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Project Runway Sews Up a Saboteur

Heidi Klum, Project Runway Bravo

The seams of Project Runway are unraveling at record pace.

In seasons past, the only allegations of sabotage to emerge from the hit reality series stemmed from the designers themselves. But the wannabe couturiers apparently have nothing on the cutthroat conniving taking place offscreen—at least judging by new court documents courtesy of the Weinstein Co.

In a 23-page counterclaim filed in New York Federal Court Friday, the series' production company accused Runway's lame-duck network, Bravo, of intentionally failing to properly promote the fifth season of the reality hit and is seeking unspecified damages as a result.

Can't they all just get along make it work?

Bob and Harvey Weinstein claim Bravo gave the latest run of the series the promotional shaft in an attempt to dwindle ratings before Runway jumped ship to Lifetime.

Among other fashion show faux pas, the Weinsteins claim Bravo undermined the ratings and overall value of the show by changing the series' airtime, running it an hour earlier in a slightly less prestigious slot, releasing spoilers about upcoming episodes, running a bare minimum number of ads hyping the new season—the siblings called what few ads that did run "mundane and unappealing"—and failing to provide adequate information to the press about the season premiere, thus making the show lose out on the all-important buildup buzz.

Per the court documents, Bravo didn't begin promoting the new season, which began July 16, until June 26.

"This 20-day notice was the shortest in Project Runway's history, providing a short amount of time...to promote the new season," the studio said.

The Weinsteins also claim that Bravo failed to update the show's page on its website, which in seasons past had included detailed biographies of both the designers and models to be featured on the show. This time around, contestant information was not posted until July 14, just two days before the season premiere.

For its part, Bravo's parent company, NBC Universal, roundly denied the claims.

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

True enough. The Oct. 15 fifth-season finale averaged 3.58 million viewers, though the Weinstein Co. claimed "this achievement was in spite of, and not a result of, Bravo's tactics."

The company also shot back at the studio's claims that they began production on a copycat Project Runway, dubbed Fashion House, after growing suspicious that P.R. might leave their airwaves. They say the show—which, as announced in July, follows fashion designers who compete against each other—is based on a U.K. show of the same name.

The Weinstein Co.'s counterclaim, lodged in U.S. District Court, was the latest response to a pending breach-of-contract suit NBCU first filed back in April.

Last month, the judge issued a temporary injunction barring the show from moving to Lifetime and transferring the case to federal court.

While season six of the show recently wrapped production, it could take up to a year before the new cycle begins airing—on any network.

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