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'Project Runway' producers won't follow show from Bravo to Lifetime


By Christopher Rocchio, 05/06/2008 

Project Runway is apparently moving to Lifetime without its long-running production company.

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Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz and their Magical Elves production company have confirmed they will not follow Project Runway to Lifetime after Bravo airs its fifth and final season of the reality series this summer, The Hollywood Reporter reported Monday.

Cutforth and Lipsitz' confirmation came on the same day that Bravo's NBC Universal parent company announced an exclusive first look development deal with the two producers and Magical Elves.  However Cutforth and Lipsitz told The Reporter their decision to leave Project Runway had nothing to do with the NBC Universal development deal.

"The two decisions were made independent of each other," Cutforth told The Reporter. "We have a long-standing relationship with NBC. While Runway has been wonderful for us and our company, it's not a show we own or have any control over. We found ourselves at a crossroads when we found out it wasn't going to be at Bravo."

In addition to Project Runway -- which Cutforth and Lipsitz have produced since the show's December 2004 first-season premiere -- Magical Elves also currently produces Bravo's Top Chef, Step It Up & Dance and Top Design reality series as well as NBC's Last Comic Standing for NBC Universal.  Sources told The Reporter that was a "key factor" in the production company's decision to not follow Runway to Lifetime.

Lifetime Networks and The Weinstein Company recently agreed to an unexpected five-year deal to bring Project Runway to Lifetime beginning with the reality series' sixth season -- which is scheduled to debut in November. 

While Lifetime president Susanne Daniels told The New York Post after the network's acquisition that Project Runway would look "exactly the same," it will now be without the show's original production company.

"They've been fantastic producers and we wish them well," a Weinstein Company spokesman told The Reporter.

In response to the Lifetime deal, NBC Universal had filed a lawsuit in New York Supreme Court against the Weinstein Company for violating Bravo's right of first refusal for Project Runway

On Monday NBC Universal also filed a request for preliminary injunction to prevent the Weinstein Company from marketing and promoting the show's Lifetime version, according to The Reporter.

Magical Elves' development deal provides NBC Universal's broadcast, cable (Bravo, Oxygen, Sci Fi and USA) digital and wireless properties an exclusive first look on all projects developed by Cutforth and Lipsitz as well as opportunities for the production company to work on projects developed by the NBC Universal properties.

Cutforth and Lipsitz told The Reporter that developing another fashion-focused reality series for Bravo is a possibility, but also added it would not be a "direct knock-off" of Project Runway.

"We love the world of fashion; we feel we have a lot more to give in that arena," Lipsitz told The Reporter. "It wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility for us to be developing something under our new deal."

(Photo credit Lifetime)


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