When it rains, it pours for Harvey Weinstein who should should really be producing “The Biggest Loser”. In NYC, Judge Richard B. Lowe III ordered that The Weinstein Co could not go through with its agreement with Lifetime and promote, market or show Project Runway or any spin-off in advance of an October 15th hearing. Under The Weinstein Co’s deal with Lifetime, the 6th season of Project Runway was supposed to premiere on that cable channel instead of NBC Uni’s Bravo as soon as November. Well, that’s certainly up in the air now!
Here’s NBC Universal Statement: “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.”
The Weinstein Company statement: “We are glad that the court held that NBC Universal cannot exhibit the program on Bravo and that court required NBC Universal to post a minimum $20 million bond. Obviously we will be appealing and remain committed to our partners.”
The decision followed a hearing on July 17th during which NBC Uni bigwigs Jeff Zucker, Marc Graboff and Jeff Gaspin testified, as well as Harvey Weinstein and his EVP of biz affairs Eric Roth. It followed accusations flying last April from NBC Universal that The Weinstein Co lied to Jeff Zucker and engaged in “deception” and “sham negotiations” over Project Runway. This instantly turned into a major showbiz feud — especially after Harvey Weinstein personally assured Jeff Zucker, “I will not embarrass you”.
NBC Universal’s lawsuit filed in New York Supreme Court against The Weinstein Company to block Project Runway‘s move. The Weinsteins have argued that NBC “declined to compete” for the right to air the #1 cable reality series. But NBC Universal said it retained a right of first refusal to future cycles of the series, which The Weinstein Company refused to honor. An NBC Uni source explained to me at the time that Zucker was in discussions with Harvey regarding Project Runway when all of a sudden the CEO found out that The Weinstein Co had signed the deal with Lifetime. So NBC Uni’s lawsuit accused The Weinstein Co of “deception” among other choice words and claimed NBC had the right of first refusal to acquire additional cycles of Project Runway, plus rights of first negotiation and first refusal with respect to spin-offs. NBC claims TWC didn’t honor those rights and “never intended to negotiate in good faith”.
According to the complaint, negotiations began in January 2007 at a meeting at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills between Weinstein, Zucker and entertainment lieutenant Marc Graboff. Weinstein reportedly threatened to take future cycles of Project Runway to a competitor unless NBC Uni agreed to pay big bucks to acquire the TV rights to a package of second-rate Winstein Co films. It was during this meeting that, according to the lawsuit, Harvey assured Jeff: “You can only have in your life five true friends and I consider you one of my five friends. And I’m telling you I will not embarrass you.” Only now Harvey is screwed…