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Weinstein Asks Federal Court to Lift Injunction Barring ‘Runway’ Move to Lifetime

11/01/2008 3:24 AM Eastern

The Weinstein Co. Friday asked a federal court to vacate a state judge’s preliminary injunction barring Project Runway’s move from Bravo to Lifetime Television, claiming the switch’s delay will permit Bravo to get its own new fashion-reality show ready.

The Weinstein Co. filed a 49-page complaint in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, seeking to dissolve the injunction issued Sept. 26 by New York Supreme Court Richard Lowe.

The move is the latest salvo in the ongoing legal battle between The Weinstein Co. and Bravo’s parent, NBC Universal, over the switch of Project Runway to Lifetime. NBCU filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit in April in the state court against The Weinstein Co. In its lawsuit, NBCU alleged that The Weinstein Co. violated its right of first refusal when it did a $200 million, five-year deal in February to move Project Runway to Lifetime for its sixth season.

After Lowe issued the preliminary injunction, Lifetime had NBCU’s suit moved to federal court where The Weinstein Co. is now asking for the injunction to be lifted.

On Friday, The Weinstein Co. charged that the preliminary injunction “was entered in contradiction to the undisputed facts and based on incorrect readings of law,” and that “there has been a dramatic change in circumstances.” Namely, that Bravo is planning to launch its own fashion-reality show, Fashion House. So Weinstein wants the injunction vacated.

The Weinstein Co. alleges that Bravo has “only now unveiled their intention to use the period while The Weinstein Co. is enjoined from airing Project Runway on Lifetime to produce, promote and potentially air their own fashion-design reality show, Fashion House, free of any competition from the established, but now preliminarily enjoined, Project Runway.”

According to The Weinstein Co.’s Friday filing, NBCU and Bravo’s “attempt to misuse the provisional shield of a preliminary injunction as an improper sword to drastically alter the status quo and gain an unjust competitive advantage over The Weinstein Co. and Lifetime warrants an order of this court dissolving and vacating the preliminary injunction.”

NBCU denied the allegations in The Weinstein Co.’s most recent legal papers.

"The recent filings by The Weinstein Co. and Lifetime are all part of a ploy to shop for a different forum after the State Supreme Court appropriately issued an injunction,” an NBCU spokeswoman said. “We will shortly be filing a motion to send the case back to that court, where it has been pending for many months and belongs."

Earlier in the week, The Weinstein Co. filed a counterclaim in federal court that accused Bravo of trying to sabotage and diminish Project Runway’s future value by failing to promote its fifth season—the last before it was slated to move to Lifetime—and changing its timeslot. NBCU and Bravo denied the charges.

In that counterclaim, The Weinstein Co. cited Fashion House, alleging that Bravo and its parent NBC Universal developed a series of "copycat" reality shows as potential competitors to Project Runway when it goes to Lifetime.

When NBCU sought the injunction, it argued that Project Runway was a unique show and it would suffer irreparable harm without it, according to The Weinstein Co.

“By developing another such Runway knockoff, using the same fashion-design theme as Project Runway, Bravo further undermines the argumentthat Project Runway is unique, and that its loss causes the plaintiffs, and more specifically NBCU, irreparable harm,” The Weinstein Co. said Friday. “To the contrary, plaintiffs development of Fashion House admits that Project Runway is replaceable.”

NBCU says that Fashion House is not a copy-cat of Project Runway, but rather that it’s based on British TV format and show of the same name. The U.K. Fashion House also predates Project Runway by a year.

Bravo announced plans to do Fashion House at the Television Critics Association tour July 20. In Fashion House, according to Bravo, "fashion designers again compete to create the best designs."

September