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Lee Gets Name Spiked From Network for Now

June 13, 2003|James Bates | Times Staff Writer

Spike Lee's still got name.

At least temporarily.

The movie director won a preliminary injunction Thursday in New York in his effort to prove that the people behind Spike TV did the wrong thing by using the name for its cable network geared for guys. Lee wants the name spiked because he believes the network is trying to capitalize on his celebrity.

"You can't take the name Spike TV when you have a person like Spike Lee who is such an important part of television and film. When you talk to people, across the board they think of Spike Lee when you talk about Spike TV," said Lee's lawyer, Johnnie L. Cochran Jr.

With the name change scheduled to take effect Monday, parent MTV Networks said it would move fast to try to overturn the court order preventing it from using the name.

"We are seeking an immediate stay of the court's order, pending appeal. We respectfully disagree with the court's judgment, which we believe is not supported by the law or the evidence," said MTV, a unit of media giant Viacom Inc.

Lee, who was born Shelton Jackson Lee and given the nickname "Spike" by his mother, has directed such films as "25th Hour," "He Got Game," "Do the Right Thing" and "She's Gotta Have It," as well as numerous TV programs and commercials.

Lee sued last week over the use of the name, arguing that people erroneously associate Spike TV with him. Lee bolstered his argument with affidavits from the likes of former Sen. Bill Bradley (D-N.J.). Pending the outcome of the case, Lee must post a $500,000 bond to cover Viacom's expenses in case he loses. Cochran said Lee was putting up the money.

Viacom and MTV had planned to rename their TNN cable network Spike TV, calling it "the first network for men." A spokesman for MTV said Spike TV President Albie Hecht got the name from a Jules Feiffer cartoon featuring a man lamenting his name, then asking to be called "Spike."

With such fare as wrestling, "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" episodes, "Star Trek" reruns and original shows such as "Slamball," the network claims a 65% male audience.

The network also plans to add adult animation programs.

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