HBO has, with great imagination and originality, changed the title of Aaron Sorkin’s upcoming show from “Newsroom” to “The Newsroom.” The announcement of the new title already has some fun comments pointing out the existence of another show called “The Newsroom” that somebody at the network, if not necessarily Aaron Sorkin, might have heard of.
No, this isn’t a serious affront to our own “The Newsroom.” And it doesn’t violate any rules either. (Titles aren’t under copyright.) It’s just a bit of a grimly amusing reminder that the U.S. TV industry doesn’t take Canada very seriously (and doesn’t need to). If a Canadian network wanted to make a show called “The Wire,” there would be nothing stopping them – a generic or baldly descriptive title like that doesn’t usually raise any trademark problems. But we wouldn’t call a show “The Wire” because it would create unflattering comparisons with a show that is often considered the greatest the U.S. has ever produced. Well, “The Newsroom” is often considered the greatest show Canada has ever produced, but a U.S. network feels no need to fear unflattering comparisons: assuming they’ve heard of the show, they probably think most people in the States have not heard of it.
Again, this is not a serious complaint; it’s only a title. And the test of a show is not whether it’s taken seriously in the States, but whether it’s taken seriously in its home country – meaning, “The Newsroom” is good whether or not Americans have heard of it. It’s just that I kind of thought our best export might be at least somewhat famous enough in the U.S. to scare off a new show from attaching the same title to a similar subject; I guess not, so expect to see new American shows called “Slings and Arrows” and, of course, “Kids In the Hall,” about a bunch of kids who hang out in a school hall a lot. That one is a natural for the revamped MTV.