Reality hit "Project Runway," the foundation of Bravo's transformation into a reality-based power network, is jumping ship in favor of women's network Lifetime — but NBC isn't going down without a fight.
Lifetime Networks' President and CEO Andrea Wong and The Weinstein Company's co-chairmen Bob and Harvey Weinstein announced today that "Project Runway" will begin its sixth season on Lifetime in November 2008. However, NBC, which owns Bravo, filed suit to keep the hit show, claiming that the network had right of first refusal on the series. From the New York Times' Bill Carter:
In a lawsuit filed Monday in state court in Manhattan, NBC accused the owner of "Project Runway," the Weinstein Company, of violating its rights by making the deal with Lifetime.
The suit asserts Harvey Weinstein, the chief executive of the Weinstein Company, promised NBC that it would have an opportunity to match any offer to the rights of "Project Runway" and that instead, Mr. Weinstein concluded a deal with Lifetime on Feb. 7, even though he continued to negotiate with NBC Universal for two more months.
In a statement, NBC said "NBC Universal has continuing rights related to 'Project Runway,' including a right of first refusal to future cycles of the series, which the Weinstein Company unfortunately has refused to honor."
Still, the show's stars expressed excitement about the move. "Fashion is about change, so we're looking forward to saying hello to Lifetime, our new fashionable home for our fashionable series," host Heidi Klum stated. "We're excited to bring 'Project Runway' to the #1 network for women."
Mentor Tim Gunn added, "Lifetime and I will definitely 'make it work' together. I am very excited to be part of the Lifetime family."
Lifetime is a joint venture between the Walt Disney Company and Hearst Corporation. Bravo was acquired by NBC Universal in 2005.
Press release below:
"PROJECT RUNWAY" HITS THE CATWALK AND STRUTS OVER TO LIFETIME
IN NOVEMBER '08
-- Groundbreaking Agreement for the Seven-Time Emmy®-Nominated and
Peabody Award-Winning Hit Series --
NEW YORK -- Lifetime Networks and The Weinstein Company have entered into a groundbreaking partnership that will move cable's top reality series, "Project Runway," to the top network for women, Lifetime Television, beginning November 2008 with the premiere of season six. In its most recent season, the hit show averaged a 3.8 W18-49 Live + 7 day rating* and the Live + 7 rating for the March 5th finale was a 6.1 W18-49 AA%.
Heidi Klum, "Project Runway's" international supermodel host, and Tim Gunn, Chief Creative Officer at Liz Claiborne, Inc. and mentor to the show's contestants, are both fashioning their new home at Lifetime.
The pact, encompassing a five-year deal for the seven-time Emmy®-nominated and Peabody Award-winning series "Project Runway," was announced today by Lifetime Networks' President and CEO Andrea Wong and The Weinstein Company's Co-Chairmen Harvey and Bob Weinstein.
Wong said, "'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 watercooler movies, dramas, and reality shows like 'Project Runway' is what Lifetime Television is all about. We welcome The Weinstein Company, Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn to the Lifetime family for many walks down the runway to come."
"'Project Runway' is our programming crown jewel and great credit goes to Heidi, Tim and The Magical Elves for building more than a television show, but an actual brand that influences fashion interests and pop culture," stated Bob and Harvey Weinstein. "Whether it be our recent Peabody Award or the great ratings we have seen each year, 'Project Runway's' millions of loyal viewers have made the show a nationwide phenomenon. 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."
"Fashion is about change, so we're looking forward to saying hello to Lifetime, our new fashionable home for our fashionable series," Heidi Klum stated. "We're excited to bring 'Project Runway' to the #1 network for women."
Tim Gunn added, "Lifetime and I will definitely 'make it work' together. I am very excited to be part of the Lifetime family."
Responding to a lawsuit filed today against it in the New York Supreme Court The Weinstein Company noted, after declining to compete for the right to have "Project Runway," NBC has sued to try to disrupt the series moving to Lifetime. "We believe that this lawsuit is without merit. While good for the market for lawyers, it is always unfortunate when parties try to win in court what they have lost in the marketplace," said David Boies, counsel to The Weinstein Company.
"Project Runway" provides budding designers with an opportunity to launch their careers in fashion. The wildly successful competition reality series has proven to be one of television's most talked about and was the highest rated reality competition show in all of cable for 2007.
"Project Runway" is executive produced by Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz of Magical Elves ("Project Greenlight," "Last Comic Standing," "Top Chef"). Heidi Klum and her managers Desiree Gruber and Jane Cha of NYC-based Full Picture also executive produce the series. John Miller and Barbara Schneeweiss will oversee the production on behalf of The Weinstein Company.
The Weinstein Company (TWC) was created by Bob and Harvey Weinstein, the brothers who founded Miramax Films Corporation in 1979. TWC is a multi-media company that officially launched on October 1, 2005. Dimension Films, the genre label that was founded in 1993 by Bob Weinstein, is also included under the TWC banner.
During the Weinsteins' tenure at Miramax Films the company released some of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful independent feature films which received 249 Academy Award® nominations and won 60 Oscars®, have generated billions of dollars in worldwide box office receipts and billions more in home video sales. In its history, Dimension Films has released some of the most successful franchises including "Scream," "Spy Kids" and "Scary Movie."
LIFETIME is the leader in women's television and one of the top-rated basic cable television networks. A diverse, multi-media company, LIFETIME is committed to offering the highest quality entertainment and information programming, and advocating a wide range of issues affecting women and their families. LIFETIME Television, Lifetime Movie Network, Lifetime Real Women and Lifetime Digital (including myLifetime.com) are part of LIFETIME Entertainment Services, a 50/50 joint venture of Hearst Corporation and The Walt Disney Company.
*nearly 14 times Bravo's Total Day W1849 rating, while season four was in originals. (Bravo W1849 AA% Total Day is 0.28; Prime is .61, Source: NMR: Live +7; 11/14/07-03/05/08)