'Project Runway' season in peril as lawyers argue injunction appeal

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'Project Runway' season in peril as lawyers argue injunction appeal

Wed Mar 25, 2009 @ 11:54PM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Projectrunway It's been a while since we last checked in with the battle over the fate of "Project Runway."

The last major development was New York State Judge Richard B. Lowe III granting NBC Universal's request of a preliminary injunction preventing "Runway's" announced move from Bravo to Lifetime. Afterwards, Lifetime intervened in the case and filed suit against NBC Universal, Bravo, and producer The Weinstein Co. claiming rights and alleging breach of contract.

Predictably, things stalled at that point, as "Runway" fans were teased with reports that producers taped the finale on February 20th at a Bryant Park fashion show and had the season ready to air--if the court ever gives them the chance.

Now, we've been told that the lawyers involved in the case — including heavies David Boies for TWC and Orin Snyder for NBC Universal — were back in court last week to argue an appeal of Judge Lowe's injunction. The decision could be forthcoming soon, and we'll continue to follow any new developments.

An opinion by the Manhattan Appellate Division could pave the way for the show's return. If the injunction is lifted, Lifetime will be free to show the unaired season (and presumably any subsequent seasons until a ruling on the merits of the case is issued). More likely, if the injunction is upheld, the news could provide an incentive for the parties to get together and work out a settlement.

Back in November, the two sides said they were not negotiating with each other and were preparing to bring the case to trial. However, when push comes to shove, major court decisions tend to spur settlement talks. Witness what happened in the recent case between Fox and Warner Bros. over "Watchmen," which settled after an unfavorable ruling for Warners and on the eve of a judge's decision about preventing the release.

Or look at what happened in the two-year, multimillion-dollar legal fight between two branches of the TV Academy over awards for broadband content. After the lawsuits, an injunction, and the denial of an appeal, New York-based National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and Los Angeles-based Academy of Television Arts & Sciences were able to come together on a truce

Who was the judge in the Emmys case? None other than Richard B. Lowe, the "Runway" judge. Will there be a twist of judicial fate or a settlement this time? As the poster above says, everyone's on pins and needles, and we'll continue to watch to see if the executives, lawyers, and judges can make it happen.

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The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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