Lifetime tries to move ‘Runway’ suit

Channel aims to take case to federal court

Lifetime is trying to move the litigation surrounding “Project Runway” to federal court.

The cabler filed the motion Friday afternoon, about two hours before lawyers for the Weinstein Co. and NBC Universal were to meet with a New York state Supreme Court judge to outline the next phase of the case. Late last month, that state court granted NBC U’s request for a preliminary injunction, stopping the Weinstein Co. from moving the reality series to Lifetime from NBC U-owned Bravo.

“Lifetime today removed the ‘Project Runway’ lawsuit from state court to federal court,” a Lifetime statement read. “We did this because any issue relating to Lifetime’s exclusive right to air future cycles of ‘Project Runway’ is a matter of federal copyright law and therefore should be heard by a federal court. We continue to believe that Lifetime has rights superior to NBC U’s claimed right of first refusal on future cycles of ‘Project Runway.’ ”

The injunction — which remains in place — allows the Weinstein Co. and Lifetime to continue production of season six of “Runway” in Los Angeles but prohibits the cabler from airing or promoting the show or any spinoffs. NBC U officials said they will contest Lifetime’s attempt to change the litigation’s venue to a federal jurisdiction.

“NBC Universal will vigorously fight this 11th-hour move and intends to file legal papers seeking to remand the case to state court,” a company statement said.

The litigation follows a $150 million pact made between the Weinstein Co. and Lifetime that would move the series, which just wrapped its fifth season on Bravo with record ratings.

In granting NBC U’s request for a preliminary injunction, New York Supreme Court judge Richard Lowe sided with the conglom’s argument that the Weinstein Co. violated its right of first refusal when it made its deal with Lifetime.