NBCU Wins Injunction in ‘Project Runway’ Dispute

NEW YORK New York State Supreme Court Judge Richard Lowe has granted NBC Universal a preliminary injunction that bars the Weinstein Co. from moving Project Runway from Bravo, owned by NBCU, to Lifetime next January.

The Weinstein Co. earlier this year struck a deal to move the show to Lifetime beginning with its sixth season. Originally, Lifetime had planned on debuting the show in November, but then moved the premiere to January 2009.

Shortly after Weinstein Co. confirmed its deal with Lifetime, NBCU sued, claiming that it had a right of first refusal to match any offer the producer received for the program. The network claimed Weinstein Co. was in breach of contract because it did not honor that first refusal agreement.

Sources familiar with the situation said that barring a possible settlement between the parties, it would appear that the soonest the show would move — if at all — would be after the case is fully tried.

In a statement, NBCU said it was “pleased that the court granted our motion for a preliminary injunction against the Weinstein Co. The overwhelming evidence demonstrated that the Weinstein Co. violated NBCU’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 Co. from taking the show or any spin-off to Lifetime.”

The Weinstein Co. late Friday issued this statement: “We are glad that the court held that NBCU cannot exhibit the program on Bravo and that court required NBCU to post a minimum $20 million bond. Obviously we will be appealing and remain committed to our partners.”

Lifetime said it would continue to press its case: “We are disappointed with the court’s decision to grant the preliminary injunction against the Weinstein Co. It’s unfortunate that the people hurt most by this ongoing dispute are the loyal fans of Project Runway. In the meantime, Lifetime will pursue all measures to uphold its valid and binding agreement reached with the Weinstein Co. for season six of Project Runway.”

The ruling comes two months after Judge Lowe convened a hearing on the issue. At that hearing, Jeff Zucker, president and CEO of NBCU, and Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of the Weinstein Co., offered colorful and conflicting testimony on the matter.