'Runway' set for Canadian makeover


TORONTO -- Canadian broadcaster Alliance Atlantis Communications on Friday said it has acquired Canadian format rights for "Project Runway" from FremantleMedia Enterprises.

Toronto-based Alliance Atlantis said it also has recruited Toronto producer Insight Prods. to produce a homegrown version of the fashion designer reality series.

The move follows Alliance Atlantis already doing impressive numbers with the British "Project Catwalk" series and the U.S. version of "Project Runway," which stars Heidi Klum and airs on cable net Bravo.

Karen Gelbart, senior vp of content and lifestyle channels, said that "Project Runway Canada" will tentpole Slice, Alliance Atlantis' newly branded cable lifestyle channel, after going to air in the fall.

Fremantle and Insight first announced they would create a Canadian version of "Project Runway" in July 2006 as part of a first look deal between the Canadian producer and the European format producer.

The deal for "Project Runway Canada" was brokered by Gelbart for Alliance Atlantis, John Brunton for Insight Prods. and Lisa Honig, vp of program distribution North America for FremantleMedia Enterprises.

Insight Prods. also produces "Canadian Idol" for the CTV network on behalf of FremantleMedia, and has just finished shooting five episodes of "Deal or No Deal Canada" for Global Television as part of a deal with Endemol U.S. The Canadianized version of the Howie Mandel-hosted series will air on Global Television beginning Feb. 4.

By putting production control of an international format into Canadian hands, shows like "Canadian Idol" and "Project Runway Canada" comply with "Canadian content" regulations and can tap key domestic subsidies and broadcast license fees.

FremantleMedia Enterprises has sold the original U.S. version of "Project Runway" in more than 100 countries worldwide.

John Brunton, executive producer of "Project Runway Canada," said he's approaching international supermodels to possibly host the Canadian series.

At the same time, the Canadian series will feature all homegrown fashion designers and storylines.