In addition to selling Lifetime the rights to air Project Runway 6 and four additional seasons, The Weinstein Company also sold the network a spin-off of the series, according to NBC Universal’s legal action against TWC.
That 15-page complaint [PDF], which was filed with the New York Supreme Court, has been published by the Wall Street Journal, and among other things, the document confirms that Project Runway 5 will debut in July. It also cites a January lunch at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills during which “Harvey Weinstein gave Jeff Zucker his word” about NBC’s right of first refusal, which is what NBC says it was denied. In other words, the evidence appears to be a verbal agreement and subsequent e.mail messages.
Also in the complaint, NBCU alleges that the Weinstein Company sold “rights relating to a spin-off of” Project Runway to Lifetime, which they say they’re contractually obligated to have “rights of first negotiation and first refusal” for. The complaint also says “[m]oney damages would be inadequate” because they “would lose immeasurable and valuable goodwill associated with exhibiting such a highly successful Program…” In other words, NBC and Bravo want the court to force TWC to let them buy the rights to the series.
Project Runway 5 is “presently scheduled to begin airing in July 2008,” the complaint says, a part of a January agreement NBCU and Bravo now says was not in their best interests. The season “would be produced and exhibited earlier than Bravo desired … concessions [which] left Bravo with a substantially less optimal schedule for producing, airing and selling commercial time and product integrations on Cycle Five, as well as a much shorter interval between the airing of Cycles Four and Five than Bravo would normally have preserved, and that it believed was most advantageous for it,” the complaint says.
In the document, the plaintiffs take credit for the show, essentially dissing its creators, saying Bravo “spent an enormous amount of time, energy and money in the development, production and promotion of the Program, transforming it from an untested concept into an unqualified commercial and critical ‘hit.'” As a result, the complaint claims, the network and its parent company “have built significant goodwill as a result of their successful development and promotion of the Program, including with viewers, critics, advertisers and owners of other entertainment projects looking for distribution partners” and “will cause Plaintiffs irreparable harm.”
Later, the complaint says that “TWC ‘pitched’ the Program in general conceptual terms to Bravo and a number of other television networks” in 2003, and “Bravo was the only one willing to give the Program a chance.” Despite that, while they’ve been negotiating since “late 2006” over season six, NBCU “learned of TWC’s dealings [with Lifetime] only last week.”