The Strange Art of Picking a TV Title

Selecting the right title for a TV series can mean the difference between success and failure: just ask the producers of Cougar Town. Would Friends have done as well with the name Six of One or Across the Hall? The Hollywood Reporter makes some points about how to find a good title, and then has the accounts of how several hit shows were named. For example, That '70s Show went through a few song titles that never panned out. Executive producer Tom Werner tells the story.
"Teenage Wasteland was our tentative title. It was on the first draft, but we couldn't get the rights to it from The Who. So we went back to the drawing board and came up with 30 titles. [Among them was The Kids Are Alright, another Who song, which songwriter Pete Townshend shot down as well.] Eventually, we came up with Feelin' All Right [which then-Fox president Peter Roth presented to advertisers at the 1998 upfront in New York]. As we got closer, the network decided that wasn't memorable enough. And frankly, it wouldn't have been. Finally, [co-creator] Bonnie Turner says, "You know, why don't we just call it That '70s Show? Because that's what everyone is going to end up calling it anyway. No matter what we come up with, they'll say, 'Did you see that '70s show?' " We all looked at her and said, 'You're right.' It was inspired."

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When Martin Caidin wrote his great science fiction thriller, Cyborg, the best TV producers could do for an alternate title for the series they made it into was "Six Million Dollar Man." So incredibly, mind-searingly, stomach-churningly lame. How it became a hit I can't imagine.
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