Weinstein Company threatened to sue if Tim Gunn’s book mentioned Project Runway

With just two days until the premiere of his new show, Tim Gunn is everywhere–and he’d dishing dirt about the show that made him a star. Among other things, he reveals that his publisher was threatened with legal action if he mentioned that show’s name in his book, that Bravo didn’t bother to tell him they’d hired a co-host until immediately before production, and that Tim wasn’t told that he’d have a co-host for his new show, a fascinating interview with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s Melanie McFarland. First, regarding his book Tim Gunn: A Guide to Quality, Taste & Style, he said, “Bravo’s going to kill me for saying this, but I’m going to say it anyway. There were two references to the show in my book. Very matter-of-fact, in sentences like, ‘As I would say to my students at Parsons and the ‘Project Runway’ designers … .’ Then it was in my bio in the book, and it was on the cover flap. It all had to be removed,” he said.

His publisher’s “lawyers said: ‘This is a matter of fact. It’s indisputable, in terms of the biography. … It’s not as though we’re promoting a trademarked name or anything of that sort.’ And the Weinstein lawyers said, ‘If it’s anywhere in the book, we will file an injunction and the book will not be permitted to be released.’ So I said to Abrams: ‘Let’s take the high road. Let’s just get rid of it,’” according to Tim.

Even worse, Tim says Project Runway‘s production company, “The Weinstein company[,] went ballistic when they heard about the Tim Gunn show, and they claimed that they owned it. Can you believe that?” That’s why Magical Elves, the company that actually produces Runway, isn’t producing the new show. Tim explains: “They wanted, and I wanted and Bravo wanted them to do the Tim Gunn show, but they had to decline because the Weinstein Company was calling the Tim Gunn show a spinoff of project runway. So if the Magical Elves would have done the production, Weinstein would have definitely said it’s a spinoff.”

Regarding Bravo’s hiring of a co-host (Veronica Webb, who Tim says he likes), he wasn’t really told about that. It’s only, like, his show. McFarland reports that “three days before production was supposed to commence in May, he was unaware of” Veronica’s hiring. And earlier, “Tony Tripoli, one of Kathy Griffin’s ex-best friends,” told Tim at a book appearance that he was Tim’s co-host, which led to a “tirade to Bravo President Lauren Zalaznick.”

Tim says he told Zalaznick, “I said: ‘Why don’t you cast him as me? I don’t need to be on the show.’ Then she said: ‘No, no, we only talked to him. We didn’t retain him.’”

Finally, bless him, Tim says he agrees with much of the rest of the world that Top Design sucked. “It was terrible. That whole show was terrible. And the executive producer is my producer, Scott Stone. And I love Scott. He’s done a wonderful job. I just can’t understand — how did that show get to be so terrible? ‘See you later, decorator,’ coming out of Jonathan Adler’s mouth? I love Jonathan! I never met Todd Oldham, but I have such respect for him. And he was so horrible,” Tim said.

Tea and dish with Tim Gunn … an exclusive conversation with the “Guide to Style” star [Seattle Post-Intelligencer]

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.