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‘Project Runway’ lawsuit settled

Reality show to air on Lifetime this summer

After a yearlong legal battle, “Project Runway” is cleared to move to Lifetime, where it will bow in the summer.

NBC Universal, the Weinstein Co. and Lifetime jointly announced Wednesday that they’ve settled the litigation that has kept the hit reality competition series in limbo since September, when a Manhattan court placed an injunction on the show.

The delay in getting “Runway” on Lifetime’s lineup has had a big impact on the cabler’s programming plans during the past year, as it banked on its high-priced acquisition as a highly rated launching pad for other skeins. Viewership in primetime for Lifetime was down 12% in the first quarter year on year.

Lifetime can now count on some extra bounce to its sked in the coming months with the arrival of “Runway,” its spinoff series “The Models of the Runway,” the bow of the third season of original drama “Army Wives” and the debut of dramedy “Drop Dead Diva.”

Lifetime was not specific on a preem date for “Runway.”

For TWC, the settlement allows the company to move forward on the $150 million deal it cut with Lifetime last year for new seasons of “Runway”; the “Models” spinoff; and rights to a slew of Weinstein Co.-produced theatricals. In addition, Lifetime is developing another show with TWC, “Project Pygmalion.”

Under terms of a settlement, “Runway” producer the Weinstein Co. will pay NBC U an undisclosed amount to release its interests in “Runway,” which had previously been the highest-rated show on NBC U’s Bravo cabler.

“I want to personally congratulate (NBC U CEO) Jeff Zucker and NBC U on their success in the litigation and thank Jeff for resolving this in a professional manner,” said Harvey Weinstein, in a statement released by Lifetime. “We look forward to working together on our ongoing projects.”

The three-way legal fight between NBC U, Lifetime and TWC began in April 2008 when the Weinstein Co. struck its stealth deal to move the show to Lifetime after five cycles on Bravo. A few days later, NBC U filed a lawsuit against TWC, claiming it wasn’t given a fair chance to negotiate a renewal for the series.

In September, Weinstein was well into production on the sixth cycle of “Runway” — with a new production team — when a Manhattan superior court slapped an injunction on the show.

That scuttled Lifetime’s plan to debut season six of “Runway” in January along with spinoff “Models.”

In a statement issued Wednesday, Lifetime CEO Andrea Wong said the cabler was excited to bring viewers “an amazing all-new season of ‘Project Runway’ this summer.”

Bravo, meanwhile, plans to launch a competing fashion design skein. Cabler announced Wednesday that it will debut “The Fashion Show” in May; that will give Bravo a few months to establish its series before “Runway” begins its run on Lifetime with original episodes 10-months after Bravo last aired the series.

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