Name game: TV shows consider their options



Producers face a challenge if another show has rights to their title choice.
By ELLEN GRAY
KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS
"What's in a name?" asked Juliet Capulet, who wouldn't have lasted five minutes in TV.
At least not before legal explained that SAG already had a Romeo Montague on its books, and that her guy had better start calling himself R. Fabio Montague.
And marketing weighed in with what focus groups had to say about teens with ethnic surnames and whether that could sell Gap jeans.
Graphics, of course, would insist on an ampersand, in hopes of linking "Romeo & amp; Juliet" to "Will & amp; Grace."
And if all that wasn't enough to make Juliet's story stand out from the crowd, someone might suggest losing the capital letters altogether.
It's not easy naming TV shows.
Just ask the producers of ABC's new teen drama, "life as we know it," who discovered, according to co-creator Gabe Sachs, that "there is actually someone who owns 'Life As We Know It' with capital letters."
"As long as we don't use capital letters, we were able to use it," he said last month.
No such excuse from Jack Orman, executive producer of CBS' "dr. vegas," who deemed the annoying lower-case "an aesthetic choice."
Not even Mel Gibson is immune from corporate second-guessing.
The sitcom he's producing for ABC with Mike Scully and Julie Thacker-Scully was originally called "Savages."
Now it's "Complete Savages."
"Another show had rights to the title," Scully told reporters last month. "But you guys can just call it 'Savages.'"

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