Lee Drives Spike into Heart of Viacom
“Do the Right Thing” and “Jungle Fever” director Spike Lee won a major legal victory against media giant Viacom on Thursday when the five appellate judges of the New York State Supreme Court upheld an injunction preventing the conglomerate from renaming its TNN cable network “Spike TV,” reports Reuters.
The court also ruled, however, that Viacom could appeal in September, prompting TNN spokesman Robert Pini to say in a statement: “This case is far from over … and we still expect to be vindicated ultimately.”
Earlier this week, Viacom lawyers told the appeals court that Lee’s initial injunction had to date cost the company $16.8 million, and could ultimately cost them $42 million should Spike TV not be allowed to launch.
Lee, 46, reportedly took his action because of fears that the new network — which aims to appeal to men in the same way that the Lifetime network is geared to women — would be erroneously associated with him.
Cable operators were alerted against switching their logo icon to Spike TV as planned because of Lee’s injunction. The move caused “substantial confusion, expense and disruption,” according to TNN lawyer Clara Kim.
Lee’s lawyer, Johnnie Cochran, argued that a network calling itself Spike TV would cause his client irreparable injury by associating “an acclaimed artist’s name” with the “demeaning, vapid and quasi-pornographic content of ‘Spike TV.'”
TNN currently offers reruns of “Star Trek,” “Baywatch” and “Miami Vice,” while the “new, improved” Spike TV is meant to offer such new programs as the racy animated series “Stripperella” (featuring the voice of Pamela Anderson); “Gary the Rat” (Kelsey Grammer’s voice); and “The Ren & Stimpy Adult Party Cartoon.”