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Bravo confirms 'Project Runway's fifth season to debut in July


By Christopher Rocchio and Steve Rogers, 04/15/2008 

Bravo has confirmed Project Runway's fifth season -- which is likely to be the final edition to air on the network -- will premiere in July.

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Last week, Lifetime Networks and Project Runway's The Weinstein Company production company announced a five-year deal to bring Project Runway -- Bravo's critically-acclaimed flagship series and cable's top-rated reality show -- to Lifetime beginning with its sixth season, which the network has scheduled for a November 2008 debut.

However Bravo's NBC Universal parent company countered by filing a lawsuit that claims NBC Universal still has "continuing legal rights related to Project Runway, including a right of first refusal to future cycles of the series" against The Weinstein Company.

The Weinstein Company countered NBC Universal's lawsuit by claiming NBC declined to compete for the rights to future Project Runway editions beyond the upcoming fifth season, to which the parties were already contracted.

With the exception of Project Runway's Summer 2006 third edition, Bravo has debuted all of Project Runway's previous editions in November or early December.  In its lawsuit NBC Universal alleged that The Weinstein Company had asked Bravo to debut the fifth season in July.

Project Runway's currently casting fifth season will see fashion guru Tim Gunn and lead judge Heidi Klum reprise their roles before moving with the show to Lifetime. 

While no mention of Project Runway judges Nina Garcia or Michael Kors were made in Bravo's fifth season announcement, a Bravo spokesperson told Reality TV World on Monday that the network expects Garcia to remain a judge despite her reported recent firing as Elle magazine's fashion director.

Garcia had initially been selected for Project Runway's judging panel due to the fact that Elle was a founding sponsor of the show, with each season's winner receiving an Elle photo spread as part of their prize package.

According to a Tuesday Women's Wear Daily report, Elle -- which had reportedly already been seeking to oust Garcia for some time -- had made the decision to axe Garcia based on an incorrect belief that last week's Lifetime announcement would result in Bravo deciding not to attempt to air a fifth Project Runway season (the last one covered under Elle's current sponsorship deal) in the relatively tight window before the show's sixth edition debuts on Lifetime in November.

However now that Bravo has made it clear that it still intends to move forward with Project Runway's fifth season, sources close to the show told Women's Wear Daily that given Elle will still be one of the edition's sponsors, Garcia's fifth-season participation likely depends on whether she agrees to accept a new offer to remain at Elle in a largely symbolic "editor at large" position. 

Should Garcia not agree to stay on as a Elle contributor, sources told Women's Wear Daily it will be "difficult" for her to remain on as a fifth-season judge.

Project Runway's recently concluded fourth season -- which was won by Christian Siriano -- averaged 3.883 million total viewers throughout its broadcast run.

(Photo credit Bravo)


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