Yesterday I received an email from a complete stranger who was looking to partner up on some potential show ideas. I’d never met or heard of the guy before but his email proudly touted his credentials as creator of a recent ABC series (in a spirit of fairness I won’t mention his or the show’s name) and stated that he had hundreds of show ideas ready to pitch that were going to make anyone who worked with him rich.

Now as you know from my Pitch Imperfect piece – comments like these always raise a red flag for me. But I did a quick check and sure enough he didn’t have a credit on the show, received no mention at all on the Wikipedia show page and didn’t have a single credit to his name on IMDB. In short – he’s another credit-grabber in an industry overflowing with them. It’s one of my pet peeves!

The credit that most infuriates me is the lofty title of Executive Producer. For perhaps obvious reasons it’s the credit everyone aspires too (you don’t see many people puffing up their Assistant Producer credits) and there’s something a little bit wooly about the title anyway. A show only has one Show Runner but most have multiple Executive Producer credits – from both the network and production company side. Therefore the credit gets handed out like candy and everyone wants a bite.

I once was at a networking event when a 23-year-old guy came over and started chatting with me. He was looking for an internship with my company so I gave him my details, whereupon he handed me his own business card. His title – Executive Producer. Really? On what? Fantasy Island?

I started Executive Producing when I was in my early thirties and even that is a little fast-tracked, but nowadays nobody wants to pay their dues. Kids straight out of college want to go from PA to Executive in just a couple of years, or they feel they’re being left behind. The idea of paying your dues never even enters the equation. But paying your dues has useful consequences – it means when you are in a position of power you’re going to know what you’re doing. What a quaint concept in 2010.

But the credits that most infuriate me are what I call Vanity credits – handed out to the talent associated with a show. As I’ve mentioned before, every time you hear Tyra Banks talk about America’s Next Top Model she proudly assets how she created the show – and in the show’s credits her name is first and foremost. It’s an assertion that infuriates me as I really don’t believe Tyra did create the show. I’m sure her name helped get the show on air – and all credit to her for that – but creating a show is a lot more than just a one-line idea. A format like Top Model takes a lot of development, false turns, meetings and notes to come together and unless you have a solid TV background you just become a passenger in the process. Tyra, hop on board!

But Tyra’s not alone. Now anyone with their own reality show gets an Executive Producer credit. Kris Jenner, matriarch of the Kardashian clan gets an EP credit on both Keeping Up With The Kardashians and Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami. Kimora Lee Simmons gets one for Kimora. I wonder if Kate Gosselin will receive one for her upcoming Twist of Fate show? The Situation’s can’t be far behind…

The problem nowadays is that everyone, especially if they live in LA, is so entertainment ‘savvy’ – or at least their lawyers are – that they’re on a credit grab for as much credit as they can get. I did a pilot a few years back and negotiating the deal with the host – a complete unknown – was a nightmare due to the title his lawyer was asking for. A network will play ball if you’re a big name but if you’re not – really what are you thinking?

People ask for credits because it’s seen as an easy ‘get’. It doesn’t cost a network anything to give away a credit – especially on shows with multiple EP credits (often as many as 8-10 per show) – unlike a percentage of profits or a higher fee of course. But for me it does cost something. I think it devalues all the real producers out there who have worked their way up the career ladder and paid their dues. And it doesn’t happen in other industries – people wouldn’t say they tried a case if they hadn’t or get the credit for a dress they didn’t design.

But what do you think? What credits make you roll your eyes – and have you come across many credit grabbers yourself… feel free to share those stories…