Thanks to a "creative conflict" with screenwriter/producer Joe Eszterhas, director Arthur Hiller has asked that his name be removed from the movie credits. Since the only authorized pseudonym that the Directors Guild allows in such cases is "Alan Smithee," An Alan Smithee Film has really become an Alan Smithee film.
The upcoming comedy is about a director who hates the final cut of an action film and wants his name off. But since his name in fact is Alan Smithee, his only alternative is to steal and destroy the negative. Sly Stallone, Whoopi Goldberg , Jackie Chan and other celebs play themselves.
This is the first time Hiller, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, has asked that his name be removed from a film. The reason: Eszterhas re-cut the director's version of the film--and reportedly got much higher scores at two research screenings than Hiller's version did.
Hiller was none too pleased, and he and the writer engaged in a "heated exchange" Thursday in the lobby of a Los Angeles theater. Hiller, according to Daily Variety, told Eszterhas that he didn't approve of his meddling, and Eszterhas invited him to become a real-life Alan Smithee, adding that Hiller "should offer to kiss my ass in Times Square for saving this film."
Eszterhas swears the incident isn't a ploy to attract attention. "I know some people will think this is a guerrilla-style publicity stunt in a guerrilla production. It isn't... I have the greatest respect and affection for Arthur, and I'm sorry that our differences over the editing...led him to take this action....I know in my heart Hiller...will not steal the negative and burn it...."