As battling continues in court over whether the Weinstein Co. had the right to take “Project Runway” to Lifetime Networks, NBC Universal has signed producers Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz of Magical Elves to an exclusive first look deal, guaranteeing that they won’t be following the cable hit to Lifetime. And it leaves the Weinstein Co. looking for a new production team.
Cutforth and Lipsitz are the production team behind not only “Project Runway” in its run on Bravo since 2004, but also “Top Chef” for Bravo and “Last Comic Standing” for NBC. So they will be staying put with NBCU. “Project Runway” hosts/judges Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn have contracts with the Weinstein Co.
"I’ve worked with Jane and Dan for over 10 years. They are great producers with original voices and a special knack for casting. Their track record of success speaks for itself and we’re thrilled to have them here at NBC Universal," said Jeff Gaspin, President and Chief Operating Officer, Universal Television Group.
"We are looking to build a bigger production capacity to feed our own and third-party distribution channels and platforms,” added Ben Silverman, Co-Chairman, NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios.
The agreement provides NBC Universal’s broadcast, all cable (Bravo, Oxygen, Sci-Fi and USA) digital and wireless properties an exclusive first look on all projects developed by Cutforth and Lipsitz. It also provides opportunities for Magical Elves to work on projects developed by the NBC Universal properties.
Meanwhile, NBCU has a lawsuit pending, claiming that the Weinstein reneged on its contractual obligation to give NBCU a right of first refusal before moving “Project Runway” to a competitor. The Weinstein Co. reportedly signed a five-year deal with Lifetime for over $150 million, including “Project Runway, two other TV series and a collection of movies.