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Lifetime Wants 'Runway’ Case Moved

10/24/2008 8:00 PM Eastern

Lifetime Television wants to make a federal case out of the lawsuit that NBC Universal filed to block Project Runway’s move to the women’s network from Bravo.

Lifetime’s filing Oct. 17, in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, is the latest chapter in the ongoing legal battle over the future of the show, which just finished its fifth season as NBCU-owned Bravo’s signature hit reality show.

Lifetime asked that NBCU’s breach of contract suit, filed in April against producer The Weinstein Co. in New York State Supreme Court, be moved to the federal court. Lifetime has argued that the case involves copyright issues and therefore is the jurisdiction of a federal, not a state, court.

“We continue to believe that Lifetime has rights superior to NBCU’s claimed right of first refusal on future cycles of Project Runway,” Lifetime said in a statement. “Lifetime hopes this will allow a resolution so that our own fashion court — Heidi, Tim, Nina and Michael — can continue to render future verdicts on Project Runway.”

Last week, NBCU lawyers were working on legal papers to oppose having the media giant’s lawsuit moved to federal court.

“NBC Universal will vigorously fight this eleventh-hour move and intends to file legal papers seeking to remand the case to state court,” NBCU said in its prepared statement.

The Weinstein Co. and Lifetime forged a $200 million, five-year deal to move Project Runway to the women’s network from Bravo, prompting NBCU to sue Weinstein and claim the company had violated its right of first refusal.

On Sept. 26, New York State Supreme Court Judge Richard Lowe issued a preliminary injunction that blocked the show’s move to Lifetime, barring the women’s network from airing or promoting the reality-competition series.

The Weinstein Co., which declined to comment on Lifetime’s action to move the case to federal court, last week finished production of season six of Project Runway in Los Angeles. The season finale is slated to take place during Fashion Week next February in New York City.

Lifetime wasn’t named a defendant in NBCU’s lawsuit in April, but the women’s network filed papers — and won the right — to intervene in the case.

Project Runway finished a stellar fifth season Oct. 15 on Bravo, averaging 3.58 million viewers (its most ever) versus 3.29 million in season four.

The Oct. 15 finale, despite competing against the last presidential debate, was Bravo’s highest 9 p.m. telecast ever, with 4.8 million total viewers.

September