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stage name... for a producer?

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mike callastage name... for a producer?
by on Dec 19, 2012 at 3:30:27 pm

Hey all,
I know stage names for musicians and actors is normal.

However a Google search on tv producers using stage names comes up somewhat empty

Does any body know if its a usual practice.

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walter biscardiRe: stage name... for a producer?
by on Dec 19, 2012 at 3:51:05 pm

Have never heard of a stage name for a Producer.

The only reason for that would be if you were also an Actor and had to have a registered SAG name. There can only be one person with a specific name in SAG, so that's the big reason behind "stage names."

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Mark SuszkoRe: stage name... for a producer?
by on Dec 19, 2012 at 7:14:56 pm

There's the director, "McG", but that's all I came up with offhand.

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Todd TerryRe: stage name... for a producer?
by on Dec 19, 2012 at 10:28:51 pm

Never heard of a stage name for a Producer. A director, yes... but usually after-the-fact when the movie is bad. That's why "Alan Smithee" is the most prolific director ever... at least according to credits.

I for one fell into that SAG name trap a zillion years ago when I was a wannabe actor. There was already another SAG actor with my name, so I had to pick another one. And now that I don't do that any more, I don't tell anyone what it was :)


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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Tim WilsonRe: stage name... for a producer?
by on Dec 20, 2012 at 3:03:53 am

Many many producers have worked under pseudonyms. I'm not an expert in anything important, but I'm an expert in quite a few strange little byways -- and this is one of them.

(Generally speaking, the rule goes: the more important it is, the less I know about it.)

My interest started with my great-uncle Mike was a producer and writer who worked under more names than I can remember. One thing he did that got some notoriety was The Price of Tomatoes on The Dick Powell Theater in 1962, featuring Peter Falk in his first leading role, and netting him his first Emmy. His co-star, an 18-yr old Inger Stevens was also nominated, and Falk spent his speech lambasting the Academy for not naming her the winner.

Uncle Mike's name is nowhere on the thing. In fact, the only thing I can remember with his actual name on it is a film he wrote and produced starring Jayne Mansfield. (Her last film, as well as Walter Winchell's.) Not a very good movie, actually a pretty bad one, but his wife, aka Aunt Dorothy was in it as well and has a crackerjack speech in one scene.

So I asked him about it. He said unless your name was Hitchcock, nobody wanted to hear about a guy who wanted to direct, produce, and write in movies AND TV. If word of that got around, and you wouldn't get hired for any of those jobs, in either medium.

Anyway, pseudonyms are incredibly common among many non-actors. That's not even counting people like Woody Allen, who has never done anything under his own name, Allan Konigsberg. In that sense, Woody Allen is less a pseudonym than a stage name, in that the name represents a specific person whose life and work we know, rather than somebody who's trying to obscure his identity. Ditto Bob Dylan, McG, John Wayne and many more.

But there are more reasons than you can imagine for people whose work you are very familiar with to want to intentionally obscure their identity....some of which are obvious, and some of which are anything BUT obvious...none of which I'll go into unless you really, really want to know...

...emphasizing the fact that nobody should ever feel any obligation to work under their own name, INCLUDING producers. Like my Uncle Mike.

Stephen Soderbergh uses the name Peter Andrews as a cinematographer and Mary Ann Bernard as a writer.

The Coen Brothers edit their own films under the name Roderick Jaynes...who was nominated for an Oscar for "his" work on Fargo.

Bob Dylan produced the film Masked & Anonymous under the name Sergei Petrov. (It was co-written and directed by Larry Charles, of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm fame, and is suitably psychotic.) Dylan also produced his album Modern Times under the name Jack Frost.

Stan Laurel directed several Laurel and Hardy pictures under his real name, A.S. Jefferson.

Fatty Arbuckle used the name William Goodrich after he, uhm.....well...

DW Griffith wrote under many, many names, my favorite being Irene Sinclair. Several of the rest sound so blatantly fabricated -- M. Gaston de Tolignac -- that Ernie Kovacs could have invented them.

A number of Italian directors worked under English names. For example, Sergio Leone was Bob Robertson for the original release of Fistful of Dollars.

Directors have often -- maybe often? Maybe nearly always? -- used pseudonyms when working in hardcore porn, notably Abel Ferrara under the name Jimmie Laine (Tales of A Wet P***y, Driller Killer).

The blacklist years led to pseudonyms becoming quite common indeed. Dalton Trumbo won two Oscars for writing under false names, Ian McLellan Hunter and Robert Rich -- never under his own name. However, the Academy re-awarded his Oscar for The Brave One in his name in 1975, and Roman Holiday posthumously.

While less well-known today, director Joseph Losey won a Palme D'Or and Grand Prize of the Jury at Cannes in 1970 and 67 respectively, and best director awards in France and Italy, and a couple of BAFTA nominations, but directed under 3 additional names besides his won.

Alan Smithee was the DGA's official designation for a disowned film (although the DGA has to sign off that it was in fact taken from the director, and not just something the director is embarrassed by or whatever), although after Burn Hollywood Burn, the secret was blown. You should really check out the list of who has used this name, Don Seigel and Jerry Frankenheimer among them. The first post-Smithee credit of this sort was Thomas Lee, used by Walter Hill on Supernova (2000).

Pseudonyms are even more common among novelists. Some don't want to be pigeonholed, others want to get around common industry restrictions regarding frequency of publication. Steven King wrote under the name Richard Bachman for this reason, and to see if he could replicate success under a different name -- he wanted to be known as a writer, and not just a "brand." Among the stories he wrote under the name Bachman: The Running Man, adapted into a movie twice.

(The original author picture for the Bachman books was King's literary agent's insurance guy. That's actually pretty badass.)

Donald Westlake is one of the most decorated and best-selling mystery novelist/short story writer/screenwriters of all time. In fact, he's one of only two authors in the genre to win awards in all three of those categories. Number of pseudonyms: SIXTEEN. Scroll down the page to see why - he was insanely prolific, and no publishers would allow one of their clients to publish that much under one name.

This was in fact why Prince became an unpronounceable name, later, The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, and wrote the word "Slave" on his face. He wanted to make more than one record per year and his label said no. When he threatened to release records himself, the record company reminded him they owned the name Prince -- even though that's his actual first name -- as well as the domain

Salvatore Lombino published 55 (I think) novels in the 87th Precinct series under the name Ed McBain, a number of which were adapted for the screen. Fans of the The Wire should consider these MORE than essential.

He later legally changed his name to Evan Hunter, a pseudonym he used when he wrote Blackboard Jungle based on his experience teaching in the Bronx while waiting for his writing career to kick in), and adapting The Birds and Marnie for Hitchcock.

(He was also a literary agent for a while, with Arthur C. Clarke and PG Wodehouse his most illustrious clients.)

Talk about pseudonymous recursion: in one instance, "Evan Hunter" wrote an adaptation of an "Ed McBain" story! The movie Fuzz (1982).

He's one of the most fascinating cases of pseudonymous writing, because he spans so many genres, used so many names, and wound up in movies and TV, sort of bringing this back around to being on topic.

Mike. Michael. Mikey. Dude. DUUUUUUUUUDE. I'm telling you. Use any name you want. Producers, directors, writers, editors -- these and many more have led the way for you.

Tim Wilson
Vice President, Editor-in-Chief
Creative COW

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Mark SuszkoRe: stage name... for a producer?
by on Dec 20, 2012 at 4:52:59 am


And you tell it well.

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mike callaRe: stage name... for a producer?
by on Dec 20, 2012 at 9:54:26 am

Thanks everyone,
And special thanks to Tim!

I applaud you for going above and beyond the call of duty, not just for the above (most awesome) post but for every thread you contribute to.

The fact is, you contribute with passion, honesty and most importanly you always have a air of encouragement that surrounds your words!

Thank you!

And yes I've decided to use a stage name for my producer credit. who knows, maybe in the distant future when another Cow patron asks the same question you can add me to your list.

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Todd TerryRe: stage name... for a producer?
by on Dec 20, 2012 at 6:12:57 pm

[mike calla] "And yes I've decided to use a stage name for my producer credit."

If I ever need another one, I've always said I was going to use "Holden McGroin" as my stage name.

(...and yes, great stuff from Tim as always)


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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Tim WilsonRe: stage name... for a producer?
by on Dec 20, 2012 at 6:54:47 pm

Thanks for the kind words. Always glad to disgorge my psychoses. LOL

Tim Wilson
Vice President, Editor-in-Chief
Creative COW

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Joseph W. BourkeRe: stage name... for a producer?
by on Dec 22, 2012 at 5:27:54 pm

Of course musicians and producers in the music industry are famous for their pseudonyms -

S. Flavius Mercurius - Jimmy Page
Apollo C. Vermouth - Paul McCartney

These were generally used as a way around contractual obligations, so that they could perform on or produce albums for different labels.

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media

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Tim WilsonRe: stage name... for a producer?
by on Dec 22, 2012 at 6:41:30 pm

I mentioned Dylan's Jack Frost, but yeah, a ton of musician's pseudonyms, especially among The Beatles. Somebody could write a dissertation on them. Some of it was because they were whimsical lads (does Hari Georgison count as a pseudonym? he played on a TON of records under this name), some of it was to not overwhelm the credits -- oooh! A Beatle played on it! -- and let their friends stay in the spotlight.

A very few examples:

McCartney used Billy Martin to book studio time at Apple for his first solo album, and I don't think he had his name on The Fireman at all, one of the best albums he ever did. He credited Percy Thrillington on RAM -- indeed, one of the most common uses of Beatle pseudonyms was on their own records.

John was Mel Torment, Kaptain Kundalini, Dr. Dream, Dr. Winston O'Boogie, Dr. Winston O'Ghurkin, Reverend Thumbs O'Ghurkin, Dwarf MacDougal and a number of others on Walls & Bridges and Mind Games ALONE.

Ringo Starr was of course born Richard Starkey, but used names including Richie Snare and Roy Dyke.

The latter of those was for a George Harrison album Wonderwall Music, where Eric Clapton was Eddie Clayton.

Writing with Eric on Cream's great (greatest in my mind) song Badge was the first time George used the name L'Angelo Misterioso, which he used quite a bit. Another of his most popular was Jai Raj Harisein.

And then a pile of one-offs for him:

Arthur Wax
Bette Y El Mysterioso
Carl Harrison
George O'Hara
George O'Hara-Smith
L'Angelo Misterioso
Nelson Wilbury
P. Roducer
Son Of Harry
Spike Wilbury

It's obvious that most of these are winking, so I think a better name than stage name or pseudonym might even be "alias." I don't know that any of them, say, registered copyrights with any of these names....

So I guess there's part of my dissertation. I have no idea if this has any legal or scholarly weight whatsoever, but here's how I think of them:

--Stage name: consistently used by an artist as part of a visible public identity. Other musical examples: Slash, Axl Rose, Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars, Tracii Guns, everybody in The Ramones and Motley Crue, Marilyn Manson, Kip Winger -- oops, that's his real name.....

Declan MacManus had his name legally changed to Elvis Costello...then legally changed it BACK, but only did one album under that name....

Elton John and Freddie Mercury were known under those names long before they started on the roads that led them to fame -- so in that sense, almost NOT stage names.....

Oh yeah, Bono and The Edge. Sting.

--Pseudonym: obscuring identity, but also frequently to create a meaningful body of work separate from the artist's other name(s).

--Alias: goofing around. I dunno though, maybe this category needs a better name than "alias"...but if it's a wink where you're supposed to also know (or guess) the real name, it's somehow different from pseudonym I think...or is it just another category of pseudonym?

See? This is why I don't actually write dissertations, even if it looks like I do.

Anyway, I haven't thought as much about this as for movies, as my great-uncle Mike wasn't a musician. LOL

And I should note that while Mike used pseudonyms aplenty, his wife, my aunt Dorothy, used a single stage name throughout her career. That's how I learned this distinction so early on. LOL

Tim Wilson
Vice President, Editor-in-Chief
Creative COW

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Scott SheriffRe: stage name... for a producer?
by on Dec 29, 2012 at 7:21:19 pm

It's not as uncommon as you think. In the freelance world you have to take what comes along for the most part, and sometimes for various reasons it isn't something you want your name on. Sometimes the producer won't do 'uncredited' so you have to settle for a pseudonym.

Scott Sheriff
SST Digital Media
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