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FiTV - Fiona Gardiner
2012-02-24 at 11:26

The name game

I hated my name as a kid. 

At that time, there was no Fiona Apple or Princess Fiona. And being a shy and quiet kid, nobody could make out my name. 

So I’d say it again, louder. They’d look confused. “Weeona?  Leona?” So I’d try again, this time screwing up my face as I over-enunciated every consonant and vowel. 

It’s only five letters. How hard could it be? But most people just looked at me funny and nodded their heads to appease me.
What’s in a name? Forget Shakespeare. Just ask Jason Bateman who lovingly gazed into his newborn daughter’s eyes and then put “Maple” on her birth certificate. 

Or Jason Lee who should be punished for crimes against humanity after naming his son Pilot Inspektor. And I cannot wait for the day when Gwyneth Paltrow’s kid retaliates for getting stuck with “Apple.”

In Hollywood, a name is everything and it’s usually fake. Only in Tinsel Town would someone drop the handle they were born with in favour of Engelbert Humperdinck. 

So the name has power. And as pilot season is now upon us – that special time of year when the industry tries out potential new shows – the five major networks have been name dropping like M&M’s in a bunny cage: that of the shows, the actors, the producers and the writers.

Some readers might be thrilled to discover that Natalie Portman is executive producing something or that Kevin Bacon is coming to series television.  But the only names I’m interested in belong to the shows, themselves.

The name sets the stage.  Short and sweet is good, but it should catch your interest and be somewhat informative – which is why, when the time comes, I’ll skip Applebaum, Trooper and Rebounding. 

Some names give the show an obvious context – but not in a good way. Friend Me, White Van Man, Super Fun Night and Widow Detective could definitely use some re-tooling.

A really long title may stand out, but people will tire of having to say it.  Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place and 8 Simple Rules for
Dating My Teenage Daughter were obvious in their mid-season abbreviations. 

But what do you do with How to Live With Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life? 

They could go the initial route like HIMYM for How I Met Your Mother. 

But that would be HTLWYPFTROYL – which might as well be the bottom line on an eye chart.

Of course, the pilot list also includes shows that have foregone a formal title – obviously, for fear of my extensively scientific method of weeding out the substandard productions. 

There’s the Untitled Nick Stoller Project, the Untitled Ralph Lamb Project, the Untitled Kevin Williamson Project ….
Thus far, there’s only a handful of titles on the pilot list that interest me. 

Of course, all these names could change before you and I set our PVRs – and fortunately, they probably will.


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