman's score is called "L. Ton Jon" (a pseudonym for Damon Intrabartolo).

    Puppet Shows 
  • While Terrahawks is ill-thought of enough that many wouldn't blame the crew for playing this trope straight here, this time it was done stylistically; while all but four of the series' 39 episodes were written or co-written by Gerry Anderson regular Tony Barwick, the scripts were usually credited to a variety of pseudonyms ending with "-stein," often feline-connected due to a major character being called Dr. Tiger Ninestein (example: "The Ugliest Monster Of All" was written by P.U. Mastein). The show lampshaded this on several occasions, most blatantly with "Child's Play" being credited to Sue Donymstein. Only three episodes eschewed fake names - "The Midas Touch," by Trevor Lansdowne and Barwick (credited as Barwick for once), and the two-part opener "Expect The Unexpected" by Anderson himself; the only other non-Barwick episodes in the series are "From Here to Infinity" and "The Sporilla," written by Katz Stein and Leo Pardstein respectively (both pseudonyms for Donald James).

  • Alan Smithee has a theatrical counterpart. His name is George Spelvin. George Spelvin (or, for females, Georgina or Georgette Spelvin) is also used when the same actor is playing two roles but that fact should not be made obvious to the audience beforehand by the cast list. He first appeared in the 1906 stage version of Brewster's Millions.
    • The (probably hallucinating) main character of the play "The Actor's Nightmare" is referred to as George Spelvin.

    Video Games 
  • Referenced in the "CHAIR RACE" teaser trailer for Metal Gear Solid 4 - when we see the back of the Director's chair, Alan Smithee's name is written on it, which eventually drops off to reveal the name of Shuyo Murata. This references how Hideo Kojima originally planned to work only as a producer MGS4 (as he planned on leaving the series after Metal Gear Solid 3) and hand it over to his junior team, with Shuyo Murata appointed director. It didn't last, as the rest of the trailer shows.
  • Referenced in Wild AR Ms 3, though in a totally different context. Alan Smithy is a legendary Drifter who leaves signposts with advice all over the landscape.
  • In Street Fighter X Tekken, Rolento's voice actor is credited as Alan Smithee. It's actually Dameon Clarke.
  • Referenced in The Wonderful 101, with one of the supporting characters being a kid by the name of Luka Alan Smithee.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons: Mr. Burns' recruitment film for the power plant, which had script problems from Day One (i.e., nobody read the script), and which ends with Mr. Burns physically accosting Homer for getting his lines wrong, is credited to Alan Smithee.
    • David Silverman used the pseudonym "Pound Foolish" while directing the clip episodes. In addition, Matt Groening had his credits removed from the episode "A Star is Burns" due to viewing the episode as a half-hour commercial for The Critic, leading to a well-publicized spat with producer James L. Brooks (who had fought to bring The Critic to Fox).
  • One episode of Tiny Toon Adventures had a couple of cartoons with inferior animation directed by "Allen Smithee." The episode's Credits Gag was: "Number of Retakes: Don't Ask."
  • The Pebble and the Penguin was the one movie that Don Bluth didn't take credit for.
  • John Kricfalusi was so embarrassed about having directed the episode "Nurse Stimpy" of The Ren & Stimpy Show (all he could see when he watched the final product were drawing mistakes and timing errors), he credited himself as "Raymond Spum" on the title card.

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