Click here to listen to an NPR interview with Variety awards editor Tim Gray, where he provides a boffo summary of what slanguage is.
Now that Variety is available online, we offer the following glossary of terms, most of which you’re likely to see while scanning this site.
A&R — relating to the artists and repertoire department of a record company; “Capitol sent an A&R man to catch the new act at the Troubadour.”
a.d. — assistant director; “Alan Smithee’s career began as the a.d. on Warners’ ‘Gypsy.’ ”
above the line — Industry term: Industry term for movies and TV budgets. The line refers to money budgeted for creative talent, such as actors, writers, directors, and producers.
ACE — America Cinema Editors.
ad-pub — relating to the advertising and publicity department of a motion picture studio; “Alan Smithee has been elevated to ad-pub VP at Paramount.”
ADG — Art Directors Guild.
affil — television network affiliated station; “Each broadcast network has an annual gathering of its affils.”
AFTRA — American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. National labor union representing performers, journalists and other artists working in entertainment and news. “SAG’s elected leadership looks to be holding out hope for a merger with AFTRA.”
AMPAS — Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
ankle — A classic (and enduring) Variety term meaning to quit or be dismissed from a job, without necessarily specifying which; instead, it suggests walking; “Alan Smithee has ankled his post as production prexy at U.”
anni — anniversary; “American Movie Classics scheduled a night of Elvis Presley pics in observance of the 20th anni of his death.”
arthouse — motion picture theater that shows foreign or non-mainstream independent films, often considered high-brow or “art” films; ” ‘La Cage Aux Folles’ was one of the biggest hits ever on the arthouse circuit.”
ASC — American Society of Cinematographers.
aud — audience; “Liza Minnelli has always had a special rapport with her aud.”
Aussie — Australian; “The Aussie government will vote next week on budget allocations for indigenous film production.” (See also: Oz)
ayem — A Variety coinage meaning morning (a.m.); “Barbara Walters is producing a new ayem skein for ABC.”
b.f. — an abbreviation for boyfriend, usually used in reviews (also g.f.– girlfriend); “The story concerns a woman whose b.f. is on the lam.”
B.O. — box office or box office receipts; ” ‘Boogie Nights’ did brisk biz at the B.O.” or “The B.O. for ‘Men in Black’ is whammo overseas
backdoor pilot — Not a Variety creation, pilot episode filmed as a standalone movie, so it can be broadcast if it is not picked up as a series; Cabler has begun casting its telepic/backdoor pilot “Ichabod and I.”
BAFTA — British Academy of Film and Television Arts.
Beantown — Variety slanguage for Boston, Mass.; “The Cars were one of the biggest rock bands from Beantown.” (See also: (the) Hub)
Beertown — Variety slanguage for Milwaukee, Wisconsin; “Beertown is the final stop on the current ‘Show Boat’ tour.”
BevHills — Beverly Hills; “The Museum of Radio & Television held a gala fundraiser at its BevHills branch.”
BFCA — Broadcast Film Critics Association.
biopic — A Variety coinage meaning biographical film; ” ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter,’ about Loretta Lynn, is one of the most successful biopics ever produced.”
bird — A Variety term for satellite; “The proposed channel would be carried by an Asian bird to be launched next spring.”
biz — shorthand for business or “the business” — show business; “Alan Smithee started out in the biz as a grip” or “Alan Smithee was promoted to VP of biz affairs at Par.”
Blighty — Britain; ” ‘Bean’ is one of the biggest hits to come out of Blighty.”
blurb — TV commercial; “Ridley Scott started his career directing blurbs.”
boff (also boffo, boffola) — outstanding (usually refers to box office performance); ” ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’ has been boffo at the B.O.” (See also, socko, whammo)
boom — Industry term: Overhead microphone used to record actors’ voices
bow — (n.) opening or premiere; (v.) to debut a production; “The pic’s bow was in January”; “The Nederlander Organization will bow its revival of ‘Wonderful Town’ next year.”
busted pilot — Each year, the nets order about 20 pilots a piece (about evenly split, half comedy, half drama), which are then cast and filmed for consideration for the fall skeds. But only about half a dozen pilots are picked up to become the premiere episodes. The other pilots are never heard from again — and are rarely ever seen beyond network boardrooms. “Idea for pic originated from last year’s busted ‘MTM’ reunion pilot.”
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(the) Coast — Hollywood, Los Angeles; “NBC’s New York-based Robert Wright will fly to the Coast for meetings next week.”
cabler — cable network or cable system operator; “Cablers were up in arms over Rupert Murdoch’s plans to launch a satellite channel.”
CAS — Cinema Audio Society.
CDG — Costume Designers Guild.
certs — recorded music album and single sales certifications issued by the Recording Industry Assn. of America; gold albums signify sales upwards of 500,000 copies, platinum is at least 1,000,000 copies. “In the latest round of certs, LeAnn Rimes’ ‘Blue’ went platinum.”
chantoosie — female singer (chanteuse); “Chantoosie Barbra Streisand has a warm and sharp set of pipes.” (See also, thrush)
Chi (also Chitown) — Chicago; “The Goodman Theatre in Chi has spawned a number of today’s more accomplished actors.”
chirp — to sing; “Cybill Shepherd chirped a few showtunes during her new nightclub act.”
Cincy — Cincinnati; “The touring ‘Phantom of the Opera’ company did strong biz in Cincy before moving to Chi.”
cleffer — a songwriter; “Jay Livingston was the cleffer on many Bob Hope films.” (See also, tunesmith)
click — a hit; ” Disney click ‘The Lion King’ is slated to air on ABC this season.”
cliffhanger — a melodramatic adventure or suspense film or TV show; usually a serial with a to-be-continued ending; “The ‘Who Shot J.R.?’ episode of ‘Dallas’ is one of the most famous cliffhangers of all time.”
coin — money, financing; “Coin for the production was raised through pre-sales to foreign territories.”
Col (also Colpix) — Columbia Pictures; “Alan Smithee had a three-pic deal at Col before he inked with Paramount.”
commish — commissioner, commission; “The director lauded the local film commish for helping find locations.”
competish — competition; ” ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ outdistanced the competish at the weekend B.O.”
confab — convention or professional gathering; “TV programming execs gather annually at the NATPE confab.”
conglom — conglomerate; “Miramax was a privately owned company until it was acquired by the Disney conglom.”
corny — A term in common usage meaning sentimental, obvious or old-fashioned, out of it; “Critics dismissed Bob Hope’s last special as corny and stale.”
crix — critics; “While the director’s last film was a flop with auds, the crix were in his corner.”
d.p. — director of photography; “Alan Smithee was d.p. on the helmer’s last two projects.”
deejay (also d.j.) — Commonly used term originally coined by Variety meaning disc jockey; “The station is changing its drivetime deejay.”
DGA — Directors Guild of America, the union of film and TV directors, assistant directors and unit production managers.
diskery — record company; “The artist signed a five-album deal with the diskery last year.”
distrib — distributor; “Paramount is the distrib on the project, which will begin lensing in May.”
distribbery — distribution company; “Two former studio execs are forming a new distribbery based in New York.”
doc, docu — documentary; “The new Neil Young doc has scored well with the critics.”
dramedy — A TV show that could be labeled both a comedy and a drama, usually an hour long. Also, a film or theater show that could be labeled as either — or perhaps fails at both; “Fox Family Channel series ‘State of Grace,’ a single-camera dramedy about two 12-year-old girls growing up in ’60s North Carolina, targets the underserved female tweens demographic with hope of generating a tag-along parental audience.”
ducats — tickets; “Scalpers were selling Rolling Stones ducats for as much as $500 apiece.”
emcee — master of ceremonies; “Billy Crystal is being courted to emcee the Oscars again.”
exec, exex — executive, executives; “Fox execs declined to comment about the recent shakeup.”
exhib — exhibitor (movie theater owner); “Warner Bros. execs trimmed a half-hour from the picture after exhibs complained about the long running time.”
Eye web — the CBS television network; “The Eye web ranked third place in the most recent Nielsen ratings.”
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f/x — special visual effects; “The film with have a big budget owing mainly to extensive f/x requirements.”
fave — favorite; “Johnny Carson was a longtime fave with latenight auds.”
feature — motion picture over an hour in length; “The director helmed TV commercials before getting into features.”
feevee — pay TV; “The film will play feevee before going to the broadcast webs.”
fest — film or TV festival; “Alan Smithee’s new film will bow at the fest.”
first-look — a deal wherein a particular studio has the first option on a filmmaker’s projects; “Alan Smithee has a first-look deal with Par.”
flop (also floppola) — failure at the box office; ” ‘Heaven’s Gate’ and ‘Ishtar’ were two of the biggest flops of the 1980s.”
four-wall — a theater rental contract where the producer assumes responsibility for all of the expenses of a show and gets all of the revenue, especially used in Las Vegas; “Many hotels are no longer willing to financially back their production shows, so four-wall deals are becoming commonplace.” (See also, two-wall)
Frog web — the WB television network, named for its mascot, a dancing frog from a Looney Tunes cartoon. “The Frog features all the hottest new shows, like ‘Gilmore Girls.'”
FYC — for your consideration; “It used to be that studios would take out ads for just about anyone who had ever made a hit movie for them — or had FYC guarantees written into their deal memos.”
Gotham — New York City; “Film production in Gotham has been on the rise for the past several years.”
green lit — Industry term: Process that follows after a script has been developed and moves into production
greenlight — the go-ahead for a film to be made; “The Bruce Willis project was given the greenlight last week.”
(the) Hub — Boston, Massachusetts; “The production tired out in the Hub before moving to Broadway.” (See also: Beantown)
H’w’d, H’wood — Hollywood; “France B.O. goes H’w’d”
hardtop — indoor movie theater; “The film is playing in Tampa at seven hardtops and two ozoners.” (See also: ozoner, passion pit)
headliner — the top act or performer on a vaudeville or revue bill; “Judy Garland was the headliner at the Palace on three occasions.”
helm — (v.) to direct a film or TV program; helmer(n.) a director; “Alan Smithee is the DGA-approved pseudonym for a helmer who wants to remove his or her name from the project.”
HFPA — Hollywood Foreign Press Association (They present the Golden Globes.)
hike — to increase, raise or promote; “CBS enjoyed a ratings hike Saturday night” or “Alan Smithee has been hiked to marketing VP at Par.”
history play — Industry term: Play dealing with a historical subject
hold over — Industry term: When a director decides to use an actor for an extra day not originally scheduled
hoofer — dancer; “Mary Tyler Moore was a hoofer before she got into acting.”
horse opera — Western film; “John Carradine appeared in a numerous horse operas throughout his career.”
hotsy — strong performance at the box office; “The Devil’s Advocate” made a hotsy bow last weekend.”
HQ — headquarters; “The meeting was held at the network’s HQ in New York.”
huddle — (v.) to have a meeting; (n.) a meeting; “CBS execs plan to huddle with their affiliates in May” or “The exec was in a huddle and was not available for comment.”
HUT — Homes Using Television, a common television industry term for households watching TV; “HUT levels are traditionally down during the summer.”
hype — manufactured promotional buzz; hyperbole; “The picture did not live up to the hype surrounding its bow.”
hypo — to increase or boost; “Producers are offering discounted tickets to hypo the show’s word of mouth.”
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IATSE — International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (union) (also referred to as just the IA); “Producers and IATSE reps are planning to meet on the issue.”
icer — ice show; “The arena has presented a variety of icers over the years.”
IFP — Independent Feature Project.
IMA — Institue for the Musical Arts.
impresario — Industry term: Entertainment entrepreneur
in the can — Industry term: Phrase meaning the director has the take he wants
in-the-round — Industry term: A theater in which the audience is seated on all four sides of a central stage.
indie — independent film, filmmaker, producer or TV station; “The new film festival will showcase indies.”
infopike — information superhighway (Internet); “The studio has formed a new division to develop projects for the infopike.”
ink — to sign a contract; “Alan Smithee inked a deal to produce and star in three pics for U.”
insert — Industry term: Pick-up where a short segment of script is reread from one point to another
INTV — Association of Independent Television Stations; “The INTV is watching network ownership of syndicated programming very closely.”
Italo — Italian; ” ‘Fireworks’ is a big click at the Italo B.O.”
kidvid — children’s television; “New legislation in being considered that would increase the number of hours broadcasters devote to kidvid.”
Kiwi — New Zealander; “Kiwi director Jane Campion is in talks to helm the project.”
kudocast — Variety term for an awards show; “The Academy Awards is typically the highest-rated kudocast of the year.”
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(the) Lion (also Leo) — Variety-ese for Metro-Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) Studios, so referred to because of the company’s legendary “Leo the Lion” logo; “A spokesman for the Lion declined to comment on the deal.”
LAFCA — Los Angeles Film Critics Association.
laugh track — Industry term: Audience laughter that is recorded to be played back when a TV show is aired
legit — legitimate (live) theater. The term seeks to differentiate serious theater (think Shakespeare, think O’Neill) from vaudeville or burlesque; “Choreographer Michael Kidd distinguished himself in legit before working in pictures.”
legs — stamina at the box office; “The film opened big but rival distribs are dubious about its legs.”
lense — to film a motion picture; “The project will lense in Rome and New York.”
longform, long-form — TV programming that is longer than an hour in duration; a TV movie or miniseries; “The company specializes in longform production.”
made-for — a TV movie (made-for-television movie); “The producer has three feature films and two made-fors on his slate.” (See also, telepic)
MAHG/MUAHS — Make-up and Hair Stylists Guild.
major — one of the eight major film studios (Disney, MGM, Paramount, Sony, 20th Century Fox, Dreamworks, Universal, Warner Brothers).
megaplex — a movie theater with more than 16 screens; “Cineplex Odeon’s Universal City megaplex has 18 screens.” (See also: multiplex)
meller — melodrama; “The company is in pre-production on a meller about a blind woman held hostage on a New York City subway.”
mini — A television miniseries; “John Adams mini is planned to span between 10 and 13 episodes.”
mini-major — Big film production companies that are supposedly smaller than the majors although such companies as Miramax, Polygram and New Line compete directly with the big studios; “The producers are in talks with several studios, including the mini-major New Line.”
mitting — applause; “Bob Dylan’s surprise appearance at the benefit provoked heavy mitting from the crowd.”
mogul — the head of a major studio or communications company; from the title of the all-powerful emperors of India; “Media moguls Rupert Murdoch and Ted Turner have engaged in some heated verbal sparring of late.”
moppet — child, especially child actor; “Elizabeth Taylor is one of the few moppets who made the transition to adult star.”
Mouse (also Mouse House) — the Walt Disney Co. or any division thereof, a reference to the company’s most famous animated character, Mickey Mouse; “The Mouse’s music division is reuniting with talent manager Alan Smithee on a joint-venture label.”
MOW — Not a Variety creation, this stands for movie of the week; “Cable tries MOW wow”
MPA — Motion Picture Association (international arm of Motion Picture Association of America, MPAA, representing the interests of the Hollywood studios abroad); “The MPA regularly conducts raids on vid pirates around the world.”
MPAA — Motion Picture Association of America (represents the interests of the major motion picture studios); “The MPAA initiated its ratings system for motion pictures in 1968.”
MPSE — Motion Picture Sound Editors.
MSO — multisystem cable operator, the powerful companies that own large local cable operations; “Tele-Communications Inc.and other large MSOs have signed on to carry the new cable channel.”
multiplex — A movie theater comprising more than two screens but less than 16; “AMC is planning to build four new multiplexes — an eight-screener and three 12-plexes ï in the Dallas area next year.” (See also: megaplex)
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n.s.g. — not so good; “While the film opened well, the outlook for long-term B.O. is n.s.g.”
NAACP — National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
nabe — a neighborhood theater; “The film has had a long midnight run at the Vista, a Los Angeles nabe.”
NABET — National Association of Broadcast Engineers & Technicians (union); “The webs are due to begin new contract talks with NABET in February.”
narrowcast — network or programming aimed at a specialized audience; the opposite of a broadcast; “Speedvision, which narrowcasts automobile programming, is carried by most Media One systems.”
NBR — National Board of Review.
net — network; “Many ABC stations were concerned about the viability of the net’s fall schedule.” (See also: Web)
netlet — fledgling networks UPN and the WB; any network with less than a full weekly schedule of programming; “With the advent of cable and the netlets, the Big Three networks have seen their audience share erode.” (See also, weblet)
niche programming — TV programming or channels targeting particular demographics or interests; “The History Channel offers niche programming aimed at history buffs.”
nitery — a nightclub; “Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick recently reunited for a nitery gig in New York.”
nix — reject, say no to; as in the famous Variety headline “Sticks Nix Hick Pix,” meaning that audiences in rural areas were not interested in attending films about rural life.
NSFC — National Society of Film Critics.
nut — operating expenses to be recovered; “On Broadway, most shows need to operate at 60% of audience capacity to cover their nuts.”
NYFCC — New York Film Critics Circle.
NYFCO — New York Film Critics Online.
(the) o.o. — the once-over; to examine something; “Sylvester Stallone gave the script the o.o. before passing on it.”
chopsocky — a martial arts film; “Chopsocky star Chuck Norris will make a guest appearance on ‘Seinfeld’ this season.”
O&O — Network-owned and -operated TV stations; “KABC is the Alphabet web’s O&O in Los Angeles.”
o.t.t. — over the top; “An o.t.t. performance by newcomer Alan Smithee marred the otherwise riveting film.”
oater — Western film, referring to the preferred meal of horses; “The Golden Boot Awards are presented annually in recognition of the work of oater stars.”
OFCS — Online Film Critics Society.
off-net — network TV series repeats sold into syndication; ” ‘Seinfeld’ is currently enjoying big success in its off-net run.”
one-hander — a play or movie with one character; “One-hander ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ is one of the defining films for children of the ’70s.” (See also, two-hander)
Oz — Australia; “The film has performed well in Oz and New Zealand.” (See also: Aussie)
ozoner — drive-in movie theater; “The few ozoners that remain operational in the U.S. are in most cases doing double-duty as flea markets.” (See also: hardtop, passion pit)
spec(s) (also spex) — TV special(s); “The company specializes in awards shows and other specs.”
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P&A — prints and advertising, the often-sizable expense that goes on a film’s financial ledger after production is complete; “The film’s budget has soared past $65 million, and P&A costs may add another $30 million.”
p.a. — personal appearance; “Harrison Ford will make a p.a. at the premiere to promote the pic.”
pact — (n.) a contract; (v.) to sign a contract; “The new pact calls for 6% pay raises across the board” or “The actress is expected to pact with the studio by the end of the week.”
Par — Paramount; “The director maintains offices on the Par lot.”
passion pit — drive-in theater, so called owing to their privacy factor and romantic allure for teenagers; “The pic is playing at two passion pits in Miami.” (See also: ozoner)
payola — bribery or under-the-table payments; “The proliferation of payola rocked the music industry in the 1950s.”
Peacock web — the NBC television network, named for its colorful mascot; “Must-See TV has been a highly successful promotional campaign for the Peacock web.”
pen — (v.) to write; “Alan Smithee has been inked to pen the biopic about Abraham Lincoln.”
percenter (also tenpercenter) — agent; “Mike Ovitz was a percenter before becoming a talent manager.”
percentery (also tenpercentery) — talent agency; “The director’s previous percentery was the William Morris Agency.”
perf — performance; “Martin Landau was much lauded for his perf in ‘Ed Wood.'”
PGA — Producers Guild of America.
pic(s) (also pix) — motion picture(s); “The studio plans to release four pics this summer.”
pinkslip — to lay off or fire from a job; “The company pinkslipped 60 staffers in its New York office Monday.”
pitch — Not a Variety creation, anything from a one-line description to a two- to three-page treatment of an idea, and as such, is not yet a script, nor is it a “spec;” “Felines of Death — “It’s ‘JAWS’ with paws!”
plex — multiplex theater or cable channel; “The company plans to build three plexes comprising 30 screens in the Dallas area” or “HBO has plexed its programming for the convenience of subscribers.”
post-production — stage at which editing, scoring and effects are executed on a motion picture or TV production; “Post-production on ‘Titanic’ was escalated to meet the release date.”
pour — cocktail party; “Universal held a pour for the press in New York to promote its upcoming release.”
powwow — a meeting or gathering; “NBC held a powwow with its affiliates last month.”
PPV — pay-per-view; “The fight will be presented as a PPV event in the spring.”
PR (also p.r.) — public relations
praiser — publicist; “A praiser for the star had no comment on the deal.”
praisery — public relations firm; “The studio is retaining an outside praisery to augment its p.r. chores on the film.”
pre-production — stage at which a motion picture or TV project is prepared to go into production; “The pic has been greenlighted and goes into pre-production Monday.”
pre-sales — Territorial sales of planned motion pictures to distributors worldwide; usually conducted to raise funding for lower budget, independent pictures; “The producers conducted pre-sales to Australia, the U.K. and the Far East at the recent film market.”
preem — (n.) an opening-night or premiere performance; (v.) to show a completed film for the first time; “Several of the pic’s stars were on hand for the preem” or “The pic will preem Dec. 18.”
prep — to prepare; “The studio is prepping for the premiere of its new pic.”
prexy (also prez) — president; “The studio has no plans to fill the prexy post in the wake of the exec’s resignation.”
product — completed film or TV productions; “TV series usually are not sold into syndication until the producers have at least three years’ worth of product.”
production — Industry term: This involves building sets, designing costumes, measuring and fitting actors for costumes, and rehearsals.
promo — sales promotion; “The pic has promo tie-ins with Burger King and Nike.”
pubcaster — government-owned broadcaster; “The PBS exec declined to comment on the pubcaster’s plans for fall.”
put pilot — A deal to produce a pilot that includes substantial penalties if the pilot is not aired; a virtual guarantee that a pilot will be picked up; “CBS is getting back into business with Jerry Bruckheimer, inking a blind put pilot deal with the mega-producer.”
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R&B — rhythm and blues; “R&B influences are clearly evident in the performer’s work.”
reissue (also re-release) — a film released again by a studio after its initial release; “The reissue of ‘Star Wars’ catapulted the pic back to the top of Variety’s All-Time Rental Champs chart.”
rentals — portion of film grosses that goes to film distributors; also refers to videocassette rentals; “The film has returned over $60 million in rentals to the studio” or “Video retailers report rentals on the title have been strong.”
rep — (n.) a representative; (v.) to represent; “A rep for the actress had no comment on the deal” or “The actress is repped by the William Morris Agency.”
retro — retrospective; “The film festival is unspooling a retro of Julie Andrews films.”
reup — to renew an employment contract; “The exec is not expected to reup when his contract expires in June.”
RIAA — Recording Industry Association of America; “The RIAA certifies the sales of compact disks and cassettes.”
Alphabet web — the ABC television network; “The Alphabet web came in second in last week’s Nielsens race.”
SAG — the Screen Actors Guild, the union for film and TV actors.
scatter — the TV network commercial time left over after upfront (before season) sales are made; “The network source said scatter sales have been so-so to this point.”
scribbler — writer; “Neil Simon was a TV scribbler before becoming a playwright.” Also “scribe.”
scripter — screenwriter; “Joe Eszterhaus was the scripter on the project.” Also “scribe.”
SDMM — Set Designers and Model-Makers Union.
SDSA — Set Directors’ Society of America.
seg — segment or episode of a TV series; ” ‘ER’ made its season debut with a live seg.”
sell-through — prerecorded videocassettes priced lower to be sold rather than rented; “The next batch of Disney releases will be priced for sell-through.”
sellout — sold-out performance; “The U2 tour was a sellout the day tickets went on sale.”
sesh — session or meeting; also a time frame, such as a weekend; “The convention will hold a sesh on film financing Tuesday afternoon” or “The film was down 36% at the B.O. this sesh.”
sex appeal — a term coined by Variety now in common usage meaning to be attractive to audiences owing to sexual aura; “Jean Harlow’s sex appeal put the picture over.”
shingle — A small business, often set up by an actor or established player at a larger company; “Tom Green has launched production shingle Bob Green Films.”
showbiz — show business; “The annual Oscar ceremony is one of the biggest events on the showbiz calendar.”
showrunner — executive producer of a television series.
shutter — to close a legitimate play or musical; “Moose Murders” shuttered on Broadway the night it opened.”
sideman — A member of a band or a session musician; “Virtually every member of the ‘Tonight Show’ bands — from Conte Candoli to Kevin Eubanks — has had his fair share of local gigs as a leader and sideman.”
sitcom — a term now in common usage originally coined by Variety, shorthand for situation comedy TV series; “A new Tom Selleck sitcom is in the works.”
sked — schedule; “Alan Smithee’s new sitcom is expected to be added to NBC’s fall sked.”
skein — a TV series; “It is not known whether ABC will renew the skein for next season.”
sleeper — a film or TV show that lacks pre-release buzz or critical praise, but turns into a success after it is released, usually due to good word-of-mouth, “Sixth Sense was the surprise sleeper of the summer of 1999.”
soap opera — radio (now TV) serial originally sponsored by soap companies; “The networks still rely heavily on soap operas to anchor their daytime schedules.” (See also sudser)
sock (also socko) — very good (usually refers to box office performance); ” ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’ has done socko B.O.” (See also, boff, whammo)
solon — an authority; someone in the know; from the ancient Greek wise man, Solon; “Solons say the deal is likely to go down by the end of the week.”
spec script — a script shopped or sold on the open market, as opposed to one commissioned by a studio or production company; “Alan Smithee sold a spec script to Fox for a mid-six against high-six-figure sum.”
spesh — a television special; “HBO has pacted with Britney Spears to do a live concert spesh.”
sprocket opera — film festival; “The actor plans to attend the annual Sundance sprocket opera next year.”
SRO — standing room only; a sold out show; ” ‘Rent’ has been SRO since it opened on Broadway.”
STCPDS — Story, trailer, cast, production notes, downloads and stills — the basics of every movie Web site ever; “MGM’s Goodboy! Web site offers the standard STCPDS.”
strip — a five- or six-day-per-week TV series, usually in syndication; “Roseanne will return to TV in a talkshow strip next fall.”
sudser — soap opera; “Sudser star Susan Lucci was nominated for an Emmy again this year.”
suspenser — suspense film; “The studio is planning a remake of the Audrey Hepburn suspenser ‘Wait Until Dark.’ ”
syndie — syndicated television programming, those sold to stations, rather than provided by one of the networks or netlets; ” ‘Xena: Warrior Princess’ was at the top of the syndie ratings last week.”
30-mile zone — Within a union-defined 30-mile radius (often measured from the Beverly Center in West Hollywood), a production company can shoot without paying travel expenses or a per-diem. Not coined by Variety.
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tabmag — tabloid-style TV magazine show, e.g., “Hard Copy”; “George Clooney has come down hard on the tabmags over the past year.”
tap — to select or name; “Alan Smithee has been tapped senior VP of production for Warner Bros.”
telefilm (also telepic, telepix) — feature-length motion picture made for TV; “CBS’ Cicely Tyson telefilm did well in the overnight ratings.” (See also, made-for)
tentpole — Movie expected by a studio to be its biggest grossing blockbuster of the season, usually summer. Often the pic is the start of, or an installment in, a franchise; “”Armageddon” was a successful tentpole in 1998.”
terp — to dance (as in Terpsichore); “Suzanne Sommers’ nitery act consists of some singing and a little terping.”
terper — dancer; “John Travolta was a terper on Broadway early in his career.”
theatrical — feature-length motion picture; “The actress has plans to make a theatrical while her TV series is on hiatus.”
thrush — female singer; “The cabaret scene in New York is dominated by thrushes Barbara Cook and Julie Wilson.” (See also, chantoosie)
title role — Not a Variety creation, the lead part in a movie or other production for an actor that is named after the title of the film; Angelina Jolie was played the title role in “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.”
tix — tickets; “Tix for the new musical are priced at a $75 top.”
toon — cartoon; “CBS has ordered a toon version of ‘Men in Black’ for its Saturday-morning schedule.”
topline — to star; to be billed above the title of a show or film; “Julia Roberts will topline the director’s next pic.”
topliner — a star of a particular show or film; “Harrison Ford is the topliner of ‘Air Force One.'”
topper — the head of a company or organization; “The company topper was unavailable for comment.”
tubthump — to promote or draw attention to; from the ancient show business custom of actors wandering the streets banging on tubs to drum up business; “Disney is planning a big parade to tubthump the opening of its new release.”
tuner — a legitimate musical; “David Merrick produced numerous Broadway tuners.”
tunesmith — songwriter; “Tunesmith Burt Bacharach will be given a special award at the ceremony.” (See also, cleffer)
turnaround — no longer active; a project put into “turnaround” has been abandoned by one studio and may be shopped to another.
two-hander — a play or movie with two characters; ” ‘Love Letters’ has been one of the most popular two-handers of the ’90s.” (See also: one-hander)
two-wall — a theater rental contract where the host property and artist share expenses and share revenue, expecting to recoup from the success of the show; (See also, four-wall)
twofers — coupons that discount admission price to “two for” the price of one; “The play has been on twofers for the past three months.”
tyro — in general, someone new to a field or activity; in Variety, a first-time director, writer, etc.; “Written by tyro scribes Dan Wilson and David Gilbreth, pic is the story of two genius brothers.”
U — Universal Pictures (compare to U., which refers to a university); “Barry Diller has just finalized a deal to acquire U’s TV operations.”
unspool — to screen a film; “More than 30 films are set to unspool at the upcoming festival.”
upfront — commercial time sold in advance of the TV season; “A CBS source said the upfront market has been unusually strong this year.” (See also, scatter)
veep (also veepee, VP) — vice president; “Alan Smithee has been named marketing veep at TriStar.”
VES — Visual Effects Society.
vid — video; “The film will not go to vid until it completes its overseas theatrical runs.”
VOD — video on demand; “Home Shopping Network has been developing a VOD division that will allow customers to order specific programming.”
voiceover — offscreen narration; “Tom Bosley provided voiceover for the animated production.”
warble — to sing; “Margaret Whiting warbled a pair of tunes at Tuesday night’s fundraiser.”
warbler — singer; “Under its new policy, the nitery has booked a string of warblers.”
web — network; “The webs have instituted a policy of rating their own programming.” (See also, net)
weblet — fledgling networks UPN and the WB; any network with less than a full weekly schedule of programming; “The weblets are making inroads in the weekly ratings race.” (See also, netlet)
WGA — Writers Guild of America.
whammo — a sensation (bigger than boffo); ” ‘Men in Black’ has done whammo biz internationally.” (See also, boffo, socko)
whodunit — a mystery film (or show); “The director’s next project will be a whodunit for Warner Bros.”
wicket — box office (usually foreign); “Queues are forming at the wickets for the new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.”
wrap — to finish production; “The picture will wrap in the next two weeks.”