Quotes: Executive Meddling

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'Z' is for zoo
That's where I belong
'Cause my life is like a prison
With the music industry looking on
Johnny Massacre, "Ultrasound"

One likes to believe in the freedom of music
But glittering prizes and endless compromises
Shatter the illusion of integrity
— "The Spirit of Radio," Rush

All we ever want is indecision
All we really like is what we know
Gotta balance style with adherence
Making sure we make a good appearance
Even if you simply have to fudge it
Make sure that it stays within our budget
— The Stressed Reprise of "Stitching it Together (Art of the Dress)," My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic

I am the entertainer
And I've come to do my show
You heard my latest record
It's been on the radio
It took me years to write it
They were the best years of my life
It was a beautiful song, but it ran too long
If you're gonna have a hit, you gotta make it fit
So they cut it down to 3:05
Billy Joel, "The Entertainer"

They said release "Remote Control"
But we didn't want it on the label
They said, "Fly to Amsterdam"
The people laughed but the press went mad
The Clash, "Complete Control" note 

"And my managers must learn that their place is in an office. Not the arts."

It's called "Show Business," not "Show Art.
Maggie O'Connell, Northern Exposure

Nothing can ruin a good idea like a roomful of men.
Denise, Trust Me

Guano: But... but you said you'd never tamper with my creative vision.
Ozu: (Calmly) I didn't tamper... (angrily) I lit it on fire — and danced on the ashes!

I made him a flushed, dishevelled, bedevilled scallawag, with his helmet at the back of his head, and the living fear of death in his eye, and the blood oozing out of a cut over his ankle-bone. He wasn't pretty, but he was all soldier and very much man. [...]

I did him just as well as I knew how, making allowance for the slickness of oils. Then the art-manager of that abandoned paper said that his subscribers wouldn’t like it. It was brutal and coarse and violent - man being naturally gentle when he’s fighting for his life.
They wanted something more restful, with a little more colour. I could have said a good deal, but you might as well talk to a sheep as an art-manager.
I took my "Last Shot" back. Behold the result! I put him into a lovely red coat without a speck on it. That is Art. I polished his boots - observe the highlight on the toe. That is Art. I cleaned his rifle - rifles are always clean on service - because that is Art.
Dick, The Light that Failed by Rudyard Kipling.

    Quotes from creators 
I'm sick to death of being fucked about by men in suits sitting on their fat arses in the City!
John Lennon, expressing his frustration over The Beatles not legally owning their own songs (long story...)

There is no idea so good it can't be ruined by a few well-placed idiots.

You know, what pisses me off is that all the things I'm good at are things that everyone assumes they could do if they tried. Playing the bassoon or fluffing a walrus people respect, 'cause there's a specialist skill that goes into those. But writing? 'Pah! I learnt that in school! Fucking aced it! They made me start doing it all in joined-up letters just to give everyone else a chance! And that, Mr. Croshaw, is why I felt my background made me qualified to rewrite all the story copy you did for us to be more like a recent popular film.' Well, you know what I say to that, Mr. Producer?!
$50 an hour, please. Blimey, I wonder how people with integrity get through life.

I would like to relay an editorial comment that I received near the end of my time writing the Dark Knight New 52 series. In one scene, I had written that Batman is sitting on a rooftop during an intense conversation, close to a person who has been injured. The editorial comment: 'We're not sure you are "getting" the character because it's common knowledge that Batman never sits down.'
Paul Jenkins

If I was one of the core Spider-Man writers, I'd probably be pissed as hell if I was being flooded with long-winded memos from my editor in chief, my fellow writers, some overeager assistant editor kid, a continuity cop, and "outside" writers, all detailing what I should be writing in my book... If the editorial staff was not going to let the writers do the writing, or wanted to write the books themselves, with little-to-no-input from the writers, then there was no reason for the writers to be there, other than to just do exactly what they were told and collect a paycheck. And that's a lousy situation for any writer who wants to be more than just a hack.
Editor/Writer Glenn Greenberg on The Clone Saga

With making a film, it's like trying to create a tune in the shower, while you have a hundred people singing around you.

After I turned in my next-to-last draft [for The Core], the executives looked at me, very seriously, hand on knee, low subdued tones: 'John, we really like this last draft, but one thing bugs us. The whole idea of the north and south pole switching places — it's WAY over the top and unbelievable. It just reeks of bullshit.'

Deep breath. Okay, I shrug. What did you have in mind?


... This, by the way, is why screenwriting pays so well. They don't pay me to write. I'd write for free. They pay me NOT to punch people in the neck.

What you have to remember is that in the movies there are two types of people 1) the directors, artists, actors and so on who have to do things and are often quite human and 2) the other lifeforms. Unfortunately you have to deal with the other lifeforms first. It is impossible to exaggerate their baleful stupidity.
Terry Pratchett, after a Mort movie deal falls apart when execs ask him to "lose the Death angle"

I spent a year of very determined effort on something I was very excited about, working very closely with Steven Spielberg and coming up with a result that I and he felt was terrific. He wanted to direct it as his next movie, and then suddenly the whole thing goes down in flames because George Lucas doesn’t like the script...I said, 'You have a fantastic script. I think you’re insane, George.' You can say things like that to George, and he doesn’t even blink. He’s one of the most stubborn men I know.
Frank Darabont on the making of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Shows work best when there is a single vision, and I work best when I can look at a show and I say, 'I get it.' And then when 'I get it', it's really, completely clear to me and I can tell you what any character would do in any given moment—even the aberrations in character... Obviously, a different show was sold to different markets, which is why'd get different notes form the Germans and the French, and they'd be totally different shows from what (the executive producer) and I thought we were doing. And so you'd try to make adjustments. And you really can't be everything to everybody. There needs to be one clear vision of what it is, to make it work.
David Abramowitz on the (horrific) shooting of Highlander: The Raven

Gene Roddenberry: (throws back script) We’re not doing it.
Ira Behr: Why?
Gene: Captain Picard is John Wayne. And John Wayne is not afraid of growing old or becoming an admiral. He isn’t afraid of anything.
Ira: Hold on a second, Gene: I happen to be quite a fan of John Wayne, and I can show you tons of his best movies where he’s afraid, where he has doubts, where he’s conflicted—
Gene: No, no. That’s not the John Wayne I’m talking about. I’m talking about John Wayne. That’s who Picard is. There is no problem! If they made him an admiral, he’d just go, “Fine! I’m an admiral! And that’s just the way it is and I’m not gonna worry about it. And I’ll just do it! Everything’s good!” This story will never get done.
Ira: Okay…
Gene: But I really like this pleasure planet idea! Here’s what I wanna see… We’re going to get him laid. And this is what I want. We’re going to get him laid and we’re going to really show this pleasure planet.
—Ira Behr on leaving Star Trek: The Next Generation, Resistance is Futile: Assimilating Star Trek

I play a Star Trek engineer. The line is written, 'That oughta do it.' This was just one line in the script, that oughta do it. Every single solitary time in rehearsal, I said, 'Well, that oughta do it.'
They start to light the set, the script supervisor comes up to me: 'Are you changing the line?' I said, 'Whaddya mean?' She goes, 'Are you changing the line?' 'Wha—? Aren't I saying the line right?' She says, 'The line is 'That oughta do it'; you're saying 'WELL that oughta do it.' Are you changing the line? If you are, I have to call up to the production office and get it approved.' And I literally said, '..You're kidding me, right?' (I thought I was being punk'd by Ira.) And I was like, 'shyeah, right. You serious?' She was like, 'I'm totally serious.' I said, 'ARE YOU SERIOUS?!'
...And it took me out of that scene. All I'm thinking is, "Don't say 'well'!" Don't change it, it's like Shakespeare!'
Bill Mumy on his guest role in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

When casting ended on Voyager, all the actors were invited by executive producer Rick Berman to attend a congratulatory luncheon. It was during this lunch that Berman informed us that he expected all actors portraying human roles to follow his decree. He told us that we were to underplay our human characters. He wanted our line delivery to be as military — and subsequently devoid of emotion — as possible, since this, in his opinion, was the only way to make the aliens look real... It is a little-known fact that during the first season, Mulgrew's Janeway had a teary eye on more than one occasion, only to be vetoed by the producers and covered up with a re-shoot. If you can allow Captain Picard to bawl his eyes out for 10 minutes over the death of his relatives in the opening of the film Generations, then how on earth can you not allow Captain Janeway the chance to show some genuine emotion?
Garret Wang on his Star Trek: Voyager experience

Having lived in Los Angeles for nearly three months, I can assure you that panel two’s depiction of a Hollywood producer is 100% accurate.

The likelihood that people will panic, go insane, and make bizarre, irrational decisions is directly proportional to the amount of money involved. If you shoot something in your backyard using a borrowed camera and your buddies, congratulations, you have total creative freedom. But if you want a big, loud movie with whatever actors the general population wants to have sex with at the time (currently Ryan Gosling, Jennifer Lawrence, and Flo from those Progressive Auto Insurance commercials), you're going to need someone else's money. And that someone else? He's got some notes ...

Why is he so important? Since when is bein' a billionaire that owns the company making the movie mean you got some kinda say in it?
Red Letter Media on Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Come on, this is a George Lucas supervised movie, of course the dialog is shitty. It is almost so bad its funny to see the horribly stilted expository dialog being forced out of the crappy actors' mouths. And despite already knowing this movie was directed by Anthony Hemingway and not George Lucas, I think my subconscious mind knew better and for the longest time, my draft had the director listed as Lucas. This movie looks and sounds so much like a Lucas film that I could seriously not tell the difference. Hemingway must have had Lucas on his back the whole production.

Crow: Okay, The Final Sacrifice: The Series
Mike: The name goes.
Crow: What?
Mike: Never liked the name. The name goes. It's banal.
Crow: But if you’re hoping to connect the series with the movie, Mike—
Mike: I need something like, oh, Night Mistress.
Crow: Night Mistress.
Mike: Yeah, or Cloochie and the Lieutenant, something that’s gonna seduce people, really connect with 'em. We’ll work on that.
Mystery Science Theater 3000, engaging in some frightfully-accurate roleplay during the credits of The Final Sacrifice

After shopping the franchise rights around, Davis-Panzer Productions finally sold it off to Lionsgate, the same studio that put out the Saw series. Because Saw was such a big success, Lionsgate wanted to make Highlander grittier and darker...Peter Briggs, David Abramowitz, and Russell Mulcahy all wanted to try and resurrect the suffering Highlander franchise. Even Joel Soisson, who had helped kill it with Endgame, later sued to get his name taken out of the credits of this abomination. Adrian Paul likewise wanted to go back to the roots of the series with Duncan rather than the post-apocalyptic mess of pseudoscience and magical babble that we got. People tried to make this movie something good. At every turn, they were thwarted by meddling producers who thought they knew what was best despite the fact that their interference had just about killed the franchise already and a studio that wanted to turn Highlander into a slasher flick.
The Screamsheet on Highlander: The Source

Of course, Fox's infinite wisdom knew that Deadpool could be 'improved'... His wisecracking mouth is fused shut and he's remote controlled by Stryker because moviegoers can't get enough of characters with no personality or agency.

I remember the show well because [David] Janssen's Harry Orwell was so temperamentally different from the other TV detectives on the networks at that time. Unlike the spit-and-polish, no-nonsense defenders of the California Penal Code over on Adam-12, or the glamorous, almost-Bondian cops and detectives of Hawaii Five-O or Mannix, or even the portly-but-pleased-with-himself Cannon, Harry O was a mess, an existential character in constant physical pain and frequent psychological distress. He didn't have a lot of money, he didn't seem to have very many prospects, and that bullet in his back wasn't ever going to go away...Had Harry O stayed in Dago and kept Harry downtrodden, and existential, and wounded, a genuine classic would have been born...even if it only lasted one season.

Instead, they took the anti-Mannix and made him more...Mannix-y. With 'For the Love of Money', a decidedly more chipper-sounding Harry announces, after the re-tooled opening credit sequence that he's on assignment in Los Angeles (the once doleful theme has been jazzed up to tell us it's 'exciting' now). He rents a swank beachside apartment in Santa Monica where he's immediately befriended by three bikini-clad girls, headed up by the luscious, stacked brunette Kathrine Baumann. Sharon Farrell costars in this well-made but familiar tale, and she's bikini-clad, as well; it almost makes you weep to see how obvious all this pandering is to the perceived likes of the male-dominated audience. Harry also gets a new authority figure to clash with: Anthony Zerbe's Lt. K. C. Trench, who seems remarkably more amenable to Harry hanging around his office, demanding services that no private eye in the world would get from cops who hate private detectives...so it's time for Harry to gradually ditch the bus (his car had a miraculous recovery), and to gradually ease off on the narration (who cares what Harry thinks anymore if Harry isn't 'Harry' anymore?), and to gradually start carrying a gun and gradually slugging it out with the perps, with nary a mention of the bullet in his back (in the old episodes, a simple shove from a suspect was enough to put out Harry's lights).
Paul Mavis on Harry O (1973)

The introduction of Adric as a permanent companion also not only develops the theme of change, but reveals behind-the-scenes conflicts in the programme: Tom Baker, who famously argued that he didn't need a companion, is now saddled with three of them. Lalla Ward also reportedly did not get on very well with Matthew Waterhouse, viewing him not only as her replacement, but as an indication of the direction that Nathan-Turner was taking the programme, aiming it less at a family audience and more, as she put it in a DWM interview (Issue 340), at teenage computer nerds. Furthermore, Nathan-Turner deliberately asked that Adric be given a more or less permanent costume, saying that this was for merchandising considerations (leading one to speculate on the potential commissioning of Adric action figures), but this also continues the trend of keeping control over the leading characters' appearances (the fact that Waterhouse looks much better in his vampire garb than in the green-and-yellow pyjamas also suggests that this was done more for control than for aesthetic reasons). We thus see a growing shift in power away from Tom Baker and towards John Nathan-Turner.
Alan Stevens and Fiona Moore on Doctor Who, "State of Decay"

As much as “Future Guy” appears to be a spectre of the future imposing himself on to the present, he is also an embodiment of Star Trek‘s past. He’s a representation of the hyper-advanced future that Enterprise seeks to leave behind, trying to imprint itself on to the show. As such, it makes sense that “Future Guy” was added to Enterprise at the behest of the network. “Future Guy” is very much an outside force trying to distort the narrative, trying to edit the show from the inside.

What exactly “Future Guy” is trying to do is a mystery — it’s always the way with network notes.
Darren Mooney on Star Trek: Enterprise, "Broken Bow"

This isn’t a show about the strange abutting of mundane and fantastic spaces anymore. It’s just a show about solving the case of the week.. We’ve gone to a 'hook new viewers' approach that means having the show be a familiar and unthreatening part of the televisual landscape. There’s a sense that the show is being punished for its success; having done reasonably well as an odd BBC Three show, it now gets 'promoted' to being a blander BBC Two show.

Notice how Eidos never actually made video games: they only bought out a lot of smaller companies that did. ...a bunch of executives who didn't know anything about video games (except that they made money) now had the final say in all matters concerning the development of Soul Reaver. Sometime probably during 1998 or 1999 [Amy] Hennig and her team were told to wrap it up — stop where they were, stick in a cliffhanger ending, and start figuring out a sequel. Soul Reaver is an unfinished game. It has neither a climax nor a conclusion. It just stops.
Pat R. on Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver

"Now, in fairness, this storyline was an editorial mandate. In fact, most of these turns to evil were editorial mandates, further proving that editors aren't writers, so they should stop pretending that they are."

Ed was all about showing off the ENTIRE Realms, so DMs would early on really feel what it was like to have steamy jungles AND howling glaciers, pirates in the tropics and grim northern warriors, etc etc ad infinitum.
Ed would have given us a Mirt doing nasty mercantile swindling in the streets and back alleys novel, a Dabron Sashenstar exploring hitherto unchartered wilderness novel, a novel from the point of view of elder dragons trying to fight off human incursions into their domains novel, a dwarves fighting internally to either promote or resist change that's being forced upon them by humans, a "what life is like down in Undermountain" novel, a "traitor amongst The Simbul's apprentices" novel, a "growing up as an enslaved, beautiful, ambitious female in Thay" novel, and so on and on.
Yes, ALL of those were outlined in Ed's plans. Ed never intended the Realms to be a place of signature characters and concentrating on the Knights or anyone else. He wanted it more like Terry Pratchett's Discworld, where recurring characters can show up in any book, but each book tells a story all its own.
Sigh. So much lost . . .
The Hooded One, Lady Herald of Realmslore.

"A gaggle of new producers micromanaged every aspect of the show, certain they knew what worked on the network better than the original cast and creative team."
What Were They Thinking? The 100 Dumbest Events in Television History, on how FX's Breakfast Time was meddled with when it moved to FOX and became FOX After Breakfast

"It's like a yearly reminder that Hasbro controls this show and will always hold back its true potential in favor of blatant corporate meddling that messes with the show on fundamental levels without caring, leaving the staff to do the best of the situation and smile about it."
Anonymous on My Little Pony: Equestria Girls

Pip: You deal with those types more than me; how is someone so dense granted decision making privileges at all?
Art: I think they give you an IQ test. If they see you cheating to pass it: You're management material.