Project Courtroom puts show in limbo


Where will “Project Runway” air next year? A New York judge has granted NBC Universal an injunction blocking the Weinstein Company from moving the show to Lifetime as planned in January. NBCU claims it had a contractual right to match the Lifetime offer and keep the hit cable show on Bravo.

The legal battle over Project Runway began almost as soon as the Weinstein Company announced the deal with Lifetime last April. The judge’s order, which is being appealed, puts Lifetime in a quandary, since the cable network had been planning heavy promotion of Project Runway ahead of its January debut, along with work on spin-off shows – all now prohibited by the court order.

“We are disappointed with the court’s decision to grant the preliminary injunction against the Weinstein Company. It’s unfortunate that the people hurt most by this ongoing dispute are the loyal fans of ‘Project Runway.’ In the meantime Lifetime will pursue all measures to uphold its valid and binding agreement reached with the Weinstein Company for Season 6 of ‘Project Runway’,” Lifetime said in a statement.

NBC Universal has to post a $20 million bond to enforce the injunction, but it was celebrating the ruling. “NBC Universal is pleased that the court granted our motion for a preliminary injunction against The Weinstein Company. The overwhelming evidence demonstrated that The Weinstein Company violated NBC Universal’s right of first refusal to future cycles of Project Runway. After hearing all of the evidence, the court issued an order prohibiting The Weinstein Company from taking the show or any spin-off to Lifetime,” NBC Universal said.

The action now moves to a higher court, where the Weinstein Company hopes to have the injunction thrown out. “We are glad that the court held that NBC Universal cannot exhibit the program on Bravo and that the court required NBC Universal to post a minimum $20 million bond. Obviously we will be appealing and remain committed to our partners,” the Weinstein Company said in its own statement.

Since the legal wrangling began in April, the people behind the hit show have been split apart. NBC Universal signed producers Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz of Magical Elves to an exclusive first look deal. Series hosts/judges Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn have contracts with the Weinstein Company.