NBC plays the name game with pilots

The “untitled project” is a common feature of any pilot season, the networks letting decisions on names linger like the proud parents of Baby Boy Smith. Now, NBC has finally christened (or re-christened) several of its candidates for the 2011-12 TV season — not that the names can’t be changed later.

— The upcoming Stephen Gaghan drama starring Jimmy Smits has had its title changed from “SILA” (Special Investigations L.A.) to “Metro.”

— NBC’s comedy from Emily Spivey (with Lorne Michaels on board as an exec producer as well) is now “Alpha Mom,” starring Christina Applegate, Will Arnett and Maya Rudolph.

— The untitled Dan Goor project toplined by Jean Smart has been baptized “Family Practice.”

— Kari Lizer’s untitled comedy with Sarah Paulson and Adrian Pasdar gets the name “Help Wanted.”

— For the Whitney Cummings project, they’re keeping it simple with “Whitney.”

— Another new title: “Best Friends Forever,” starring co-creators Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair as characters named Lennon and Jessica. This is the comedy from Scot Armstrong and Ravi Nandan.

Meanwhile, there are some interesting names in the NBC pilot director mix … here’s a roundup.

Drama: Michael Mayer (“Spring Awakening”) for “Smash,” John Melfi (“Sex and the City”) for “A. Mann’s World,” Jeffrey Reiner (“Friday Night Lights”) for “Wonder Woman,” Michael Rymer (“Battlestar Galactica”) for “17th Precinct,” David Slade (“Twilight: Eclipse”) for “REM,” Alan Taylor (“Mad Men” for “The Playboy Club.”

Comedy: Andy Ackerman (“Seinfeld”) for “Whitney,” James Griffiths (“Episodes”) for “Alpha Mom,” Todd Holland (“Malcolm in the Middle”) for “Free Agents,” Rob Greenberg (“Frasier”) for “Love Lives,” Nicole Holofcener (“Please Give”) for “I Hate That I Love You”), Michael Patrick Jann (“Flight of the Conchords”) for “Brave New World,” Gail Mancuso (“30 Rock”) for “Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea,” Fred Savage (“Party Down”) for “Best Friends Forever,” Michael Spiller (“Modern Family”) for “My LIfe as an Experiment,” Ted Wass (“Rules of Engagement”) for “Family Practice,” Craig Zisk (“Nurse Jackie”) for both “Bent” and “Help Wanted.”

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