Will 'Project Runway' Sashay Back to Bravo? Read the Full Injunction Decision in All Its Fabulous DetailFri Sep 26, 2008 @ 06:07PM PST
By Matthew Belloni
Pity the poor souls who stood within earshot of Harvey Weinstein today when he heard the news: NBC Universal convinced a New York judge to issue a preliminary injunction preventing the Weinstein Co. from taking its hit reality show "Project Runway" from NBCU-owned Bravo to Lifetime.
Judge Richard Lowe III based his ruling on an unsigned 2003 license agreement between TWC and NBCU and a later amendment giving NBCU the "right of first refusal" for additional seasons of the show as well as spinoffs. Lowe takes particular notice of Weinstein's, um, unique negotiation tactics, particularly his letting NBCU's Jeff Zucker think the show was still Bravo's to lose when Lifetime had already poached the show.
"He signed a deal with Lifetime on Feb. 2, 2008, yet led Zucker to believe that, although there were offers and negotiations, TWC had not signed a deal with another entity and that he (Weinstein) would make Zucker aware of any offers," Lowe continued. "NBCU was not notified of the Feb. 2, 2008, deal until it received a letter on April 7, 2008, from Lifetime advising it of their acquisitions of the rights to 'Project Runway.'"
Ouch. TWC claimed the deal with NBCU wasn't enforceable, an argument Lowe found "not credible:"
"TWC's attempts to argue the contract is not enforceable are not credible in light of their prior conduct which showed an intent to be bound by the agreement."
What's more striking is the level of detail in the decision, including Weinstein's apparent distaste for Bravo chief Lauren Zalaznick and the back-and-forth that led to the show's bombshell move from Bravo to Lifetime. It's all in the story.
NBCU must post a $20 million bond (down from the requested $200 million, which TWC claims is the potential lost revenue from disrupting the show's move), and a hearing was set for Oct 14, so this is far from over. And considering Weinstein hasn't made his reputation on backing down from a fight, we'd be surprised to see a quickie settlement.
NBCU is repped by Orin Snyder in Gibson Dunn's New York office.