‘Runway’ Dispute Resolved

NEW YORK NBC Universal has arrived at a resolution of its legal dispute with the Weinstein Co., reaching an out-of-court settlement with the Project Runway producer that will see the show move to Lifetime following a year of courthouse intrigue.

While terms of the deal were not disclosed, the Weinstein Co. will reimburse NBCU for the right to move Runway to Lifetime. On April 7, 2008, the production company announced a five-year deal that would relocate the show to Lifetime, beginning with season six. NBCU fired back with a lawsuit charging the Weinstein Co. with violating its contractual right to first refusal.

Lifetime had originally planned to begin airing its version of Runway in November 2008, but once it became apparent that the season finale would not coincide with New York’s Fashion Week, the network moved the debut forward to January. That target date came and went without a resolution, and the show missed a second cycle.

According to a statement released Wednesday afternoon by NBCU, “All [three] parties are pleased with the outcome.” Runway producer and Weinstein Co. co-chairman Harvey Weinstein added that he wished to “personally congratulate [NBC Universal president and CEO] Jeff Zucker and NBCU on their success in the litigation and thank Jeff for resolving this in a professional manner. We look forward to working together on our ongoing projects.”

Lifetime was predictably pleased with the result, saying that Runway will return to the airwaves this summer. “I couldn’t be more excited that Lifetime will bring its viewers an amazing, all-new season of Project Runway,” said Andrea Wong, president and CEO, Lifetime Networks. “Lifetime is the perfect home for this outstanding program as well as its companion series, Models of the Runway.”

The deal not only frees up the upcoming season of Runway, which was shot last fall in Los Angeles, but it will go a long way toward alleviating any hard feelings between Zucker and Weinstein, who will work together on the upcoming theatrical release of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds.

“We’re thrilled to be launching our relationship with Lifetime with this groundbreaking cable deal … And we are very excited about the continued growth of The Weinstein Co’s television division,” Weinstein said, in a statement released by his press office.

Source: Mediaweek.com