June 1, 2006

Just plain Bill is banned in Hollywood name game

By Arthur Spiegelman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - If you have ever wondered what's in
a name, consider: Brooklyn, Moxie Crimefighter, Bluebell
Madonna, Suri, Phinneaus, Apple and, debuting just last week,

All these are names that celebrities have bestowed upon
their newborns in their quest for the unusual, outlandish or
off-the-wall. Consider plain Bill boring and banned.

The experts say it is only a matter of time before the
latest trendy new names spread to the general public. For
example, ordinary people in the Bronx could start naming their
children Brooklyn -- a name British soccer star David Beckham
and his ex-Spice Girl wife Victoria chose for their son.

Although some name experts think the public might embrace
Brooklyn as a first name, they might not jump at the name
another former Spice Girl, Geri Halliwell, gave her daughter --
Bluebell Madonna.

Shortly before the birth, Halliwell told a British magazine
she saw bluebells everywhere and took that as a sign. As for
the name Madonna, she explained it this way: "No one else has
the name except the Virgin and the singer, who I adore."

It might take a few years to see if the name Angelina Jolie
and Brad Pitt gave their new daughter -- Shiloh -- when she was
born on Saturday catches on with the general public.


Paul JJ Payack, the head of Global Language Monitor, which
monitors word and name usage, says Shiloh is unusual in several
ways: it is the site of one of the bloodiest battles in the
Civil War, a male name and means Messiah.

"This is, indeed, a very unusual trend, where the baby's
name is seen as just another Hollywood adornment," Payack said.

"Having children has become a fad, and as will any fad
emanating from Hollywood, self-augmentation, adornment and
going to the extreme are going to be present," he said.

Pam Satran, co-author of the bestselling baby naming book
"Beyond Jason & Jennifer," says that for years bland names were
the order of the day, but not any more. In fact, the next
edition of her book will be titled, "Beyond Jason & Jennifer,
Madison & Montana" to recognize the first name revolution.

"Twenty years ago celebrity baby names were pretty simple.
It was Kate, Kate, Max, Max. Now celebrities are trying to
outdo celebrities," she said.

In the 1950s, if a celebrity had an unusual name he or she
would change it something simple and socially acceptable like
Ken or Debbie.

As the decades passed, new fads included using boys' names
for girls, like Drew, Cameron and Stockard. Then came the place
names: Madison, Brooklyn, Paris and now, Shiloh.

"These days if you have an ordinary name in Hollywood you
change it to a weird one. The more distinctive your name is the
better. There's a whole issue of image and branding out there,"
Satran said.

She added, "Celebrities are very much aware of the power of
their image."

And with that in mind, here are some example of what
celebrities have recently called their children: Julia Roberts,
Hazel and Phinneaus; Gwyneth Paltrow, Moses and Apple; Jason
Lee, Pilot Inspektor; Joely Fisher, True Harlow; and Nicolas
Cage: Kal-el.

According to the Social Security Administration the 10 most
popular male names of the 2000s so far are Jacob, Michael,
Joshua, Matthew, Andrew, Christopher, Joseph, Daniel, Nicholas
and Ethan.

For girls they are Emily, Madison, Hannah, Emma, Ashley,
Abigail, Alexis, Olivia, Samantha and Sarah.

Or to sum up in a single word: BORING.