"to executive produce"

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Sun Nov 9 20:17:12 UTC 2008

The term also has a particular distinction and resonance in the industry.

"Producer" is a vague title that can connote a wide variety of roles,
everything from the person who is primarily responsible for a film or TV
series to a courtesy title thrown at someone marginally connected to the
project as a sop to their ego. So when someone in the industry says they are
"producing" something, no one really knows what that means or what their
role in the production actually is.

An "executive producer" title, however, carries a precise meaning. The
executive producer is the person in charge of arranging the financing for a
film's production and overseeing the logistics of a production. So when
someone says they are "executive producing" a project, everyone knows
exactly what that means and that it is a position of significant
responsibility and influence.

And in television, the executive producer is even more important. The
executive producer is usually the creator of the TV series and the primary
creative force behind it--akin to the director of a feature film. In TV
production, the director has a less prestigious role, usually confined to
being responsible for the on-time delivery of a particular episode within
the creative construct set by the executive producer and cannot make major
creative inputs to the series as a whole.

"To executive produce" has been around for quite a while--I've been hearing
it for at least a decade and it's probably older than that.

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
Arnold Zwicky
Sent: Sunday, November 09, 2008 9:36 AM
Subject: "to executive produce"

recently i've been posting (here and on Language Log) about two-part
back-formed verbs
("to gay marry", "to early/absentee/advance vote", "to offshore
drill", "to underage drink").  these particular examples are
relatively recent innovations, and therefore noticeable (and objected
to by many), but such back-formations have been entering the language
at least since the early 19th century and many have become entirely
naturalized, their back-formative origin no longer appreciated by most
speakers: houseclean, cross-refer, hard-boil [an egg], babysit, air-
condition, fine-tune, free associate, etc.

now chris waigl has pointed out "to executive produce", which gets a
huge number of web hits (in its various forms).  you can see why it's
so popular: "X will executive produce Y" says more than "X will
produce Y", and it has an agentive subject, unlike the paraphrase "X
will be the executive producer of Y" (which is also longer than "X
will executive produce Y").

i have the feeling that this one has been around for a while, but it's
hard to check out.  we don't seem  to have discussed it on ADS-L, and
even things like "executive producer" ("executive secretary",
"executive chairman", etc.) are not so easy to track: NOAD2 and AHD4
have the relevant sense for the adjective "executive": 'having the
power to put plans, actions, or laws into effect' (NOAD2), with cites
for "executive secretary" and "executive chairman", but the OED has
only the more general sense 'having the function of executing or
carrying into practical effect', with no cites close to "executive
producer" etc. (and of course nothing for "executive produce").

has anyone seen discussion of this one?


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The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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