Project Runway Creatives Sign NBCU First-Look Pact

The creative team behind Project Runway has signed an exclusive overall first-look deal with NBC Universal, one that will prevent the show’s producers from following it to Lifetime this fall.

Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz of Magical Elves, the creators of the Bravo competition series Project Runway and Top Chef, have finalized a deal that will give NBC, Bravo, USA Network, Sci Fi Channel and Oxygen a first look at any creative projects the duo has in the works.

Per terms of the deal, the longtime NBCU collaborators will wrap the fifth season of Runway for Bravo this summer, but will not accompany the show when it moves to Lifetime in the fall. In other words, Lifetime now finds itself attached to a major franchise that no longer has a producer.

Last month, Lifetime out-bid NBCU for the rights to the Weinstein Co.’s Runway, plunking down an estimated $150 million for a five-year lease on the series. Lifetime plans to take the wraps off Runway’s sixth season in November.

In addition to the first-look agreement, Cutforth and Lipsitz will also be invited work on projects developed in-house by NBCU.

Although Magical Elves have made their bones in the unscripted series arena, developing hits like Runway, Top Chef, Last Comic Standing and Project Greenlight, the pact does not limit the team to the reality genre. “This deal represents amazing opportunities on multiple platforms, not just in unscripted television but in the scripted and digital spaces as well,” Lipsitz said.