FACES IN THE CROWD: While flamboyant contestants and celebrity guest judges have added flair to past “Project Runway” finale shows at Bryant Park, the season six finale had little of it — largely due to the fact that the designers who made the looks strolling down the runway were kept under lock and key backstage. Because season six has yet to air, and won’t as long as the program is involved in a lawsuit between NBC Universal and “Project Runway” producers The Weinstein Co., the identities of the finalists were kept secret.
That meant muted enthusiasm from the crowd, a point even “Project Runway” host Heidi Klum acknowledged. “I’m a little bit sad for our designers that they don’t get that recognition today.” Klum held court in the front row with judges Michael Kors and Nina Garcia, who is now fashion director at Marie Claire, and guest judge Suzy Menkes, the fashion critic for the International Herald Tribune. The front row also included John Varvatos, Marie Claire publisher Susan Plagemann, and New York Observer owner Jared Kushner, who sat with his sister. A smattering of “Project Runway” alumni dotted the crowd, including season five winner Leanne Marshall and season one winner Jay McCarroll.
This story first appeared in the February 23, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
At least one person found the show’s anonymity a blessing. Christian Siriano, the season four winner who produced his first runway show the night before, said not knowing the designers beforehand allowed him to focus on the clothes and judge them on merit rather than the designer’s popularity. He hoped that would help edit less-talented designers from the competition. “Every year, there’s always a weed or two that manages to make it through ‘Project Runway’,” he said, without naming names. — S.D.S.
RDA DOWNGRADED AGAIN: Reader’s Digest Association fell several notches further into junk territory on Friday, when Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the company’s probability of default rating three notches to Caa3, from B3. The company’s senior subordinated note rating also fell to Ca from Caa2 and its senior secured credit rating dropped three notches to Caa2 from B2. Moody’s said $2.1 billion in debt is affected, noting “earnings erosion and covenant step downs” in June 2009 and June 2010 create a high probability of a restructuring to occur within the next 12 to 18 months. — Amy Wicks
REPLACEMENT FOR REALITY: While “Project Runway” sits in limbo, Bravo is eager to create more fashion-related reality shows. The cable network revealed its latest competition series on the same day as the season six finale show of “Project Runway” wrapped up. “The Fashion Show” will be a competition for the chance to have the winning designer’s clothes for sale at a major retail chain. Liz Claiborne creative director Isaac Mizrahi and former Destiny’s Child singer Kelly Rowland will be the hosts, and IMG’s Fern Mallis will be the judge. Mallis has already appeared on “Project Runway” as a guest judge. The program will air later this year. — S.D.S.
NO BOCA THIS YEAR: The annual American Magazine Conference has been canceled as a result of the economic climate and the growing woes of magazines. The three-day function, generally made up of speeches, panels and media boozing, was to be held in Boca Raton, Fla., in October. The Magazine Publishers of America will instead host a one-day innovation-focused event in New York on a date to be announced. Last year’s conference in San Francisco was already a lower-profile event, though the event did score a coup three years ago, when The New Yorker editor David Remnick interviewed onstage then-Sen. Barack Obama. The news of the cancellation was first reported on Mediaweek’s Web site Friday. — Irin Carmon