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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 he was no longer proud of it, he could request it to 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 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".
- 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.
- 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 less common practice is not even listing the English dub credits at all.
- Seiyuu 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.
- 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.
- Re-edited versions of films for television and airlines are frequently given this treatment.
- 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.
- The first film to use the alias was the 1969 film Death Of A Gunfighter, when actor Richard Widmark decided he was unhappy with the director and arranged to have him replaced. Sadly, when the film was completed, neither the new nor the old director 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.
- 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. 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 Alien 3. 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.
- 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 Moto Kops 2200 is credited to Alan Smithee.
- A special feature on the DVD for the Doctor Who story The Invasion of Time was a documentary about the story's writer called The Elusive David Agnew was credited as being directed by Alan Smitheee, the documentary itself was a Mockumentary since David Agnew was also a pseudonym used by the BBC.
- The pilot MacGyver was written by Alan Smithee.
- Also the episode "The Heist." It was freaking hilarious.
- Harlan Ellison uses the alias "Cordwainer Bird" under the same sorts of circumstances when a film director might use "Alan Smithee."
- He has also loaned the name out to writer acquaintances who need an alias for various reasons.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 had initially planned to disown the fourth game (which he was only producing at all due to Executive Meddling) and hand it over to his team, with Shuyo Murata appointed director. (It didn't last, as the rest of the trailer shows.)
- Referenced in Wild Arms 3, though in a totally different context. Alan Smithy is a legendary Drifter who leaves signposts with advice all over the landscape.
- 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 psuedonym "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 commerical 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 embarassed about having directed the episode "Nurse Stimpy" of The Ren and 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.