Watch Your Language: 'Executive-Produced' Is Not A Word

I sometimes consider myself to be the executive producer of the TV Blog, but I do not “executive-produce” it.

This contrived, hyphenated verb has bothered me ever since it started to crop up some years ago in the press releases I receive daily from the TV publicity apparatus.

Suddenly, an entire communications industry decided it was too difficult or cumbersome in the heavy labor of constructing a sentence to identify a person as an “executive producer” of a TV show.

Instead, a shortcut was devised whereby the title of “executive producer” in publicity and promotion copy became “executive-produced.”

“Executive-produced by” became the norm. What can I say? I write for a living. This kind of contrivance bugs me. 



That’s a true story, but not an “untold” one. That’s another phrase -- “untold story,” seen in the example in the above photo -- that brings out the cynic in me, but more on that later.

Before I go on, if this TV Blog bugs anybody, or they wish to suggest that I get a life, then they are welcome to share their thoughts in the comment section below.

“Executive-produced” does not hold up under scrutiny. What does it mean? I take it to suggest that a TV show was produced in an executive-like manner, whatever that means.

The thing is, why not leave well enough alone and simply identify these people whose names are high up in the credits as “executive producers”? 

It sounds like a pretty good title. If I were an executive producer, I would insist upon it.

So far, executive-produced has not led to other, similar constructions such as “senior producer” being replaced by “senior-produced.” 

Produced by a senior? Why not? Senior producers who have been around the film business for years are obviously experienced.

But as far as I know, the experiences of senior producers in movies and television are an untold story too.

As it often does, “untold story” appeared recently in a press release I received about a four-part drama series from India that started streaming on Netflix earlier this month. 

The series might be very good, and the TV Blog regrets singling it out in this way. It is just one example of many.

Called “The Railway Men: The Untold Story of Bhopal 1984,” the miniseries tells the story of a group of Indian railway workers who went way beyond the call of duty to save people in the infamous chemical disaster that killed nearly 2,300 people living nearby.

Poisonous chemicals were released into the air from a factory owned by Union Carbide in the city of Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India, late on the night of December 2, 1984.

In addition to those killed, an estimated 500,000 people were said to have been affected by the poisonous vapor.

It is an infamous, well-known story. But it just may be that the story of the heroic railway men is not well-known.

But a “not well-known” story is not the same as an “untold” story. I cannot know this for certain, but I am willing to bet (oh, maybe five dollars) that it has, in fact, been told. And it should be told; it sounds like a great story.

As executive producer of this TV Blog, I feel I have the flexibility to add another phrase gripe here even though it does not particularly connect to TV.

Question: What are the two most useless words in the English language? Answer: “Learn more.”

I have never “learned more” after clicking on this ubiquitous, two-word phrase found on so many web sites. Instead, this click leads almost invariably down a rabbit hole to nowhere.

Thank you for allowing me to get that off my chest. And if you “learned more,” then that’s even better.

1 comment about "Watch Your Language: 'Executive-Produced' Is Not A Word".
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  1. David Scardino from TV & Film Content Development, November 21, 2023 at 2:23 p.m.

    Adam, excellent as always. Thank you.

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