Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, March 16, 2021

When I first walked up to this Soho construction-site graffiti near the corner of Houston and (I think) Suffolk Streets, I was initially amused by the notion that street artists were inspired by Barry Manilow’s timeless ’70s rendition of “Can’t Smile Without You”.

Then, looking at this picture after I cameraphoned it (and uploaded it to Flickr), I noticed the misspelling. Amusement multiplied.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/16/2009 09:50:05 PM
Category: Comedy, New Yorkin', Photography, Pop Culture
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Scientifictional geeks everywhere are doubtlessly aghast at Sci Fi Channel’s impending rebranding to Syfy.

Especially when they hear the lame-assed reasons for the name-change:

One big advantage of the name change, the executives say, is that Sci Fi is vague — so generic, in fact, that it could not be trademarked. Syfy, with its unusual spelling, can be, which is also why diapers are called Luvs, an online video Web site is called Joost and a toothpaste is called Gleem.

“We couldn’t own Sci Fi; it’s a genre,” said Bonnie Hammer, the former president of Sci Fi who became the president of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment and Universal Cable Productions. “But we can own Syfy.”

So, I guess Space Channel, the Canadian counterpart to Sci Fi, is screwed because it, too, can’t trademark its generic-sounding name? From what I hear, Space is qualitatively superior to Sci Fi already, so their brand identity must be working for them (unless they decide to follow this lead and change their name to “Spayce”…)

That qualitative superiority is secure too, judging by what parent company NBC Univeral has in store:

Ms. Hammer and her successor as Sci Fi president, Dave Howe, said they had sat through many meetings over the years at which a name change was debated.

The principal reason the idea kept coming up, Mr. Howe said, was a belief “the Sci Fi name is limiting.”

“If you ask people their default perceptions of Sci Fi, they list space, aliens and the future,” he added. “That didn’t capture the full landscape of fantasy entertainment: the paranormal, the supernatural, action and adventure, superheroes.”

That became more important as Sci Fi expanded its program offerings into those realms, Mr. Howe said, with series like “Destination Truth” and “Ghost Hunters.”

So they go from a name that’s “limiting” to a name that means… well, nothing at all. Leading to a cable outlet that’s essentially a blank slate, with no particular overriding theme. All the better to cram in a bunch of reality shows that only tangentially relate to science fiction/fantasy, and further erode any distinction that a single-genre cable network should have.

I shouldn’t sound so bitter, because I never watch Sci Fi anyway. The last time I regularly tuned into it was when they were still running “Mystery Science Theater 3000″ reruns. So I guess I’m part of the audience they’re trying to attract — lots of luck there.

As for the loss of the sci-fi tag from what’s supposed to have been the television home of sci-fi: Reminds me of the decades-long debate over merits of the nickname. I believe a contingent of fandom disdain it, preferring “SF” as a more serious designator. Others puckishly insist on pronouncing the common tag as “skiffy” as a form of mild protest. Obviously, none of these camps are going to be too happy about the advent of Syfy; maybe they’ll start to derisively call the reborn network “seefee”…

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/16/2009 09:00:05 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., TV
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