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Lawsuit Over, 'Runway' Is Cleared for Summer Flight

By Lisa de Moraes
Thursday, April 2, 2009

"Project Runway" lives! "Guiding Light" dies. That's life.

Everyone involved in the Great "Project Runway" Kerfuffle was tripping over each other yesterday to announce how happy they were that the lawsuit had been settled out of court, and the show would now go on -- Lifetime. Sometime this summer.

Much rejoicing erupted across the land. Okay, at least in this office. "Runway" fans, you see, have not had an original episode to watch since October.

"NBC Universal, The Weinstein Company and Lifetime have resolved their disputes," NBC Universal trumpeted in a news release.

The Weinstein Co., which produces the show, will pay NBCU an undisclosed sum to move the show to Disney-owned Lifetime, NBCU explained.

NBCU, which owns that sweet little chick cable network Bravo -- on the back of which "Runway" rose to fame -- had claimed that the Weinstein Co. transferred its TV jewel to the older, better-endowed chick network, Lifetime, without giving NBCU the chance to match the offer, per its contract.

NBCU claimed it had been in talks with the Weinstein Co. about keeping the show, though Weinstein wanted it moved from Bravo to another, bigger NBCU platform -- USA, perhaps, or even NBC. NBCU sued for breach of contract.

"All of the parties are pleased with the outcome," NBCU assured us all.

As part of the settlement, NBCU even got Harvey Weinstein to issue a statement personally congratulating NBC Universal president and CEO Jeff Zucker and the media conglom "on their success in the litigation."

Loosely translated: "You have bested me, sir! Huzzah!"

The Weinstein Co. also wants you to know it is "thrilled to be launching" its relationship with Lifetime, which also includes "Runway" spinoff "Models of the Runway," another reality project called "Project Pygmalion" and, as long as he's got us, a package of old Weinstein flicks to rerun.

Not to be left out, the president and CEO of Lifetime, Andrea Wong, revealed she "couldn't be more excited" that Lifetime will telecast the sixth edition of "Project Runway" this summer. That's surprising, since the delay cost her the centerpiece of her prime-time schedule last fall.

Coming full circle, yesterday morning Bravo announced details on its just-different-enough-to-pass-the-"Project Runway"-rip-off-test, "The Fashion Show," starring Isaac Mizrahi as Tim Gunn and Destiny's Child singer Kelly Rowland as Heidi Klum. Viewers will choose the ultimate winner on this show, and the winner's designs will be sold by a retailer.

* * *

"Guiding Light," the ancient CBS soap/Hollywood farm team that produced such luminaries as Calista Flockhart, Allison Janney, James Earl Jones, Cicely Tyson, Taye Diggs, Hayden Panettiere, Brittany Snow and, yes, even Kevin Bacon, is kaput -- the victim of, among other forces, too many real housewives.

Technically, "Guiding Light" is merely dead as a soap on CBS, which will bid it sayonara in September, having decided not to renew the show for the 2009-10 TV season. But Procter & Gamble, which produces the program, says it's looking to see whether it can move the show, which is so old it pre-dates television, to cable or even online, according to Brian Cahill, senior VP and managing director of the P&G division in charge of the show.

"Guiding Light," now in its 57th year on CBS, is the longest- running show in broadcast history. But it actually started as a 15-minute program on NBC Radio in January 1937.

"GL" is not the first daytime soap to get the hook. NBC, for instance, is down to just one ("Days of Our Lives"), having shed its other soaps over the past few years.

This season, "Guiding Light" is averaging just 2.2 million viewers, while another CBS soap, "The Bold and the Beautiful," is bagging nearly 4 million. CBS's game show "The Price Is Right" notches about 4.5 million fans and its most successful soap, "The Young and the Restless," more than 5 million.

In the late '80s -- just the other day in "GL" years -- the show averaged about 7 million viewers.

"GL," like the other soaps scrubbed before it, is the victim of its cost relative to its ratings and the preponderance of prime-time soap reruns across the daytime firmament. The daypart is lousy with reruns of MTV's "The Hills," Bravo's "Real Housewives of [fill in the blank]," Oxygen's "The Bad Girls Club," "Desperate Housewives" on Lifetime, whatevs.

Meanwhile, soap operas are maybe the most expensive way for a broadcast network to program daytime -- talk shows and game shows are much cheaper. CBS announced "GL" was a goner when word leaked out that it was looking at a game or talk show alternative for "GL's" time slot.

"GL" tried to bring down costs last year, adopting hand-held camera and a digital booth in which editing would happen almost simultaneous with taping, which had the added benefit of making the show look more like those "slick" reality soaps with which it was trying to compete.

* * *

This week's "American Idol" results night begins the way it always does: Judges blather, then there's a Group Lip-Sync, then the Ford music video, then a new feature is introduced: Idolette Impersonation. It's not friendly. Really. Danny Gokey's impression of Matt Giraud is actually cruel. "Idol" host Ryan Seacrest insists that this gang gets along the best of any Idolettes ever. Phew, because for a minute, we thought they did not.

Seacrest then divides the nine Idolettes into three batches onstage.

But before anything happens, reigning Idolette David Cook is back, to perform while the "Idol" camera keeps cutting to his mom (or his cougar or something). After his tune, two blond chicks lug a platinum record over to him, which totally threatens his cool. (Who gets platinum records anymore? What's a record?) He tries to recover by noting that the "album" he cut before doing the whole "Idol" thing sold 1,000 copies in a year and now his new "album" has sold a million copies in three months. (Still we ask: What's an album? What's a record industry?)

The first Idolette batch includes Megan Joy Corkrey, Matt Giraud and Kris Allen -- a.k.a. the Washing Wachine and Two White Socks. Kris the Mouse is safe. Matt is safe, but because Fox wants to be funny on April Fool's Day, Seacrest makes him think he's heading to one of the Seats of Shame, then marches him over to the Seats of Safety. Megan is sent to a Seat of Shame and begins to flap her arms and caw like a bird. Gorgeous Megan is maybe the most tragic Idolette ever -- just one image consultant and a good slap in the face were all that stood between her and an actual recording career.

The second group includes Adam Lambert, Lil Rounds and Allison Iraheta. Adam is safe; he's wearing his hair down, indicating a non-working day. Lil Rounds is the weakest by far of this group and she's brought back the nurse pants. But she played the Adorable Li'l Kid card the previous night and so has immunity. So Allison must suffer the consequences of having performed Tuesday dressed as a Troll doll. She tells Seacrest she had no idea the outfit, which the "Idol" judges mocked, looked that bad.

The third group: Scott MacIntyre, Danny Gokey and Anoop Desai. Danny's declared safe because viewers, like the judges, invoke the Gokey Pass for everything he does; he reacts by looking smug. Scott and Anoop are left hanging while Lady Gaga performs. (And they made fun of Allison's outfit?)

Post-Gaga, Anoop is declared the final member of this week's Bottom Three for having the previous night aspired to an R&B career, which we guess is what his lip curling was supposed to impart. If we suck in our cheeks and pout our lips, can we aspire to be Steven Tyler?

Seacrest was just kidding in re: Allison -- she's safe. Likewise Anoop, who will be much more humble next week. Megan's out and judge Simon Cowell tells her before she re-sings this week's tune that the judges have no intention of using the "save" card to keep her in the running. Megan takes the high road, thanks the judges. "Baby, I'm coming home," she says to her 2-year-old son at home. Finally she'll have time to sift through all those online marriage proposals.

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