Andrea Wong: Project Runway’s “template” is easily reproduced

EXCLUSIVE I talked to Lifetime president Andrea Wong Friday night about Project Runway‘s move to her network, and asked about the related changes, specifically the change in location and the change in producers.

While she wouldn’t confirm that Bunim-Murray is taking it over (she said “whether it’s Bunim-Murray or someone else…”), Wong said that because the show has such an established “template,” any production company can follow that template. I’d previously expressed skepticism about Bunim-Murray, suggesting that they’d never really produced a “classy reality show” like Bravo’s current hit show.

Wong also listed the components that make the show work, including Tim Gunn, Heidi Klum, and the challenges, and pointed out that they’d all still be present for Project Runway 6. But she left location off her list, so I asked her about that, saying that they were “abandoning New York.” She corrected me and said they’re not leaving the city completely, and more significantly, insisted that the city and location isn’t critical to the show’s success.

Wong said that most of the drama occurs in the workroom, and that’s just “four walls and a room,” and asked me what we really see of the physical location, and I admitted that it’s mostly just establishing shots of buildings or b-roll footage.

In response to a question from Aaron Barnhart of the Kansas City Star, Wong said she doesn’t want Lifetime to become the next Bravo, and pointed out that Lifetime has higher ratings. I asked if she just wants Bravo’s audience, and she said no, she just wants Project Runway‘s audience. If she’s right about all of this, she’ll probably get it.

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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.