Hot off directing the biggest NBA marketing campaign in Turner Broadcasting history — leading to the new season’s tip-off on TNT Oct. 28 — Spike Lee says he’s pleased with his latest alliance with cable TV. “TNT has approved them and we’re very happy with them,” Lee says of the completed NBA spots. “My creative director, Desmond Hall, came up with the concept based on TNT’s briefing. They have my stamp on it aesthetically, but it was the creative that got us the job.” In keeping with the spots’ theme of “Let the Truth Be Told,” Lee also shed some light on his current projects for cable networks, including a pilot for ESPN based on his 1998 movie, He Got Game, and a two-hour pilot for Showtime titled Sucker Free City. “My wife [Tonya Lee Lewis] is doing stuff for Noggin, but as far as I’m concerned Sucker Free City is it as far as Viacom is concerned,” Lee says of the media conglomerate he knocked heads with this summer over its rebranding of TNN to Spike TV. He downplays reports of any lucrative development deal as part of that settlement. “Yes, there was a settlement, but luckily Viacom doesn’t own everything in the world. The Showtime pilot was already a done deal way before this Spike TV thing. I still have a lot of ill feeling toward the people who tried to damage me. [Showtime chairman and CEO] Matt Blank and I are cool, but as for the rest of Viacom, I’m not feeling it.” So he hasn’t watched Spike TV. “I don’t need to. The only good thing about the lawsuit is people know now it has nothing to do with me.” And don’t expect him to work for BET either. “They’re going to continue with…the model that Bob Johnson made billions from, which is do not spend any money on original programming, and show music videos,” Lee says. “I like hip-hop, but this hip-hop ghetto mentality and all that comes with that is really holding African-Americans back. If you look at the images of what they’re selling and the lifestyle in these videos, that is detrimental to the growth of us as a people. And…at BET, that is all they do.” But as for the rest of cable, bring it on. “You can do a lot of stuff for cable you can’t do for the networks. The Sopranos, Nip/Tuck, Playmakers, the best shows are on cable. My wife never liked football before, but every Tuesday night she watches Playmakers and now she wants to go to Jets and Giants games.” His own ESPN turn will introduce new characters to He Got Game. As for his Showtime pilot, he has one request: just don’t call it S.F.C. “No, no, no, it’s Sucker Free City. Great title. Trust me.”

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