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Friday, July 18, 2008

Project Courtroom

The fur started hitting the fan yesterday in New York State Supreme Court as testimony began in NBC's lawsuit against The Weinstein Company over the Project Runway franchise. Interesting details have emerged as big dogs Jeff Zucker and Harvey Weinstein took to the stand:

Thursday's daylong hearing before Judge Richard Lowe in Manhattan featured testimony from Zucker, Weinstein and others on two motions, including a preliminary injunction request from NBC that would prevent Weinstein from moving the show to Lifetime before the case is fully tried. The second motion, from Weinstein, asks for a dismissal.

NBC appears to be hanging their case on a power meeting held in January 2007 at the Four Seasons in Los Angeles:

Zucker testified that during the meeting, he and (NBC's Marc)Graboff secured from Weinstein a verbal promise of a right of first refusal to match any offer that Weinstein received to move the program to a competing network.

In exchange, Zucker testified, NBC approved the accelerated scheduling of seasons four and five of the show and agreed to move the series off Bravo -- possibly to NBC or USA Network for season six and beyond.

The prospect of Project Runway moving over to the main network would have been exciting. Harvey had his own classy take on that meeting however:

Harvey Weinstein vigorously disputed Zucker's testimony however, declaring at one point, that, "I'd rather cut off my arm than give them a right of first refusal." He summed up the Jan. 15 meeting as a "divorce proceeding."

...Weinstein testified that he wanted to cut ties with Bravo after season three, because the network "ruined the relationship," by copying the Runway format with shows like Top Chef and Shear Genius, and refusing to pay increased license fees, forcing Weinstein to produce Runway at a $230,000 per episode deficit.

This one sounds worthy of Court TV! Read the whole thing.