CBS’ Shatner shitstorm

Has there ever been so much written about a TV show title before it ever even hit the air?

Countless stories and blog posts have already been written about CBS’ “$#*! My Dad Says” — the William Shatner laffer based on the Twitter feed “Shit My Dad Says.”

Around here, live from atop of the mighty Variety Tower, we’ve been on a mission to dub the show “Shat My Dad Says” — thanks to the presence of the almighty Shat himself in the lead. (Well, OK, some of us have. Variety editors aren’t too keen on using “Shat,” I’ve slowly discovered.)

I’d love to see the memos that went back and forth between Eye and Warner Bros. execs and CBS’ lawyers in the days and weeks leading up to the upfronts, as the network decided what they’d be able to actually use.

To their credit, the Eye didn’t wimp out and call the show “Stuff My Dad Says.” Or “That’s My Papa!” Or “The William Shatner Show.” Or “Shat Attack!” (Actually, that last one would have been awesome.)

Instead, they found a compromise, and it involves borrowing from the comics pages — where swear words have been uttered via typography for years.

“$#*! My Dad Says.”

The even better abbreviation “$#!+” didn’t pass muster (apparently that looks a little too much like the word “Shit”), yet the almost-abbreviation “$#*!” was deemed OK by the powers that be. The key, of course, is the dollar sign — as long as “$” is there, people will get it.

For its part, CBS has been very careful in not publicly referring to it as “Shit My Dad Says.” 

The word “shit” was bandied about quite often (actually, rather surprisingly so) at CBS’ upfront presentation last week Many of those mentions, however, were utilized by research chief David Poltrack, whose reference to “bullshit numbers” at a winter conference was turned into a dance remix. (Really.)

But Nina Tassler made sure never to say “Shit My Dad Says” during the upfront  — sticking with CBS’ preferred pronunciation: “Bleep My Dad Says.” Actually, Nina never came close to saying the title at all. (An announcer referred to “Bleep My Dad Says” in the cutdown, and Tassler did quip that “we have some really funny shit” after “Big Bang Theory” on Thursdays.)

Yep, CBS will forever pronounce “$#*!” as “Bleep” — although you and I (wink, wink) know what it really stands for. 

That apparently has satisfied the lawyers, as there’s no FCC rule against using a dollar sign, pound sign, asterisk and exclamation mark and pronouncing it as “Bleep” over the broadcast airwaves. (And that’s actually someone saying the word “Bleep” — not an audio tone censoring something more unsavory.)

And, as we also learned last week, that’s enough for the PTC to send out a press release, protesting the title. (Honestly, shouldn’t they be more offended by the title to “The Big Bang Theory”?)

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