Project Runway will move to Lifetime in Nov. for season six; NBC Universal sues to stop move

Project Runway, the show that has single-handedly defined and revived cable network Bravo in recent years, is moving to Lifetime this fall, although NBC Universal is suing to prevent the surprising move. Lifetime will air the show’s sixth season, so its fifth season would air on Bravo first, probably this summer.

The series’ producer, The Weinstein Company, and Lifetime announced the deal today, calling the “five-year deal” “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,” according to a press release.

In the statement, Bob and Harvey Weinstein said, “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.”

NBC Universal, which owns Bravo, has sued the Weinstein Company, and its lawsuit says that the company “promised NBC that it would have an opportunity to match any offer to the rights of ‘Project Runway’ and that instead, Mr. [Harvey] Weinstein concluded a deal with Lifetime on Feb. 7, even though he continued to negotiate with NBC Universal for two more months,” The New York Times reports. Weinstein Company lawyer David Boies said in a statement, “it is always unfortunate when parties try to win in court what they have lost in the marketplace.”

The paper reports that a move was inevitable, as “one condition was that ‘Project Runway’ would have to move to a larger network. NBC Universal had promised to do so, moving it either to the USA cable network, or perhaps even its broadcast network, NBC.” And while “terms of the deal were not announced, but one executive involved in the negotiation said estimated the cost to Lifetime at over $150 million,” according to The New York Times.

“Project Runway” Hits the Catwalk and Struts Over to Lifetime [Lifetime/Weinstein press release]
NBC Goes to Court to Keep ‘Runway’ [New York Times]