The relocation triggered bitter litigation. NBC Universal sued, charging that Bravo should have been allowed to try to match Lifetime’s offer for Project Runway. NBC Uni won an injunction that prevented Lifetime from putting the show on the channel. The matter was eventually settled, with TWC agreeing to pay NBC Uni a fee for the right to move the show to Lifetime.
It marks one of the first big moves for Lantern, whose bid to acquire the assets of TWC (which includes Project Runway), was approved by the Delaware bankruptcy court on May 8. The pact with Bravo is subject to Lantern closing that acquisition. It also allows the cable network to produce any Project Runway spinoffs it chooses to do so.
“Project Runway is coming back where it all started, it’s coming home on Bravo,” the network’s Andy Cohen announced during NBCUniversal’s upfront presentation in New York. Project Runway will be back on Bravo with its upcoming 17th season.
The long-running reality show was put into play in the wake of The Weinstein Company’s troubles.
A+E Television Networks, the parent company of Lifetime, revealed In bankruptcy court filing in April that the sexual harassment allegations raised against The Weinstein Co. co-founder Harvey Weinstein had prompted it to terminate its contract for the long-running fashion-themed reality series.
A+E said it had notified The Weinstein Co. last November that it was in breach of its contract regarding the reality series. A+E formally canceled the agreement on Jan. 10, effectively ending the network’s commitments to air future seasons of the show. Lifetime announced in 2016 that it had renewed Project Runway for three additional seasons. I had heard that that deal was very pricey and included an expansive movie package of lower-profile TWC movies that Lifetime was obligated to buy.
In a shocking move, after five highly-rated seasons on Bravo from 2004-2008, the hit series moved to Lifetime in a blockbuster deal between the cable network and TWC.
“We are beyond excited to reboot Project Runway at the network where it all began. Leaning into the creative process in an entertaining way has always been part of Bravo’s DNA, and ‘Project Runway’ perfectly captures that,” said Frances Berwick, President Lifestyle Networks, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment. “This franchise will be an important cornerstone to complement Bravo’s original premium scripted and unscripted slate, and we expect it to drive the same level of fan-dom and passion as we experienced last time it was on Bravo.”
There is no mention in Bravo’s announcement of Bunim-Murray, the production company that did the show during its Lifetime run. Project Runway was originally produced by Magical Elves when it was on Bravo, with TWC and Lifetime bringing in Burnim-Murray. I hear it is possible for Bunim-Murray to continue but that is considered unlikely.
“As we anticipate formally completing the acquisition process, the opportunity to return Project Runway to its original home at Bravo and foster a long-term and productive partnership with NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment is an exciting first step for Lantern Entertainment,” said Co-Presidents Andy Mitchell and Milos Brajovic. “We share Bravo’s enthusiasm to reinvigorate the series and are incredibly grateful for everyone who has had a hand in making Project Runway the flagship franchise that it is today.”
Bravo and Lantern have also agreed to develop other unscripted projects for Bravo and other networks in the NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment portfolio.