‘Runway’ Suit Stays in N.Y.

The “Project Runway” dispute will remain in state court.

A district court judge ruled Tuesday that the case surrounding the future of the hit reality show will be tried New York State Supreme Court. In October, Lifetime had asked that the case be moved to federal court.

The network was not named as a defendant in the original breach-of-contract suit, filed by NBC Universal against “Project Runway” producer the Weinstein Co. in April when the latter made a surprise announcement that it was moving its hit show from NBC Uni’s Bravo to Lifetime.

Richard Sullivan, judge for the U.S. District Court, Southern District, of New York, wrote in Tuesday’s ruling that Lifetime “first sought to intervene in the state court action” in July.

“Lifetime chose to delay its intervention in the state court action for strategic considerations,” Sullivan wrote. “While Lifetime was perfectly entitled to adopt a strategy of waiting on the sidelines until it felt its position was strengthened by the recordation of its interests, it cannot now, having been unfavorably impacted by the state court’s ruling, avoid the consequences of its strategic decision.”

In a statement, NBC Universal said: “NBC Universal is pleased that the federal court has rejected Lifetime’s untimely procedural maneuvering to get NBC U’s ‘Project Runway’ case out of state court, where it has always belonged and will now rightfully return.”

Lifetime in November filed suit in Manhattan federal court against NBC Universal and Bravo Media, claiming Lifetime holds the copyrights to the show through its deal with TWC.

Said Lifetime: “While we believe that NBC U’s lawsuit should have remained in the federal court, we will press our copyright claims through our independent lawsuit against NBC U in the federal court, and if necessary, in the NBC U suit in New York State court. We look forward to this entire matter being resolved in an expeditious manner and remain hopeful that, in the end, Lifetime will be home to ‘Project Runway.’ “

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