The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Friday, June 13, 2003

The bizarre misstep that is TNN, aka The National (not Nashville) Network, is floundering once again. Much-ballyhooed plans to rebrand the network as male-centric Spike TV are in danger, thanks to the objections of Spike Lee. Claiming that he's got some level of exclusivity on the name "Spike", Lee successfully got the courts to suspend the promotion of the network's new name until a trial can be held. (I notice TNN is in no hurry to pull down the Spike TV material off their website; as of this writing, it still has that name all over it.)

I think Lee's claims stretch credibility a bit. Since when is he the only Spike on the entertainment block? There's fellow filmmaker Spike Jonze, as well as the late, great Spike Jones. And let's not forget Elvis Costello, who released an album entitled "Spike" years ago.

Then again, if corporate parent Viacom were smart, they would have headed this off early by bringing Lee in and offering to showcase his work, including new projects, on Spike TV. It would be a fit they could've exploited to great effect, helping them to rope in hip black and urban audiences. Of course, it could be that Spike Lee is too black and urban for what the network hacks have in mind for this new-again channel. Who knows, perhaps the final settlement will have Lee join the channel in some capacity.

Geez, if I were Viacom, I'd be sorry I ever touched this God-forsaken channel. Nothing goes right with it--unlucky every step of the way in trying to establish itself. At this point, I'd adopt a black cat as its mascot, seriously. Barring that, just shutter the damn thing. Nobody outside of a couple of Trekkies will notice.