NBCU Wants ‘Runway’ Suit To Revert To N.Y. Court


As part of the ongoing Project Runway saga, NBC Universal and Bravo Monday moved to have their breach-of-contract suit against The Weinstein Co. remanded from federal court back to a New York state court.

“Litigation is not a game where the parties can concoct legal theories and switch positions simply to shop for a judge who might rule in their favor,” NBCU said in its filing.  

The 32-page motion was filed with U.S. District Court Judge Richard Sullivan of the Southern District of New York, asking that NBCU’s suit be ordered back to the New York State Supreme Court, where it was originally filed in April

NBCU lodged its lawsuit after The Weinstein Co. struck a $200 million, five-year deal to move the Bravo reality-competition hit Project Runway to Lifetime Television. NBCU alleged that it was denied its right of first refusal on the show, a charge that The Weinstein Co. denies.

In October, Lifetime successfully moved to have NBCU’s lawsuit remanded from the state court to federal court, claiming the issue at dispute is federal copyright law, not contracts and the right of first refusal. NBCU Monday called the transfer of the case “a meritless detour into federal court.”

New York Supreme Court Judge Richard Lowe in September had issued a temporary injunction barring Project Runway’s move to Lifetime. 

“The reason for Lifetime’s related forum-shopping is clear,” NBCU said in its motion Monday. “Lifetime and The Weinstein Co. do not want to proceed before the Honorable Richard B. Lowe in the aftermath of his devastating 42-page written decision preliminarily enjoining The Weinstein Co. from licensing future seasons of the hit reality show Project Runway to Lifetime.”    

Lifetime filed to have the case sent to federal court on the same day as Lowe was scheduled to set an expedited trial on the matter in state court, according to NBCU’s filing Monday.

"Because NBCU's lawsuit raises issues arising out of the federal copyright laws, it should be heard by a federal court," the network said in a statement Tuesday. "We continue to believe that Lifetime's rights to Project Runway have priority over NBCU’s claimed right of first refusal on future cycles of Project Runway."

The Weinstein Co. couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.

Last week, The Weinstein Co. filed two actions in federal court regarding the Project Runway litigation. First, it filed a counterclaim alleging that Bravo and NBCU tried to sabotage the ratings for the fifth season of Project Runway, which completed its run on Bravo in July, its last stint there before moving to Lifetime. NBCU denied those charges.

Then last Friday, The Weinstein Co. filed a motion seeking to have Lowe’s temporary injunction vacated, claiming the order was unfairly giving Bravo time to launch a new fashion-competition show, called Fashion House