I was listening to the writer’s commentary for the “Cigarette Burns” Masters of Horror episode, and the writers said that when the legal team (or whoever) found out that they’d named a character after a friend of their’s, they had to give the first name to one character and the last name to another character.
Is this common procedure? I am dead-set on naming a lead character after a good friend of mine (first name and last name). Does this mean I have to lie to someone and say that none of the names are taken from people I know?
Lying is certainly an option, but even better one would be to get your friend to sign a release permitting his name to be used.
The legal folks have a good reason for asking you whether any character is named after a real person: they don’t want to get sued for libel or defamation. But if your friend knows his name is in the script and is cool with it, all it takes is some paperwork to make that legally binding. At whatever point it comes up (probably close to production), explain the situation to the producers.
In all likelihood, it will just take your friend’s John Hancock to let the character be named John Hancock.