GUESS WE’LL JUST WATCH THE RERUNS: There’s yet another snag in the dispute over the fate of “Project Runway.” On Friday, Lifetime weighed in, applying to move the case between the show’s producer The Weinstein Co. and Bravo owner NBC Universal to a federal court from New York State Supreme Court.
This story first appeared in the October 21, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“Lifetime [on Friday] 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.’”
Meanwhile, NBC Universal said, “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 11th hour move and intends to file legal papers seeking to remand the case to state court.” The hearing scheduled for Friday was canceled.
Lifetime’s move adds to the drama in the battle for the reality show. In April, NBC Universal filed a lawsuit against The Weinstein Co. for breach of contract after Weinstein said it was taking the program to Lifetime beginning with its sixth season. Lifetime, however, wasn’t named in the suit and hadn’t sought formal motions until Friday. In September, Judge Richard B. Lowe 3rd issued a preliminary injunction stopping the show or any spin-offs from moving to Lifetime. The Weinstein Co. filed an appeal shortly afterward. With Lifetime’s pushing the case to federal court, and with NBC Universal preparing to fight it, the case is going to become even more prolonged.
As the dispute gets murkier, it also makes it less likely a resolution between NBC and Weinstein will come in time for the show’s sixth season, which originally was set to air in January. There’s been speculation the show won’t air until next summer. A Lifetime spokeswoman said a schedule for the show has not been set.
Meanwhile, filming of the sixth season just wrapped in Los Angeles last week. According to press reports, expect guest judges Rebecca Romijn, Eva Longoria and Lindsay Lohan — but don’t expect to see much of regular judges Nina Garcia and Michael Kors. Sources close to the production say the two only make a handful of appearances, and that Garcia and Kors appear in even fewer episodes together. The show also had to use a stand-in for the real Los Angeles Mood Fabrics. The New York Garment District fabric shop that provides contestants with materials does have a West Coast outpost, but sources said the Los Angeles Mood Fabrics was an hour away from the shoot sites. So the crew filmed some of the scenes at a fake “Mood” storefront at a different shop. A spokesperson for Lifetime referred comment to The Weinstein Co., which declined comment on show details. — Stephanie D. Smith
OFF WITH HIS HEAD: There is no wrath like a British journalist scorned. Vanity Fair may have wrangled the exclusive on Nicky Haslam’s much-publicized bash in honor of his friend, art collector and socialite Janet de Botton, at his ancestral home in south London last Thursday, but the British press had a field day with the lavish affair. Having first built it up as being on par with Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball in 1966, the papers turned on the chameleonesque, social butterfly Haslam over the weekend. “While the rest of the world fretted about financial crises, the socialite Nicky Haslam threw open his family’s former south London palace on Thursday night to 800 of his ‘closest friends’ for a ball that resembled a scene out of ‘The Great Gatsby,’” wrote The Sunday Times in a story on the party. “Only hours earlier, billions of pounds had been wiped off world stock markets and banks were still staving off collapse. But for the great and good, the band played on.” It didn’t help matters that, despite the hype, the bash drew only the usual suspects in Haslam’s ever-widening circle — Paris Hilton, the Duchess of York, Vivienne Westwood, Manolo Blahnik, Bryan Ferry, Prince Pavlos and Marie Chantal of Greece, Bianca Jagger, Jasmine Guinness and Fiona Scarry. And Lucien Freud, one of the few surprises. Even some of the guests were not pleased once they were there. “You got the feeling it was just a pure media event,” one well-connected London social, who requested anonymity, said. “The party was a scrum.”
“The ball will go down in the annals because it was an example of over-the-top ubermarketing and it succeeded — as excess so often does,” wrote Rachel Johnson in her column in The Sunday Times. “Even at the party all anyone was talking about was the thing itself, who was there, who wasn’t there and why. There are no parties without a purpose. This one was given to be talked about. It reminds us that nothing — nothing — works any more without publicity and lots and lots of public relations.” She then described the scene: “The belle of the ball is greeting his guests like the Sun King at Versailles, only this era demands the media rather than creeping courtiers in constant attendance.” But it was The Daily Mail that summed it up best with a headline that ran on Oct. 16, before the gala: “Let them eat cake! Forget the recession….Tonight London will host a bash that would make Marie Antoinette blush.” — Nina Jones
OVER AND OUT: Marie O’Riordan, the editor of U.K. Marie Claire for the past seven years, has left the title, IPC Media said Monday. “After a long and happy stint on Marie Claire, I’m off to fresh woods,” the outgoing editor said. O’Riordan, who edited U.K. Elle before joining Marie Claire, will continue to work on the title until the end of the year. IPC didn’t say where O’Riordan was bound. A spokeswoman for IPC said the company hadn’t yet appointed a new editor and is in the process of recruiting for the role.
“Marie has been an inspiration to all of us,” said Jackie Newcombe, managing director of IPC Southbank. “Knowing her as I do, I can understand her desire to explore new opportunities and we wish her every success.” O’Riordan’s departure comes after the magazine has seen a drop in its circulation. In the six months to June, Marie Claire’s total circulation fell 4.8 percent to 316,765, compared with the same period last year. — N.J.