Lifetime wants 'Runway' suit heard in fed court

NBC Universal opposes 'eleventh-hour' move

Lifetime is hoping to move the "Project Runway" dispute to federal court.

The network is asking that the case surrounding the future of the hit reality show be tried in federal court rather than New York State Supreme Court.

The case stems from a breach-of-contract lawsuit filed in April by NBC Universal after the Weinstein Co. announced that it was moving the series from NBC Uni's cable network Bravo to Lifetime in a five-year deal, starting with its sixth season.

"Lifetime today removed the Project Runway lawsuit from state court to federal court," the network said. "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 NBCU's claimed right of first refusal on future cycles of Project Runway. "

Said NBC Uni: "Hours before the state court judge was to set a trial schedule, Lifetime chose to pursue legal maneuvers to shift the case to federal court, which will only delay the proceedings. NBC Universal will vigorously fight this eleventh-hour move and intends to file legal papers seeking to remand the case to state court."

Last month, Judge Richard Lowe III found that an unsigned 2003 license agreement between the producer and NBC was enforceable and that an amendment giving NBC the "right of first refusal" for additional seasons of the show as well as spinoffs did exist. The judge also denied the Weinstein Co.'s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

While Lifetime was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, the network was allowed to intervene, since it was directly affected by the court's temporary restraining order issued last month.

Weinstein Co. legal counsel did not return calls by press time.

"Runway" wrapped its fifth season Wednesday on Bravo.