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Not so fast, Lifetime: Bravo brings back one more season of 'Project Runway'

April 15, 2008 | 10:06 am

Gunn_klum_j1490anc_250 NEW YORK -- OK, “Project Runway” fans, it’s official: You’re in for a “PR”-heavy 2008. Bravo executives confirmed today that your favorite fashion competition will return for its fifth season this July on that network before strutting over to its new home on Lifetime, where Season 6 is scheduled to air in late November.

The news came this morning at Bravo’s upfront breakfast, held at Craft, the Flatiron restaurant owned by “Top Chef’s” Tom Colicchio. As reporters munched on frittata, bacon and apple-cinnamon doughnuts, Bravo President Lauren Zalaznick declared that the network is in the best shape it’s ever been.

“Ours is not a comeback story,” she said. “Ours is a story of absolute continued momentum that we’re really proud of.”

Of course, there is that pesky matter of the “Runway” lawsuit, filed by Bravo’s parent company NBC Universal last week after the Weinstein Co. announced it was moving the hit show over to Lifetime.

“Regarding last week’s news, as you can well imagine, I have not much to say,” Zalaznick said. “It’s ongoing litigation, and the no comment starts here and ends here.”

She did note that “Runway” Executive Producer Harvey Weinstein had planned to attend the breakfast, but was likely too busy doing favors for NBCU Chief Executive Jeff Zucker.

“Harvey was gonna come, but Jeff has four kids, so it takes a long time to drop them at school and then he has windows and cleaning to do, so he may or may not make it,” she quipped.

That was about all Bravo executives had to say about “Runway,” which is currently in preproduction. But they had plenty else to talk about, including Bravo’s “consumer-centric” approach.

“We put the consumer in the center of our swirling bubble of Bravo,” said Zalaznick, making the channel sound like a zesty brand of shower gel.   

The mantra for 2008, repeated by multiple executives: “More Bravo, more often and in more places.”

The cable channel is boosting its programming hours by 45% in the coming year and adding three new series to its slate of 12 original programs.

Joining the line-up are:

• “The Rachel Zoe Project:” A “docu-drama” about the celebrity stylist and her coterie as her empire grows.
• “Date My Ex:” A spin-off of “The Real Housewives of Orange County,” this reality dating series tracks the romantic adventures of Jo De La Rosa as her dates are monitored by her ex-fiance Slade Smiley.
• “Real Housewives of New Jersey:” Self-explanatory. The third iteration of this franchise centers on five Garden State women and their lavish lifestyles.

Returning this year, along with “Project Runway": “Flipping Out,” “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List,” “Million Dollar Listing,” “The Millionaire Matchmaker,” “The Real Housewives of New York City,” “The Real Housewives of Orange County,” “Shear Genius,” “Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style,” “Top Chef,” “Top Design” and “Work Out.”

The channel also has several other projects in development, including a series about New York restaurateur Donatella Arpaia, a reality show about a group of wealthy friends in Miami and a “Shear Genius” spinoff featuring former contestant Tabatha Coffey.

-- Matea Gold

(Photo courtesy Mark Abrahams / Bravo)

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