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188/365 – 30 Ridiculous “Slanguage” Terms Used in Variety

Variety.  The Hollywood Reporter.  The trades, as we call them, are an essential part of working and surviving in Hollywood.  The whole industry is built on the idea that it will always be fluid, always be changing and those who can follow those changes and predict their twists and turns can and will be successful.  Variety is supposed to help us predict those changes.  

Hollywood is strange enough without having it’s own distinct language.  I’m not talking about Spanish.  I’m talking about the slanguage that Variety incorporates into their journalism.   While I was in LA, I had to read the trades everyday and it took me awhile to figure out what Variety was trying to  tell me.  They use so much slang it’s hard to tell what they are communicating. 

It’s a way to make the concept of knowing what’s going on in Hollywood a secret.  Something that you need to work at in order to understand.  In other words, it’s completely unnecessary and ridiculous.  Slang terms are usually used as shorthand — as way of getting the idea across in a more brief way.

Half the time, in Variety, once you learn this extensive dictionary of slang, you find yourself saying the same thing over and over, “You mean you replaced the word {blank} with {blank blank blankity blank}?  That seems to defeat the point.”  The other half of the time, you’re laughing because the terms are just so damn ridiculous.  

I’ve included 30 of my favorites from Variety’s own dictionary. . . . in alphabetical order!  What’s great about the definitions is they include other slang terms that force you to keep looking things up . . .

1) ankle

WHAT YOU THINK IT COULD BE: Refers to an actress or actor who’s face is too ugly for modeling but their individual body parts are pretty enough to model clothing and jewelry.  “Nicole Ritchie has been hired as an ankle for K-Swiss shoes.”

WHAT IT IS: 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.”

I love that this is a “classic and enduring” term.  Because no one in Hollywood will ever admit to being fired . . .ever.

2) ayem 

WHAT YOU THINK IT IS: Originally the ancient god of celluloid that was worshipped by a cult that originated in Thomas Edison’s basement.  “Ayem did not look kindly on John Carter.  Not kindly at all.”  Today it refers to the “coughing” sound a producer makes when he wants his secretary to give him an excuse to cut short a bad meeting.  “After an hour with Michael Bay, the executive ayem’ed and his secretary said Steven Spielberg was on the line and needed to talk to him.” 

WHAT IT IS: A Variety coinage meaning morning (a.m.); “Barbara Walters is producing a new ayem skein for ABC.”  

Because writing “AM” is so much harder than “ayem.”

3) bird

WHAT YOU THINK IT IS: While often referred to as the “middle finger” or “a girl”, in Hollywood, this is a film or an action made specifically to piss off an enemy.  “Orson Wells made the bird, Citizen Kane, as a message to William Randolph Hearst.”

WHAT IS IS: A Variety term for satellite; “The proposed channel would be carried by an Asian bird to be launched next spring.”

I find it hilarious that this “bird” they use for the definition is an Asian one . . because in the spring, we’ll all be dead from the bird flu.  Also, birds can breathe in space.

4) chantoosie

WHAT YOU THINK IT IS: A lesser known railroad that ran parallel to the Chattanooga but stopped short and never went anywhere.  Refers to films that . . . go no where and have no plot.  “John Carter was one hell of a chantoosie.”

WHAT IT IS:  Female singer (chanteuse); “Chantoosie Barbra Streisand has a warm and sharp set of pipes.” (See also, thrush)

Also see “singer.”

5) Colpix

WHAT YOU THINK IT IS: Films made by the band Coldplay.  “We’re still waiting for the first Colpix to be greenlit . . . and we may be waiting for awhile.”

WHAT IT IS: Columbia Pictures; “Alan Smithee had a three-pic deal at Colpix before he inked with Paramount.”

Also sounds like a new water pick from Braun.

6) ducats

WHAT YOU THINK IT IS: A term referring to a film that has two starring cat roles.  “Garfield star, Garfield, almost signed on for a ducat but refused saying, ‘I’m a one cat show.'”

WHAT IT IS: Tickets; “Scalpers were selling Rolling Stones ducats for as much as $500 apiece.”

Again, because “Tickets” is way too hard to type.  Also, isn’t a ducat an ancient form of Italian money?  So The Rolling Stones had their own Italian money made?  Cool.

7) Eye web

WHAT YOU THINK IT IS: Those contact lenses that have webs on them — also refers to any contact lens that has some horror element to it.  “As part of her role for the film, Lots of Spiders and Blood and Stuff, Rene Zelwiger had to wear eye webs.”

WHAT IT IS:  The CBS television network; “The Eye web ranked third place in the most recent Nielsen ratings.”

Again and again and again — because writing CBS gives Variety writers arthritis.

8 ) Frog web

WHAT YOU THINK IT IS: A device used by film & TV animal wanglers to capture frogs for fairy tale features.  “Hollywood animal wranglers are selling frog webs at a discount since no one uses real frogs anymore.”

WHAT IT IS: 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.'”

Really?  Writing “WB” is that difficult.  This one is moot anyway as The WB is now the CW, or as Variety calls them, The Bastard Child of UPN and The Frog Web that’s Obsessed with Teenage Vampire Shows . . . you know, The CW.

9) Gotham

WHAT YOU THINK IT IS: Batman’s hometown.  “Michael Bay is still trying to find the mythical city of Gotham because he hears it has great tax incentives for films about explosions.”

WHAT IT IS: New York City; “Film production in Gotham has been on the rise for the past several years.”

If you’ve read my blog, you know that I usually write “NYC.”  But I’m learning my lesson because every time I write “NYC” it’s like smoking a pack of cigarettes.  I’ll be dead in no time.  Variety, you’re so smart . . . NYC –OUCH!

10) hardtop

WHAT YOU THINK IT IS: A term referring to films or TV shoes with ratings because young boys are only going for the one or two instances of side boob.  “Laura Croft: Tomb Raider is one hell of a hardtop.”

WHAT IT IS: Indoor movie theater; “The film is playing in Tampa at seven hardtops.”

I actually like this one.  I love taking girls to my favorite hardtop.

11) ozoner

WHAT YOU THINK IT IS: A horror film where most of the blood is considered O+.  “House of a 1000 Corpses would have been a great ozoner, but Rob Zombie just had to bring in some B+ blood.”

WHAT IT IS: Drive-in movie theater; “The few ozoners that remain operational in the U.S. are in most cases doing double-duty as flea markets.” 

Again, I like this one . . . because I hate telling my wife I’m going to get her birthday gift at a flea market.  “Honey, I hear the ozoner has a great selection of vintage necklaces.”

12) passion pit

WHAT YOU THINK IT IS: Description and nickname of the set for Eyes Wide Shut.  “The passion pit had to hire another janitor as the past three have been hired as extras.”

WHAT IT IS: 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)

Again, much better telling my wife I’m getting her birthday gift at The Passion Pit . . . actually, that sounds gross.  And sticky.  Or, as Variety has coined for things that are gross and sticky, Mickey Rourke.

13) horse opera

WHAT YOU THINK IT IS: Any musical starring Hillary Swank, Tori Spelling, etc . . .  “Broadway has hit gold with a new ducat idea, a Horse Opera staring Hillary Swank and Tori Spelling.”

WHAT IT IS: Western film; “John Carradine appeared in a numerous horse operas throughout his career.”

Western: seven letters.  Horse Opera: Ten, eleven with a space.  You decide.

14) infopike

WHAT YOU THINK IT IS: Originally spelled “infodyke” over the years it has changed to “infopike,” meaning, a lesbian with lots of opinions.  “Can we call Anne Heche an infopike anymore?”

WHAT IT IS: Information superhighway (Internet); “The studio has formed a new division to develop projects for the infopike.”

To Variety’s credit, when Al Gore created the Internet, this was his runner up name for it.

15) kudocast

WHAT YOU THINK IT IS: When a producer’s leg is broken by a shady film investor (the mob) as a “thank you” for doing a “great job” on a film.  “John Carter producer was given a kudocast from Joey Knuckles last Thursday.”

WHAT IT IS: Variety term for an awards show; “The Academy Awards is typically the highest-rated kudocast of the year.”

Mine is better.

16) Lion

WHAT YOU THINK IT IS: Any bearded film director.  “The lions gathered in the “lion’s den” to discuss how to fuck up another Indiana Jones movie.”

WHAT IT IS: 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.”

I think my definition works for their example just as well.

17) mitting

WHAT YOU THINK IT IS: When a screenwriter is trying to write a baseball film.  “Timmy Tamisiea is mitting a sequel to A League of Their Own called A Fatigue of Their Own.

WHAT IT IS: Applause; “Bob Dylan’s surprise appearance at the benefit provoked heavy mitting from the crowd.”

I get it . . . I just don’t like it.

18) moppet

WHAT YOU THINK IT IS: A cheap “muppet” made from a mop.  “Ex Henson employee barely surviving with Oklahoma City play starring three moppets.”

WHAT IT IS: Child, especially child actor; “Elizabeth Taylor is one of the few moppets who made the transition to adult star.”

This is pretty great.  Moppet sounds so much like a racist term against children actors.  I want to call everyone a moppet, moppet.

19) chopsocky

WHAT YOU THINK IT IS: Inedible Chinese food created for Chinese restaurant scenes made of old socks and other household throwaways.  “Jackie Chan was rushed to the hospital when he mistook the chopsocky for the craft food.”

WHAT IT IS: A martial arts film; “Chopsocky star Chuck Norris will make a guest appearance on ‘Seinfeld’ this season.”

I take it back.  Moppet is nowhere as racist at chopsocky.  I’m naming my first son Chopsocky . . . and my first daughter Moppet.

20) percenter 

WHAT YOU THINK IT IS: A nickname for Hollywood accountants.  “The percenter left the John Carter premiere laughing and screaming, ‘I told you so!  I told you so!'”

WHAT IT IS: An agent; “Mike Ovitz was a percenter before becoming a talent manager.”

Lame.

21) praisery

WHAT YOU THINK IT IS: A room in Tom Cruise’s house where a he’s told how “manly” he is.  “Tom Cruise checked into the Scientology Celebrity Center when his praisery was being renovated.”

WHAT IT IS: Public relations firm; “The studio is retaining an outside praisery to augment its p.r. chores on the film.”

Tomato.  Tomato.

22) Q rating

WHAT YOU THINK IT IS: The rank the other wordily alien Q, from Star Trek The Next Generation, gives a film in relation to whether or not it can be saved..  “The Q rating for John Carter was quoted as ‘laughable.'”

WHAT IT IS: Ad research rating that gauges how easily a celebrity is recognized — and how well the celebrity is liked.

In all honesty, how the hell is that measured?  With fairy dust?  Someone get the frog web, we got an idea for a fairy tale film!

23) Alphabet

WHAT YOU THINK IT IS:  Something executives don’t care about.  (The studio exec said he didn’t need to know the alphabet.  Spelling is for screenwriters and babies.

WHAT IT IS: The ABC television network; “The Alphabet web came in second in last week’s Nielsens race.”

This one boggles my mind.  Now Variety is just making fun of us.

24) socko

WHAT YOU THINK IT IS: Name for production assistants whose sole job is to compliment diva actresses so they’ll “put a sock in it” and let the director do his or her job.  “Beyonce hired her socko as a personal assistant after he praised her butt’s acting ability.”

WHAT IT IS: Very good (usually refers to box office performance); ” ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’ has done socko B.O.” (See also, boff, whammo)

What, is this 1950s?  Gee wilikers.  That’s zany.

25) sprocket opera

WHAT YOU THINK IT IS: The failed undertaking by Mike Meyers to turn his SNL skit, Sprockets, into a hot Broadway musical.  “The sprocket opera in not going to be a new, hot Broadway musical.”

WHAT IT IS: film festival; “The actor plans to attend the annual Sundance sprocket opera next year.”

Because “film fest” sounds so pretentious.

26) tubthump

WHAT YOU THINK IT IS: That song.  You know.  That song about getting knocked down and getting up again.  That song.  “Hey, Tubthump is on again.  You know.  That song about getting knocked down and getting up again.  That song.

WHAT IT IS: 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.”

Yeah, exactly.  That song.

27) U

WHAT YOU THINK IT IS: A shortened form of “you.”  “Hey, U!  U and Ur buddies should come over here.  Hey!  I’m talking to U!”
WHAT IT IS: Universal Pictures (compare to U., which refers to a university); “Barry Diller has just finalized a deal to acquire U’s TV operations.”
Oh, so actually Harvey Weinstein saying, “Hey, Universal!  Universal and Universal’s buddies should come over here.  Hey!  I’m talking to Universal!”

28) wicket

WHAT YOU THINK IT IS: The name of a small, teddy bear like creature from the forest moon of Endor.  “Wicket helped Princess Leah find her friends back at the Ewok village.”
WHAT IT IS: Box office (usually foreign); “Queues are forming at the wickets for the new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.”
How crazy would it be if Wicket grew up to work at a Wicket?  Huh?  Huh?  . . . . We just call them BOs in the theatre world.

29) yawner

WHAT YOU THINK IT IS: Keanu Reeves.  “Oh, look, the yawner is here for his screen test.”
WHAT IT IS: a boring show; “Despite a stellar cast, the play is a yawner and doesn’t look to have a long run.”
I think we’re both right.

30) zitcom

WHAT YOU THINK IT IS: A television comedy aimed at teenagers.
WHAT IT IS: A television comedy aimed at teenagers.

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