12 Filmmakers Who Have Apologized For Their Movies and TV Shows

Chuck Lorre for Two and a Half Men
Chuck Lorre for <em>Two and a Half Men</em>
CBS Television Network
It’s been the bane of television writers for more than a decade now, but Chuck Lorre only just got around to apologizing for his hit sitcom Two and a Half Men. At the Television Academy Honors, where he was being recognized for an episode of Mom, he joked “To do a show about people trying to redeem their lives and to salvage and repair the damage they’ve done — for me, it’s an opportunity to apologize.” And while he can’t do anything to make up for the people who used “winning” unironically for years, he’s not the first creator to apologize for his work… nor will he be the last.
Aaron Sorkin for The Newsroom
Aaron Sorkin for <em>The Newsroom</em>
It takes a lot of effort to undo all of the goodwill that Aaron Sorkin earned with The West Wing, but somehow, he did just that with The Newsroom. Aware of the backlash that the show has received, Sorkin apologized in April, saying that the only reason people are upset with The Newsroom is because they don’t understand what he was trying to do. So, now that he’s cleared that up, we can expect an apology for us “misinterpreting” his apology as pretentious any day now.
Michael Bay for Armageddon
Michael Bay for <em>Armageddon</em>
Buena Vista Pictures via Everett Collection
Though its cheesy explosions have won over many, Michael Bay recently apologized for the 1998 blockbuster, saying that it was made on an extremely tight schedule and with too small of a crew, which is why the final product is so disappointing. As for what went wrong with the Transformers films, that’s anyone’s guess.
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Kevin Smith for Mallrats
Kevin Smith for <em>Mallrats</em>
Universal Pictures via Everett Collection
After Clerks put Kevin Smith on the map, there was a great deal of pressure on him to deliver with his follow-up film Mallrats. Unfortunately, critics didn’t react favorably to his sophomore effort, and the influx of negative reviews led Smith to apologize for the film at the Independent Spirit Awards in 1996. He did later admit that he was only joking at the time, and maintains that Mallrats is a very funny movie, even if he’s the only person who thinks so.
Damon Lindelof for the Lost Finale
Damon Lindelof for the <em>Lost</em> Finale
ABC Television Network
When the divisive series finale of Lost first aired back in 2010, Lindelof apologized if fans didn’t feel everything he had hoped to convey with “The End.” However, when the backlash against the unsatisfying conclusion grew, he rescinded his apology, and declared that anyone who didn’t like it wasn’t a “true fan.” In 2011, however, he was inspired by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 to apologize again, this time for turning against his fans. So, as of right now, we’re all good, but with that could change at any moment - let’s hope The Leftovers has a solid finale lined up.
And Damon Lindelof for Star Trek: Into Darkness
And Damon Lindelof for <em>Star Trek: Into Darkness</em>
Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection
Star Trek: Into Darkness upset a lot of people for a lot of different reasons, but there was only one that writer Damon Lindelof apologized for: the gratuitous shot of Alice Eve in her underwear. Well, he sort of apologized. He did promise to do better in the future, but first, he felt the need to point out that Chris Pine was in his underwear as well, although he didn’t mention that it was a brief shot and mostly in shadow.
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...And J.J. Abrams for Star Trek: Into Darkness
...And J.J. Abrams for <em>Star Trek: Into Darkness</em>
Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection
Before he took on the Star Wars franchise, JJ Abrams had to make amends with everyone he upset with Star Trek: Into Darkness. First up on his list? Khan. Not for casting Benedict Cumberbatch, of course, but for lying to the fans that had clearly figured out who he was playing months before the film hit theaters. Although he’s not as sorry about that as he is for all the lens flares.
Joel Schumacher for Batman and Robin
Joel Schumacher for <em>Batman and Robin</em>
Warner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection
Before Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale’s growl rescued the Batman name, Joel Schumacher put George Clooney in a Batsuit and made Batman and Robin, a film so universally derided that it sunk the franchise. Schumacher might not agree with a statement that strong, but he does admit that it wasn’t a great film, and in 2011, he apologized for disappointing fans, and taking full responsibility for everything that went wrong with Batman and Robin. Including the nipples.
Steven Spielberg for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Steven Spielberg for <em>Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull</em>
Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection
When Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull came out, fans of the franchise were disappointed, to put it mildly. Turns out even Steven Spielberg wasn’t a big fan of the film, claiming that while he didn’t like the story, he felt he owed it to best friend George Lucas to follow his lead and shoot whatever story Lucas wrote. We appreciate that kind of loyalty, really, but maybe Spielberg should have stood up to him, on behalf of moviegoers everywhere.
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JD Shapiro for Battlefield Earth
JD Shapiro for <em>Battlefield Earth</em>
Warner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection
If your film wins a Razzie Award, you know you’ve written something terrible. However, if your film wins the Razzie for Worst Film of the Decade, you’ve actually achieved something quite special. At least, that was the perspective that writer JD Shapiro took in 2010, when he wrote an op-ed in the NY Post apologizing for the John Travolta apocalyptic epic Battlefield Earth. In it, he explained that the film he intended to make was darker, grittier, and much better, but studio rewrites changed all that. Still, he couldn’t help but be proud of the end result, in a weird, twisted way, saying “out of all the sucky movies, mine is the suckiest.”
Tim Kring for Season 2 of Heroes
Tim Kring for Season 2 of <em>Heroes</em>
NBC Universal Media
When Heroes first premiered back in 2006, it instantly became a hit, and “Save the Cheerleader, Save the World” became a pop culture catch phrase. However, at the start of season 2, the quality of the show had dropped drastically, so halfway through the season, Tim Kring gave an interview to Entertainment Weekly, in which he apologized for what the show had turned into, and laid out a plan to fix things. Unfortunately, the show never quite recovered from its downturn, and it was canceled two years later. We can only assume that the upcoming miniseries is a formal apology for Seasons 3 and 4.
Jackie Gleason for You’re in the Picture
Jackie Gleason for <em>You’re in the Picture</em>
CBS Television Network
Sure, you could issue a statement or give an interview outlining all of the issues with your project, or you could take a cue from Jackie Gleason’s failed 1961 game show You’re in the Picture,and do a half hour comedy special that detailed every single bad choice that was made. Since Gleason still owed the network some air time after the show only lasted through a single episode, he returned to following week to make amends for “a show that laid the biggest bomb—it would make the H-bomb look like a two-inch salute.” Take note, filmmakers everywhere; that’s how you apologize.