How Project Runway went from flop to hit

Project Runway debuted to dismal ratings 10 years ago this December, but it grew into a hit show that, before it was poached by Lifetime, defined Bravo, at least until Bravo devolved into a network that showcases rich assholes.

Lauren Zalaznick, the former head of Bravo and other networks who left NBCUniversal last fall after having her networks taken away from her, has written about How Project Runway “Flopped” as part of LinkedIn’s series of “Career Curveballs.” (Yes, LinkedIn apparently exists to do more than send harassing e-mail messages.)

When she started as Bravo’s president at Bravo, Project Runway was in development, and she thought it could become a hit. But its first episode was watched by a tiny audience, getting a .17 rating among 18- to 49-year-olds.

Zalaznick explains how they changed that, and the solution is somewhat well-known and ultimately simple: Bravo re-ran the show over and over until it caught on.

But the details are fascinating, including how they selected the original air date in a pre-DVR era. Zalaznick skips over all creative decisions (such as Tim Gunn’s near-accidental casting; he also wasn’t paid for season one) but gives us a lot of information about the strategy and decisions she and her team employed.

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.


A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

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.