'Spike TV' Judge Calls for August Trial


Viacom Inc. might find out on June 30 whether filmmaker Spike Lee has the financial wherewithal to keep fighting Viacom's attempt to morph TNN into Spike TV.

New York State Supreme Court Justice Walter Talub gave Lee until that date to pony up a $2.5 million bond to cover Viacom's costs, if Lee loses his bid to stop the media conglomerate from changing the name of TNN.

Tolub last week also set a date of Aug. 18 for a non-jury trial on the matter, which is about a month earlier than was projected.

In a statement, TNN officials said, "We are pleased with the court's decision to grant our request for an expedited trial."

On June 13, Lee won a temporary injunction barring Viacom from renaming TNN, claiming Spike TV was a deliberate attempt to hijack his image and prestige.

The New York State Appellate Court spiked Viacom Inc.'s attempt to block the injunction, forcing the August trial.

TNN claims that it lost $16.8 million in the first week alone because of Lee's court actions, and stands to lose $50 million in national ad and marketing dollars spent on Spike TV rebranding.

Coincidentally, Lee is working on a series pilot, dubbed SFC, for Viacom-owned Showtime.

The son of Spike Jones, the late bandleader, last week weighed in on Viacom's behalf, saying in a court filing that Lee doesn't own or have any "individual right" to the name Spike.

Spike Jones Jr. apparently is worried about being barred from licensing his father's recordings — the best-known one is a manic rendition of "Cocktails for Two" — or from basing a movie on his father's life and career.