Spike judge orders Lee to post $2 mil bond

Filmmaker must pay Viacom's fees if he loses

A New York State Supreme Court judge has upped the ante in Spike Lee vs. Viacom.

Lee now must post an additional $2 million bond to cover Viacom’s losses in the event the conglom wins the case. Helmer posted a $500,000 bond two weeks ago upon winning a preliminary injunction against Viacom.

State Supreme Court Justice Walter Tolub increased the bond amount after Viacom’s testimony about projected losses. At the very least, renaming TNN would cost another $8.4 million, according to Kevin Kay, net’s exec VP of programming and production.

‘Balancing act’

“It appears to me that the potential damages to Viacom are probably much greater than I had estimated,” Tolub said. “The plaintiff should not be precluded from bringing an action because of the size of the undertaking. The $2.5 million strikes me as a sum that is something of a balancing act.”

On Monday, Tolub offered the two parties a non-jury trial option for July 7. Viacom’s reps agreed to the proposal, but Lee’s lawyers rejected that date Tuesday morning. A non-jury trial will commence Aug. 18.

Viacom stated: “We are pleased with the court’s decision to grant our request for an expedited trial.” Lee’s lawyer, Johnnie Cochran, did not return a call for comment.

Crux of the case rests on the issue of identifiability. Tolub has said the case will focus on research from experts — rather than celebrity testimony — on Lee’s standing in the public consciousness.

Helmer is in Los Angeles shooting a pilot for Showtime. His wife, Tonya, was in court Tuesday to watch the proceedings.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)