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Quotes: Executive Meddling

Quotes from works

So Pinky and the Brain share a new domain.
It's what the network wants; why bother to complain?
— The theme song to Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain

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."

"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."

"'Creative Reasons' has been an Executive Bullshit excuse for DECADES. It IS financial. AJ is a dreamboat. And yes, I am hurt, too.
Paget Brewster in a tweet after finding out that her and AJ Cook's parts were being eliminated

"I want to thank the studio for sticking to their convictions... and firing me for sticking to mine."

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?

"Welllll, how about ... A GIANT LASER THAT SHOOTS INTO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH!"

... 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.

Movie executives do not lead happy lives. If you are an executive, this is your day: a scruffy man in a Hawaiian shirt walks into your office and says, "I need you to be personally responsible for giving me one hundred million dollars so I can go to Ireland and have people who pretend for a living act like they're fighting imaginary dragons."

"Will I get to see the dragons first?" you ask hopefully.

"Oh, no the dragons won't exist until after we're done shooting. The professional pretending people will be yelling at sticks. Occasionally, they will flee from a mop."

And your job, as the exec, is to
write him the check. Any sane man would break.

"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"

"What does NBC stand for? Never Believe your Contract."
Jay Leno, said during both Tonight Show scandals.

"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

"It went wrong almost immediately when Genevieve Bujold left the show. I really wanted to work with her. ...You see, they panicked because Genevieve is an actress that doesn't do the obvious thing. So it came to a head when there was a scene where she had to give the word to destroy something, and she didn't really want to do it but she had to, so the way Genevieve did it was that she was standing on the bridge looking at the view screen and she did something like [sigh, pained whisper] 'Fire', and they're used to the Captains going 'FIRE!' A sensitive captain? No, can't have that."
Robert Beltran on the Star Trek: Voyager premiere episode

"TNG was just a happy place to be. It was the kind of place where there were no bad ideas in the room. Michael [Piller] created an atmosphere where you really felt free to voice your opinions. You could argue with the boss. I argued with Mike a lot, right to the point I thought I should be fired, but he never even came close to that. That’s a tribute to him...What I found on Voyager was suddenly it wasn’t about the work anymore. It wasn’t about making the best show that we possibly could; it was about all these other extraneous issues. It was about the politics of the show, and the strange sort of competition of egos within the writing staff and the producing staff and the management of the show. ‘Competition’ is probably a misleading term. The politics of the show were such that the egos of the people in charge of the series were threatened by the people who worked for them. To be blunt, Bryan Fuller and Mike Taylor were treated very shabbily, and it pissed me off. They took a lot of crap, and the only reason it was done was to keep the guys on the top of the pyramid feeling good about themselves. It also had the effect of keeping the writing staff from working in concert as a group."
Ronald D. Moore on Star Trek: Voyager

"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... During the entire first year filming Voyager, actors were required to re-shoot certain scenes because of excessive emotion. I personally had to re-shoot only a couple of scenes, since I learned my lesson early that crossing the writer/producers was an unwise decision. Kate Mulgrew held the record for the most re-shoots, numbering in the double digits. 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

"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

Quotes on works

"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

"All I really recalled about it was it being a pretty serious disappointment. I felt then, as I sort of do now, that the movie tried just a little too hard to be kewl with a k...Maybe if [Rachael] Talalay had been given free rein to pursue that counterculture angle and John Waters feel, this movie wouldn’t be as muddled as it is. But, as seems to be the case with every 90s movie we watch, studio meddling made it kind of a mess."
Matt Wilson and Chris Sims on Tank Girl

"Is there anything left to say about how awful movie Deadpool is? ...He was off to a good start, with Ryan Reynolds (who will take every a role in every comic book movie so long as he's not directed to emote beyond wooden sarcasm) slicing bullets in half with katanas...Of course, Fox's infinite wisdom knew that Deadpool could be 'improved'... Somehow nobody involved with the movie realized that having giant katanas sprout out of his arms like Baraka is both impractical & ridiculous looking. 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."

"With covers proudly boasting 'Kirby is here!', the series spoke volumes about the clout and acclaim (Jack) Kirby had within the industry. But under the hood, the comics also revealed how strange a place DC was at the time. For all their evinced pride at having hired Kirby, they also were having every single drawing of Superman he did for his work on Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen redrawn by artists like Al Plastino, a late forties Superman artist who wasn’t even doing other work for DC, much to Kirby’s chagrin. And so when the Fourth World books did not generate the sales DC had hoped from their new star artist, they quickly (and again to his chagrin) moved him to other titles."
Phil Sandifer, The Last War in Albion

"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"

"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."

"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 ..."

"Fuck you, EA! You killed Ultima! FUCK YOU!"

"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

Gene Roddenberry: The Enterprise flies to the edge of the universe, blast through, and finds God.
Executive: NOT BIG ENOUGH!!
SFDebris on the apocryphal first draft of Star Trek: The Motion Picture

"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.

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