[06/16/03 - 12:00 AM]
Spike Puts Spike on New TNN Name
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- Today, Monday, June 16 was scheduled to be the date TNN officially changed its name to Spike TV. That's not the case after a ruling last week by the Supreme Court in Manhattan. The ruling was the result of a lawsuit brought against the Viacom-owned channel by filmmaker Spike Lee over the use of the name "Spike."

Lee alleged the network was using his name as a means to draw viewers to the channel without his consent. While normally such a suit would seem frivolous (and hence why it was not originally reported about here), the lawyers for Lee, including Johnnie Cochran Jr., have revealed some devastating evidence to back up their claims.

His team produced an interview with TNN's president Albie Hecht in the April 16 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer which saw the network head giving Lee's claims some merit:

As for the Spike TV handle: "We were looking for a name that would reflect the attitude we wanted - smart, sexy, active, irreverent, slightly aggressive and unapologetically male," says Hecht. (We've got goosebumps!)

His role models: Spike the macho vamp in Buffy the Vampire Slayer; directors Spike Lee and Spike Jonze. As a verb, think spike a volleyball. "It's a cool spike. An aggressive spike," Hecht says.

Such revelations gave State Supreme Court Justice Walter Tolub reason enough to put an injunction on the channel from using the "Spike TV" name. He also ordered Lee to post a $500,000 bond to cover Viacom's costs in case the company prevails.

As of today all references of Spike TV have been removed from the network's official web site, leaving just a note about the change:

We told you we would be changing our name. Due to a New York State ruling we can't do that at this time. We are still going to be the First Network for Men. Stay tuned as we build and change.

TNN will simply revert to the "New TNN" tagline it had used previously for the time being. The channel has no plans to reschedule any of its programming, including "The Strip," a series of adult-oriented cartoons seen as the linchpin to the network's rebranding. The two-hour block bows on June 26.

The Supreme Court in Manhattan is currently scheduled to resume arguments from both parties on June 23.

For the complete article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, click here.

For more information on the legal merits of Spike Lee's allegations, visit Findlaw.com's article on this subject.

  [june 2003]  

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