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Current Updates | 'This is sad and frustrating' 10/16/01 | New focus, new tone for Joan 10/1/01 | Cusack's learning curve 10/1/01 | 'Joan' Is Her Comfort Zone 10/2/01 | *Cusack bucks odds with 'Joan' 7/26/01 | *WAJ Zap-IT 8/6/01 | Hey, what's not to like about Joan? | From the Seattle Times | GET A GRIP, JOANIE | 'What About Joan': A Bouquet of Neuroses | CHICAGO STYLE GAL | Name That Show, Part II | Joan Cusack's WHAT ABOUT JOAN To Premiere On ABC (3/27/01) | BECAUSE SHE'S WORTH IT | WAITING IN QUEUE FOR CUSACK | CUSACK PUTS CHICAGO ON THE LAUGH TRACK | The Joan Cusack Show
Name That Show, Part II

BY PHIL ROSENTHAL
TELEVISION CRITIC

February 20, 2001

It's apparently a lot harder to name a TV show than one might think. That's the upshot of our "Name That Show" request for suggestions of what to name Joan Cusack's new Chicago-based sitcom. With the debut only five weeks away from tonight, ABC has been floating the empty balloon "What About Joan" as a title on its Web site, but no official word has come. "Joan," "Cusack" and "The Joan Cusack Show," supposedly were dismissed because of how similarly titled star vehicles for Bette Midler, Michael Richards, Geena Davis and Steven Weber struggled this season. Producers flirted with "Sweet Home, Chicago," if only because they could appropriate the song, but it didn't quite convey the series. Whatever they call it, this sitcom about relationships--based on the work of Evanston essayist Gwen Macsai (Lipshtick)--stars Cusack as a high school teacher named Joan Gallagher. Her boyfriend, Jake, is played by "Early Edition" alum Kyle Chandler. Our call for titles got hundreds of responses from readers aged 11 to 93 and from all around the country. One was postmarked in Jakarta, Indonesia. A guy with time on his hands sent in more than 200 title suggestions. Not one, but two readers, took the occasion of this contest to criticize how Joan and other members of the Cusack family pronounce the word "Chicago." A few were actors looking for work on the series. Way too many entries just nicked the headline of my original column--"Because She's Worth It"--or some awkward phrase from the text, such as "Flyover Country," "Imperfect Intimacies" or, most popular of all, "Friends and Lovers." But because "Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers" already was the name of a short-lived 1974-75 comedy from James L. Brooks, who happens to also be an executive producer of the Cusack show, we'll figure that's not really a option. "Trying to name a sitcom I have never seen struck me as a Dada-esque pursuit, but I decided to give it a shot nonetheless," wrote reader William T. Garver of DeKalb, who suggested "My Kind of Town." "Why not call it `The Joan Cusack Show.' I know this isn't very original or exciting, but it is simple and tells people exactly what they're getting. Most people don't have the time or inclination to seek out a particular show. You've got to make it easy for them to find you." That said, here are some of your suggestions . . .

*** NOW WHERE WERE WE?

"Joan in Chicago" B. Diaz, Chicago
"In the Loop" Dian R. Voigt, Chicago
"Chicago Lessons" Lismarie Donoghue, Chicago
"Chicago High" Pam Grimes, Oak Park
"Chic-a-Go" N. Jayne Hasselroth, Batavia
"Homeroom Chicago" Patti Neri, Melrose Park
"The Windy City" Karen De Bias, Carpentersville
"Windy City Whimsy" Mike Oakes, Chicago
"Life in the Windy City" Kimberly Scanlon, Des Plaines
"Living in Chicago" Karen Ann Morabito, Chicago
"Love, Chicago Style" Lucille and Linda Hodorowicz
"Relationships, Chicago Style" Carol Allaway, Karen Nelson and Chris Kozerski, Chicago
"Chi-town" Larry Gillreath, Arlington Heights
"Shy Town" Jim Demetris, Lansing
"Lake Shore Drive" Barry Stark, West Chicago
"The View From Lakeview" Barbara Bernacchi, Chicago
"Along the Lake" M.A. O'Rourke, Chicago
"Joan on the Lake" Dina Facklis, Chicago
"Lake Effect Show" Mary Karlson, Chicago
"The Third Coast" David Lunnar, Hollywood, Calif.

***ANOTHER TRAIN OF THOUGHT

"Chicago on Track" Ermalene R. Smith, Chicago
"The Red Line" Laurie Hottinger, Chicago
"The Blue Line" Guido Pozo, Chicago
"Life Between L's" Sharon Hill, Findlay, Ohio

*** STARRING JOAN CUSACK

"All That Joan" Angela Soriano, Chicago
"Welcome Back Cusack" David Kreiman, Glenview
"Cusack Central" Elaine Thigpen, Chicago
"JC" Linda Fisher, Mount Prospect
"Chicago's Own Joan" Carole J. Peterson, Crestwood
"The Wacky World of Joanie" Angie Vanaria, Chicago
"Joanie's World" Karen Cole, Chicago
"Life in Joan's World" Nancy Meeks, Lombard
"For the Love of Joan" Jan Johnson, Channahon
"The Joan Zone" Mike Poch, Chicago
"Darling Joan" Catherine Barozyk, Harwood Heights
"I Love Joan" Chris Huston, Karen Gerbig, Chicago
"Just Joan!" Christine Krupa, Chicago
"Joan Who?!?" V.J. Shigihara, Chicago
"Oh Joan" Mary Norowski, Chicago
"Joan & Company" Joseph Lang, New Lenox
"Cusack and Friends" Marilyn Campbell, Chicago
"Love Joan" Valerie B. Lufrano, Chicago
"Joan's Jones" Brett Terbush, Elmhurst
"Joan!" Richard Tanis, Glenview
"The Joan Show" Raymond Torres, Chicago
"That Dere Joan" Frank Bonilla, Riverside
"Joan, Joan, Joan" Charles Chamberlin, Lansing

*** DID WE MENTION SHE WAS A TEACHER?

"Class Mates" James Dunlop, Oak Park
"Class Act" Donald Pierini, Prospect Heights
"Class of Her Own" Sharon Hardey, North Aurora
"In a Class by Herself" Adrianne Thomas Hayward, Evanston
"Don't Forget Your Homework" Richard Kerr, Chicago
"Homework" M. Burke, Watervliet, N.Y.
"Educatin' Joan" Dolores Noworolnik, Chicago
"School Days" Nancy L. Florian, West Chicago
"School Daze" Irv Yormark, Chicago
"School's Out" Ruby Stephens, Chicago
"Lesson Plans" Bonnie Dickel Hoffman, Golden Valley, Minn.
"Live & Learn" Jean Lachat, Chicago
"Faculties" Monica Erb, Joliet
"Teachers' Lounge" Marilyn Mellin, Chicago
"Teacher's Pet" Roger B. Wilson, Des Plaines
"Teachers Don't Pet" Eric Stigler, Skokie

*** SOUNDS FAMILIAR

"Cooler by the Lake" James Reyes, Chicago
"That's Life" Nadine Robin, Homewood
"Get a Life" Kathleen Skinner, Wayne
"Say Everything" S. Daniels, Chicago
"Our Miss Joan" Alan Wulff, Wheaton
"Joan's Addiction" Sonja Tudor, Calumet City
"Is That Your Final Answer?" Ramona Giambalvo, Chicago

*** SAME OLD SONGS

"Sweet Joan, Chicago" Jane Lambric, Chicago
"Love Is All Around" Ken Gordon, Mount Prospect
"Everyone Knows It's Windy" Joyce Ryband, Chicago

*** IT TAKES CHARACTER

"Double Take: Joan & Jake" June Packer, Chicago
"Gallagher" Patti Duboe, Buffalo Grove
"Gallagher Rules" Susan Orich, Lansing

*** ORIGINAL TO A FAULT

"Wild Onion" Jerry Liliedahl, Evanston
"Q" Texie Washington, Chicago
"A to Q-Z" Ruth Ann De Marchis, Carol Stream
"Idiot Box Anonymous" Joyce Dunn, Chicago
"Mid Electric West" George W. Cross, Chicago
"Joan & Kyle @Chicago.Com-edy" Adeline G. Zivin, Chicago
"Cusack's Sizzling Chicago Tales" Arthur J. Hernandez, Chicago

*** NICE TRY

"The Sam Wilson Show" Sam Wilson, Chicago