Bravo reality: Ratings solid without 'Runway'

Net downplays loss of flagship show

A day after Lifetime and Harvey Weinstein celebrated the network's acquisition of "Project Runway," Bravo executives shied away from discussing parent NBC Universal's lawsuit against the Weinstein Co. over the powerhouse reality series.

During Bravo's upfront presentation Tuesday in New York, Bravo Media president Lauren Zalaznick did refer to Weinstein's comments on Monday. Weinstein said that he would be in three years' servitude to NBC Uni CEO Jeff Zucker over the incident. Zalaznick mentioned it by way of saying Weinstein wasn't at the Bravo event.

"He's currently dropping Jeff Zucker's four kids off at school, and then he has to go clean Jeff's apartment and wash his windows, so he may not make it in time," she joked.

On Tuesday, the message may not have been "Who needs 'Project Runway'?" but Bravo wants the market to know that its success is more than just because of the reality series. Bravo has one more season of "Runway," which is now casting and will air in July before moving to Lifetime in November.

"Clearly this is not about one show," Zalaznick said. "It's a powerful media environment."

Bravo Media GM Frances Berwick touted 45% more hours of programming and 12 returning series plus three new ones. It also will launch a fourth night of original programming on Mondays.

The new shows, all reality, are "The Rachel Zoe Project," about a stylist to the stars; "Date My Ex," a dating competition starring former characters in "The Real Housewives of Orange County"; and "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," the third version of the Bravo franchise. Series in development include one about restaurateur Donatella Arpaia called "Donatella"; a group of professionals in the South Beach section of Miami with the working title "Miami Social"; and "Tabatha's Salon Takeover," starring a former contestant of "Shear Genius" designed to shape up salons.

Bravo said that its adults 18-49 ratings rose 38% and viewership increased 30% in the first quarter compared with a year ago; take "Runway" out of the mix and the network was still up. Twelve series in 2007 averaged more than 1 million viewers; six, including "Runway," averaged more than 1 million viewers in the first quarter.

On the digital side, Bravo Media on Tuesday launched, a movie site based on its