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'Project Runway' jumps from Bravo to Lifetime, NBC takes action against Weinstein

April 7, 2008 |  1:59 pm

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Brace yourselves, “Project Runway” fans, because this one is a biggie: After five seasons on Bravo, your favorite fashion competition will sashay over to a new network.

The Weinstein Co., which produces the popular program, announced today that the Heidi Klum-hosted show is moving to Lifetime Networks as part of a five-season deal with the network. Here’s what the producers had to say:

“We would like to sincerely thank NBC Universal and Bravo for all their contribution and support. Today’s announcement is a celebration of all of our success and having Lifetime’s unique cable reach will ensure that the show will continue to grow and expand in the years to come. Lifetime is one of the strongest cable networks in the industry, with great leadership and a true commitment to original programming. We are very excited for the many new opportunities that will now be provided to ‘Runway’ and its fans and look forward to premiering the sixth season in November 2008.”

The move is a major coup for Lifetime, and network president Andrea Wong sounded jubilant about the deal:

“Project Runway’ is one of the best television programs on the air today on broadcast or cable. I am a huge fan. All my friends are huge fans. Having water cooler movies, dramas, and reality shows like ‘Project Runway’ is what Lifetime Television is all about.”

The move is apparently not viewed sanguinely at NBC Universal. According to a joint news release from Lifetime and the Weinstein Co., NBC decided not to pick up the show, then sued the producers in New York Supreme Court today over the move to Lifetime.

David Boies, the high-powered attorney representing the Weinstein Co., dismissed the suit as without merit. NBC Universal could not immediately be reached for comment.

So what does this mean for Season 6? The show will still feature Klum, who quipped in today’s announcement that “fashion is about change.” Designer mentor Tim Gunn also pledged to “make it work” with Lifetime.

UPDATE: NBC Universal says that the Weinstein Co. signed the deal with Lifetime without offering it the chance to match the offer. Here's the company's statement:

"NBC Universal has continuing legal rights related to 'Project Runway,' including a right of first refusal to future cycles of the series, which the Weinstein Co. unfortunately has refused to honor. NBC Universal regrettably had no alternative but to bring legal action to enforce its rights to this program, including the right to decide whether it is in the best interest of the company to continue to air the show under the proposed financial terms."

Amid this thorny dispute, it remains unclear how Bravo will handle the fifth season of "Runway," which is set to air on the network sometime this year. Casting for the show is scheduled to wrap up this week.

-- Matea Gold

Photo: Getty Images. (L-R) Model Tyson Beckford, model Niki Taylor, "Project Runway" judge Nina Garcia, judge and designer Michael Kors, singer Victoria Beckham and model/host Heidi Klum attend the "Project Runway" Season 4 Fall 2008.

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