TNN buffs up

TNN just can’t keep one name to itself. Originally The Nashville Network, it changed its name to The National Network. Now its owner, Viacom, is changing it once again to Spike TV, the “first network for men.” They’re marketing the change to appeal to “unashamedly male” viewers with new shows like “Stripperella,” a cartoon starring Pamela Anderson.

While no one is about to mourn the old TNN, the network’s announcement has provoked controversy. Which of the following is suing Viacom, and why?

a) The National Organization for Women (NOW), for discriminating against female viewers.

b) ESPN2, who already has a copyrighted volleyball show called “Spike TV.”

c) Director Spike Lee, for using his name without permission.

Continue to get the answer…

If you said c), you are correct! If not, don’t worry — it just shows that any lawsuit is believable these days.

I think Lee’s premise is ridiculous. Besides the facts that there are countless other people going by the name Spike and that spike has many other common meanings, Viacom is choosing the name for probably the same reason Lee did: it sounds tough (his real name is Shelton).

Lee claims Viacom is intentionally hoping people will associate him with their new product. Even former senator Bill Bradley was fooled and said so in an affidavit, as did several other celebrities. This may be evidence of Lee’s achievement in associating himself with a common word and image, but it doesn’t give him a proprietary claim to it.

On the bright side, some of the network’s shows have potential. Ren and Stimpy are back and there’s going to be a new cartoon called “Gary the Rat,” featuring the voice of Kelsey Grammer.

In honor of Mr. Lee, I suggest we refer to any new show on the channel as a Spike TV Joint.