Ultimate acts of artistic/creative sabotage by the corporate powers-that-be.

What are your ultimate forced compromises, re-edits, substitutions, changes, etc. that were forced on a great work of art or entertainment by the money-holding powers-that-be? Maybe it was a movie that was re-edited against the director’s will because its test-screenings went poorly, or maybe it was an album that the label insisted on adding songs to or removing songs from because it would sell better. Have at it!

Mine is Nirvana - “In Utero” - Kurt specifically recorded the album with Steve Albini, famed producer behind the Pixies’ “Surfer Rosa,” the Breeders’ “Pod,” and other great records. He wanted the Albini sound - raw, “live,” messy - which he got…that is, until the label turned the master tapes over to Scott Litt, known for his slick work with REM, to remix!

A relatively obscure comic book series that I loved anyway, Wildcats 3.0, written by Joe Casey. He took a generic, forgettable team of X-Men ripoffs from the early '90s, wrote out or killed off the dead weight characters, and set the remaining ones (and a handful of his own creations) in an excellent post-superhero epic that dealt with alternative ways to save the world. One character, formerly the stoic android field leader, gave up his costume for a reflective silver business suit and became a corporate CEO, selling batteries powered by an otherworldly energy source that was clean, safe, and limitless, and the batteries would never run out. Needless to say, he started making enemies throughout the corporate world and the upper echelons of the U.S. government. In his quest to make the world a better place using corporate power instead of super powers, he hired the team’s former hotheaded gunslinging mercenary to be his “fixer,” and started planting his own agents in various government agencies to monitor their activities pertaining to the corporation.

It might sound boring, but I was riveted. Like I said, there were no more costumes, minimal super powers, hardly any more code names, and very little fighting. But it was a smart, slick thriller, full of espionage and intrigue and quiet, subtle heroism disguised as capitalism. So of course it got canceled, and Casey was forced to abruptly end the series on #24 with a literal deus ex machina ending, rushed resolutions to the main plot, and countless dangling plot threads that would have been fascinating if he could have had even six more issues to conclude his run. Ah, what could have been.

Of course, DC Comics decided to relaunch Wildcats as an action spectacular with most of the '90s characters back in their costumes, sweeping most of Casey’s story elements under the rug. The original artist, superstar Jim Lee, was back, along with A-list writer Grant Morrison, both of whom can sell comics on name alone. They came out with one issue about a year ago, and nothing since.

The resurrection of dead people to advertise products is something I find repulsive.

The sitcom Bob – starring Bob Newhart. The show was a good one, set in a comic book publisher, with a great cast of characters. CBS moved it all around the schedule, but it still got tolerable ratings (especially when it stayed in one time slot). So they renewed it. However, the network insisted on a reworking, so all the supporting characters were dropped (other than Bob’s family) and they added Jere Burns and Betty White and moved Bob to a greeting card company (where he had happily left to work on his comic, so it was a step back for the character). The revamped show sucked and was cancelled.

And, of course, there was Brazil.

Nearly sabotaged was The Stunt Man whose studio sat on for years until director Richard Rush managed to get them to release it.

The first thing I thought of was 20th Century Fox’s handling of Mike Judge’s “Idiocracy”, but maybe that doesn’t exactly fit the O.P. I don’t know if they tampered with the content, but from what I know they intentionally sabotaged the distribution and promotion of the film.

AOL Time Warner’s attempted editing of Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. But this time, the corporate wonks lost when Wilco bought their way out from their contract and later released it on Nonesuch Records to near-universal acclaim and enormous sales.

Ridley’s Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven is rumored to be amazingly different between the version that was released in the theaters, and the version that was intended.

Fortunately, this thread reminded me to order it so I can see!

The longer version is so much better than the one released in theaters. For one thing, it makes more sense.

Well, the Babylon 5 spinoff Crusade was good fun (I think the characters sold it more than the plot), even though TNT decided to send a bunch of pygmies with mallets to work it over until they canceled it before it aired.

That, and the bellhop uniforms. Yargh.

I don’t think that’s quite what happened. Time Warner was very, very supportive of Wilco working independently in their loft in Chicago. When they finished, they were ready to mix it in the studio and begin promo.

Then they were dropped. Time Warner didn’t know what to do with them or their album. Wilco had already received a great deal of popular acclaim for their previous albums, but they were hardly “the next big thing.” And Yankee Hotel Foxtrot promised to be a very difficult album to promote. I mean, seriously, how would you even categorize that album? I

According to the documentary being shot at the time, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, it came as quite a shock that TIme Warner wanted to drop them. I never got the impression that the band or their manager wanted to be dropped. Jeff Tweedy was pretty hurt/confused by the decision. In fact, Time Warner bought them out, then Nonsuch eventually picked them up, with a nice contract. Nonsuch is a division of Time Warner. So basically, Time Warner paid them twice. Once to drop them, once to pick them up.

ETA: it’s also important to note that Wilco went out on tour with their album for several months before Nonsuch picked them up. By the time the album was actually released, they had already done a lot of work to make it successful.

Dune is one of my favourite films - has a reputation for being mangled by the studios. To be honest though, it is a glorious mess and there is no way a studio exec was going to stand for it being released uncut, especially as it had an enormous budget for the time. It has two beginnings these days, depending on which version you see.

Mary Margaret O’Hara has never followed up her classic Miss America album AFAIK. I have heard anecdotes about record companies sitting on her material, but have no idea if it is true or not. It is really odd not to make at least one other album of her own stuff.

The UK music journalist Everett True said exactly this on a recent Nirvana documentary - he heard the ‘in utero’ demo and couldn’t believe his ears it was that amazing. He said something over the top like there was no doubt in his mind that it was going to change the face of modern rock music. Months later when the record appears its a total different sound.

Because nobody else has said this yet: Firefly.

This was sabotaged? :confused:

The Sci-Fi Channel for a time was headed by people who hated science fiction. IIRC, that’s what led to the ultimate cancellation of MST3K.

Absolutely. The Fox execs dumped the original pilot and gave Joss Whedon a weekend to write a new pilot (which became Episode 2: The Train Job), then showed the episodes out of order and, I think, fiddled with time slots. Marketing was also not nearly as good as it could have been. What was an excellent show became a poorly constructed, muddled story that simply could not hold peoples’ attention. Things turned around once Whedon was able to release the DVDs in the proper order, and people saw that it was in fact a good show.

Snip a 1976 comedy show starring David Brenner and Leslie Ann Warren.NBC supposedly pulled because it gasp had a gay character.

Granted, it’s been over 30 years but I somehow the recall that the controversy wasn’t just that there was a gay regular character (which, in 1976, would’ve been problematic enough for network suits to sell to “middle America”) but that a number of gay rights groups had objected to the character as being offensively stereotypical.

Then there was Zach from Heroes, whose creator/writer seemed to be of the opinion he was gay but who NBC stated was absolutely not. (Instead he was an all American hetero kid who could sit in a cheerleader’s bedroom away from any parents and never feel the slightest urge to merge.)

This might be in reference to the order in which the episodes were aired. FOX made an episode intended to be maybe third into the series premier, made the intended premier air later, and just generally fucked with the order of things. The DVDs have the episodes in their intended order, which allows the show to have chronological developments and clearer character mini-arcs. The DVDs do say when each episode aired as well, if you want to see FOX’s order. Suffice it to say that the intended order made a LOT more sense.

Here is the clear winner.
What do I win?

Absolutely. It’s a very different movie. I’m on record as loving the theatrical release, but with some hesitation due to glaring plot holes. The Director’s Cut not only answered all of my questions, but brought out subtleties and subplots that never should have been trimmed in the first place. I think it’s Ridley Scott’s crowning achievement.