The phenomenon of runaway producer credits is a topic of special interest to me — maybe because it feels too much like the situation in high school where a couple loafers glom onto the work of others on a group project, and it thus strikes a nerve — so it’s worth noting that the recent indie flick Yonkers Joe tallies a dozen top-lined producers, including star Chazz Palminteri, and that’s not counting a line producer and two associate producers.
Still, I tend to give independent films more of a pass, and I think others (to the extent anyone else cares about this) do too. Why? Because there are more side deals to be made, many more gears to be greased when making a film outside of the studio system. And that sometimes means making deals with unsavory characters, or simply asshats that want a spread of personal pictures with Keira Knightley and Jessica Biel, and are willing to dole out a couple million dollars to get them. So those guys get producer credits — hedge fund managers and dotcom cowboys, multimedia tycoons and silver-spoon business scions — because “filthy rich bore” or “necessary evil” are credits deemed too insensitive. And that’s fine, in my book. If suffering wealthy dullards is the price of a go-it-alone shot at great art that Hollywood studios want to make, I’m not going to hold it hard-and-fast against the real-deal players that lent these guys the same credit they take.
But, on a knee-jerk level, if I see a dozen names on a studio film, I think overkill, and immediately start scanning for the star’s manager, or some other corporate glad-hander who somehow manages to accrue two dozen credits a year, despite not being part of a start-up, self-sufficient production shingle. There’s no reason, to my mind, that an originally conceived studio film with no labyrinthine source material backstory needs 10 producers. There just isn’t.
I’ve talked with a lot of producers about this issue, both on the record and off, and while many are pissed about it, a lot more are awfully touchy. “Don’t rock the boat, whaddya gonna do, go along to get along,” they seem to say, in ways both fancy and abstruse. In this regard, Hollywood is like the Mafia, or a corrupt police union; there’s an unspoken code (“Those who need to know know“), and there’s less interest in exposing credit-mongering than exposing those who want to expose it.