MOVIE: What's Love Got To Do With It? (1993)

PRODUCER: Ike Turner

PLAYED BY: Laurence Fishburne

When it comes to record producers getting a bad rap on film, Ike Turner is the motherfucker who invented the stereotype, and in What's Love Got To Do With It?, Oscar-nominated Laurence Fishburne brilliantly gives the psychotic svengali his due. From berating his wife Tina to "sing like a man!" to raping her into belting "Nutbush City Limits" just the way he wants it, Fishburne's Ike is a coked-up, dumbed-down, psycho workaholic who eventually drives poor Tina to attempt both suicide and Buddhism. Thankfully, the real-life Tina escaped and went on to work with such nonviolent producers as Mark Knopfler, who could hardly beat an egg, much less a Buddhist. DAVID SCHMADER

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978)

PRODUCER: B. D. Brockhurst

PLAYED BY: Donald Pleasence

This tragically brilliant acid nightmare is based ever-so-loosely on the Beatles' classic LP. The Bee Gees (!) plus Peter Frampton (!!) are a fun-lovin' (and self-produced) small-town band that gets lured to the big city to become rock stars. Thanks to the insidious influence of big-time record producer B. D. Brockhurst (played malevolently by the late Donald Pleasence), the boys succumb to corruption and sins of the flesh, including bucket-sized snifters of booze and interracial sex. SEAN NELSON

One Trick Pony (1980)

PRODUCER: Steve Kunelian

PLAYED BY: Lou ReedThe best joke in this Paul Simon vanity project (aside from Simon and Mare Winningham's bathtub scene) is the casting of the great and terrible Lou Reed as the company man record producer who insists that Simon's character, a songwriter, dumb down his lyrics and add superfluous horns to his production. Though Reed was never far from a drug coma in those days, the famously "difficult" genius clearly relishes the opportunity to say "fuck you" to the men in the control booth. SEAN NELSON

MOVIE: La Bamba (1987)


PLAYED BY: Joe Pantoliano

Bobbo of Del-Fi Records isn't a bad guy; he really believes in Richard Valenzuela's music.... All he asks is that Richie change his name (to Valens), fire his band, perform innumerable and indistinguishable vocal takes, forsake his brother, and die in a plane crash. The eternal question: How bad do you want it, kid? An essential film. SEAN NELSON

Josie and the Pussycats (2001)

PRODUCER: Wyatt Frame

PLAYED BY: Alan Cumming

Distilling the producer metaphor down to its nefarious essence, record exec Wyatt Frame turns an idealistic garage-rock girl group into nothing less than the mouthpiece for corporate world domination. Frame--played by the clownishly femmy and witty Alan Cumming--signs the rocker girls to Mega Records and hustles them into the recording studio, where an evil supercomputer secretly laces the band's songs with subliminal messages that turn teenagers into consumer zombies. JOSH FEIT

The Buddy Holly Story (1978)


PLAYED BY: John Goff

After being discovered playing "bop for those who like to bop" at the local roller-skating rink, white rock 'n' roll pioneer Buddy Holly goes to Nashville to make his first record. Things go awry, however, when the record company tries to shoehorn Holly into a Grand Ole Opry mix. "We don't play hillbilly!" Holly protests. But the cigar-chomping producer, wearing a brown car-salesman outfit, tells Holly (in an evil Southern drawl): "We don't record negro records here." Holly storms into the control room and punches the producer in the jaw. Holly, as the movie tells us, went on to become the first rock 'n' roller to produce his own records. JOSH FEIT

Grace of My Heart (1996)

PRODUCER: Joel Millner

PLAYED BY: John Turturro

As a conspicious-rug-wearing, goatee-sporting manager/producer who leaves a slime trail of ambition, bravado, and broken dreams in his wake, Joel Millner (John Turturro) fits the stereotype of a producer to a tee. He's a talent scout who runs a stable of Brill Building-esque songwriting talent. He molds, browbeats, and encourages Denise Waverly (Illeana Douglas), offering her advice like, "You're either a singer or a songwriter. You can't be both." He changes his tune when he thinks he can make a buck off her. Not that he's all bad. He sticks by her through three decades of really bad music and even worse lip-synching. NATE LIPPENS

Phantom of the Paradise (1974)


PLAYED BY: Paul Williams

Short, fey, narcissistic, and possibly the Devil himself, Swan chains a musical genius to a piano, makes him sign a contract in blood, steals all of his work, has him thrown in prison, has all of his teeth pulled out, and is indirectly responsible for the genius being horribly disfigured when his head gets caught in a record-pressing machine. BRET FETZER

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)


PLAYED BY: John Lazar

While attending a wild party thrown by a hip fashion designer, rock-star hopefuls Kelly, Casey, and Petronella meet the flamboyant and hedonistic (even by wacked-out '60s cinema standards) Z-Man, who remakes the girls into the Carrie Nations. Jealous boyfriend flip-outs, lesbian affairs, and a psycho boxer lead Z-Man to go on a crazy-ass homicidal killing spree. John Lazar, who plays Z-Man, claimed Russ Meyer ruined his career by casting him as a maniac, and eventually went crazy-ass homicidal on himself. KATHLEEN WILSON