Weinsteins strike back at Bravo over 'Runway'

Says network sabotaged promotion for Season 5

Bravo isn't the only one claiming it's been damaged by the decision to move "Project Runway" to Lifetime.

In papers filed Friday in federal court in New York, producer the Weinstein Co. claims Bravo intentionally refused to promote Season 5 of the reality series because of the move and is seeking unspecified damages.

TWC said some of the things Bravo did to sabotage the ratings and value of the show included changing the show's airtime; running a small number of ads; creating "mundane and unappealing" ads; providing little information for the press about the season premiere; and revealing spoilers about future episodes.

The company also alleges that when Bravo began to suspect that the show might move to a rival network, it created "copycat shows" based on the "Runway" format.

Bravo's parent company, NBC Universal, said in a statement: "Not only do we categorically disagree with the Weinstein's Co.'s assertions, but the fact is that Season 5 was the most-watched and highest-rated 'Project Runway' cycle ever."

NBC Uni sued TWC in New York Supreme Court in April after the producers announced "Runway" would move to Lifetime.

The network claimed TWC threatened to take future cycles of the show to another network if NBC Uni didn't agree to pay millions more to acquire a package that included TV rights to second-tier TWC films.

NBC Uni also claims TWC engaged in "sham negotiations" with the network after it had already inked a deal with Lifetime.

In late September, Judge Richard Lowe III put the future of "Runway's" sixth season up in the air when he ordered Lifetime and TWC to stop any promotion, marketing or airing of the reality competition show until the case was over.

Then, two weeks ago, Lifetime, which had not been a party to the lawsuit, intervened and successfully pushed for the case to move to federal court.

Lifetime claims its copyright interests in the series are superior to and pre-empt the rights of NBC Uni and Bravo, according to court papers filed Oct. 17 by Lifetime.

In its counterclaim, TWC points to programs such as "Top Chef," "Top Design," "Shear Genius," "Make Me a Supermodel" and "Tim Gunn's Guide to Style" as proof of Bravo copying the "Runway" format.

Among its promotional failures, TWC claims Bravo failed to update the series' Web site, which in past seasons had provided biographies of the designers and models weeks before the show premiered.

TWC also claims NBC wanted to "confuse the marketplace" over Season 5 by not including images of the new season in its ads and running "repeats like crazy" in "Runway" marathons.