Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A TV Show Marches on Its Working Title

You may have watched the season premiere of ''Las Vegas'' last night, but did you know that ''Las Vegas'' was originally called ''Casino Eye?'' I had no idea until I added many working titles to my database on Sunday.

I especially like the working title I entered just before ''Casino Eye.'' ''The Untitled Foster Project.'' Doesn't quite roll of the tongue like ''The Princes of Malibu,'' does it? But every series has to start with a working title.

And a working title is critical. How do you hire actors and writers without one? Do you ask a writer, "Why don't you come work on this thing with me?" But which thing is it? Fortunately, working titles don't have to live forever. The concept and actors can grow and a new buzz-worthy name is created before the premiere.

Most often the working title doesn't change that much. It might lose an exclamation point (''Bette!'' became ''Bette''), change a letter (''Numbers'' became ''Numb3rs''), shorten (''That's My Rodney'' became "Rodney''), or lengthen (''A Few Simple Rules'' became ''8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter'').

But sometimes the title completely changes. ''Community Center'' first became ''American Wreck'' and then became ''Danny.''

Some people might even say that working titles are prophetic. ''Danny'' was truly an ''American Wreck.'' ''Chest Pains'' became ''Royal Family'' and then Red Foxx died of a heart attack shortly after the series premiered. Coincidence? Or prophecy?

Match each series (left) with its working title (right).

Series NameWorking Title
1.''According to Jim''a.''23:12''
2.''Diff'rent Strokes''b.''45 Minutes from Harlem''
3.''Eve''c.''All My Life''
4.''Happy Days''d.''Crossroads''
5.''Jesse''e.''The Dad''
6.''The John Larroquette Show''f.''Family Business''
7.''Leave It to Beaver''g.''Family Planning''
8.''Married with Children''h.''It's a Small World''
9.''The Partridge Family''i.''New Family in Town''
10.''Reba''j.''Not the Cosbys''
11.''That '70s Show''k.''The Opposite Sex''
12.''Watching Ellie''l.''Teenage Wasteland''


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