Project Runway ramping up for big changes

By Emily Morgan

May 10, 2008 at 12:55pm

Facing a possible change in producers and network, will Project Runway still be able to follow the show’s catch phrase and “make it work?”

By outbidding NBC Universal’s Bravo, Lifetime has gained the rights to the flagship reality TV show. After the fifth season, which will air on Bravo this summer, the series will move to Lifetime.

However, longtime Project Runway producers, Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz, of Magical Elves production company, will not be following the show they helped to create. The duo has signed an exclusive agreement with NBC Universal, the network that hosts other shows they produce, including Top Chef and Step It Up and Dance on Bravo and Last Comic Standing on NBC.

However, Lipsitz doesn’t specifically cite the move to Lifetime as the reason for their departure. She tells Entertainment Weekly, “We didn’t have an issue with Project Runway going to Lifetime per se, and we’d both be surprised if it didn’t work for that network.” Instead, she says the decision was necessary for the growth of her company.

In the face of the impending network shift, NBC Universal has filed suit to reclaim Project Runway for Bravo. The network claims the Weinstein Company, which owns the rights to the show, did not give Bravo the right to first-refusal before striking a deal with Lifetime. The suit also attempts to block Lifetime’s ability to market future seasons of Project Runway.

In other Project Runway news, New York Magazine reported rumors Thursday that Elle magazine will not renew its contract with the show after the fifth season airs. Elle currently partners with the show as the media outlet to showcase the collection of the show’s winning designer.

Reports say Marie Claire may be interested in replacing Elle. Both Marie Claire and Lifetime are owned by Hearst Corporation.

Nina Garcia, a Project Runway judge, was reported to have lost her position as fashion director at Elle. While Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn have signed contracts with NBC Universal, it is unknown if remaining judges Michael Kors and Nina Garcia will also move to Lifetime.

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