Generic pseudonym (anagram for “The Alias Man”) used in the television and movie industry to identify a director who worked on a film project but did not want his or her real name used on the screen credits of a film which may prove to be a bomb or too controversial. The “Alan Smithee” moniker was a “parachute for artistic heartbreak.”
Before a director can “take a Smithee,” however, he must first take his case to the Director’s Guild of America (who created the name “Alan Smithee” in 1969) and convince them that their artistic vision of the film project has been destroyed through interference by others. The “Alan Smithee” alias has also been used on episodes of TV programs.
When the motion picture Dune (1984) originally directed by David Lynch was broadcast on television, the special 190-minute TV print credited the director’s job to “Alan Smithee.”
The first instance of the “Alan Smithee” appeared on the credits in the film “Death of a Gunfighter” starring Richard Widmark (using the name “Allen Smithee”). When Hollywood’s little secret was revealed in the movie “Burn Hollywood, Burn” (1998), the Director’s Guild stopped using the “Alan Smithee” credit line in 2000.
See also – “Who is Alan Smithee?” @ You Tube