TNN Network Can Call Itself Spike TV
July 7, 2003 | The New York Times
By The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Spike TV won’t be getting spiked after all.
Filmmaker Spike Lee and Viacom settled a dispute Monday that allows the media giant to rebrand its TNN network as Spike TV, ending a lawsuit that contended the new moniker was a deliberate attempt to hijack Lee’s image.
Lee, director of “Malcolm X” and “Do the Right Thing,” had obtained a temporary injunction in June that prevented the name change, but on Monday state Supreme Court Justice Walter Tolub lifted the order.
The ruling means Viacom, which also owns CBS and MTV, can proceed immediately with plans to call the network Spike TV, the “first television network for men.” Details on the settlement were not disclosed.
TNN shows reruns of “The A-Team,” “Baywatch” and “Miami Vice” and sports entertainment such as pro wrestling and “American Gladiators.” The network also carries an animated series featuring Pamela Anderson as the voice of Stan Lee’s “Stripperella,” an undercover agent who is also a stripper.
Lee, whose real name is Shelton Jackson Lee, said he objected to being associated with low-brow programming.
The judge initially ordered Lee to post a $500,000 bond on June 13 after he issued a temporary injunction against Viacom’s plan to rename TNN. But after a hearing two weeks ago, the judge raised the bond to $2.5 million and gave Lee until Monday to post it.
The additional $2 million was never posted, and the judge vacated the injunction after both sides reached the agreement, said one of Lee’s lawyers, Terry Gross.
“We have settled the case with Viacom,” Gross said. “It’s obviously good when parties settle.”
During the hearing Monday, TNN vice president Kevin Kay said the network had lost millions of dollars since the injunction and stood to lose millions more if the bar continued.
Viacom officials didn’t immediately return telephone calls seeking comment on the judge’s order.
While the case was pending, Lee was in Los Angeles filming “Sucker-Free City” for Showtime, a cable network owned by Viacom.