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How Bravo is Sabotaging Project Runway

Sour grapes? Sour publicity

Ever since NBC Universal execs learned they would officially be losing Project Runway on Bravo, they've been working overtime to tear the brand apart. Why should they bother promoting a show that Harvey Weinstein ripped away from them to take to Lifetime, where he's set to bag a bigger payday from production and product placement fees?

At first, the negativity was subtle. Bravo execs kept quiet as they stole Runway's brilliant production team, Magical Elves, away from the show in an exclusive deal. And then the more obvious signs arrived.

Project Runway's fifth season, and the last for Bravo, premieres on Wednesday. And by the time it arrives, and certainly by the time it wraps, its varnish will be worn, damaged, or gone altogether.

So just how is Bravo systematically sabotaging the Project Runway brand?

• They aren't promoting it to critics. Screeners of the show's first few episodes, which have always gone out to reviewers ahead of time for advance write ups, were not distributed this year. That means there's almost nothing for television writers to preview, reducing what's usually blanket coverage of the show to critics sniping about not being able to review the show.

• An unscientific survey of Bravo's programming turns up what feels like a suspiciously minuscule amount of on-air plugging for the new season. Generally, a network will promote the crap out of one of its hit shows during commercial breaks in the weeks leading up to its premiere in an effort to generate buzz and ratings. Not this time. That Runway is even on Bravo's dial this season seems like an afterthought.

Tim Gunn has gone on record saying he's not thrilled with the direction the show is going. If you don't have the gays on board, you don't have any standing.

• Bravo refused to reveal much, if anything, about its fifth and last season ahead of time. The line up of contestants, usually made available weeks ahead of the premiere, debuted on only today.

• What else debuted on Bravo's website today? Round-ups of every single future episode, including what the challenge will be and which celebrity guest will be appearing. Even in the finale. This is a profoundly uncharacteristic move for Bravo. Previously, the details of each episode were held as close to Bravo's vest as a state secret would be to the CIA; the following week's celebrity judge would be the subject of endless speculation, gossip column plants, and on-air promo spots that cut away just before the identity was revealed. This is a complete about-face for Bravo's publicity plan and flies in the face of marketing logic. The icing on the cake? When you visit the episode recap page (spoiler alert!), the first synopsis, at the top of the page, is of the season's last episode, not the first. (To be sure, the recaps do not tell you which contestant is voted off. But they might as well.)

Comments (11)
No. 1 · Grace

So, basically, in order to show their displeasure at losing out on a deal they couldn't keep with a personality they can't control, they screwed the fans & the designers?

Greeeeeeat move, Bravo.

Posted: Jul 14, 2008 at 2:25 pm · @Reply · [Flag?]
No. 2 · Bill

The question I have is what fashion show are they going to have the finale at? Surely they weren't taping two seasons simultaneously so they could have them both at Bryant Park….

Posted: Jul 14, 2008 at 3:56 pm · @Reply · [Flag?]
No. 3 · grace

Good for Bravo.

Posted: Jul 14, 2008 at 4:26 pm · @Reply · [Flag?]
No. 4 · beyotch

Bravo seems really petty here.
Even if they lost the show & they are bitter about it, they can still bring in viewers with this last season, viewers who may see commercials for other Bravo shows. Seems like they are burning bridges.

Posted: Jul 14, 2008 at 4:38 pm · @Reply · [Flag?]
No. 5 · DavidDust

Bravo could always take revenge and steal some Susan Lucci/Meredith Baxter-Birney "women in distress" movies from Lifetime. Or Golden Girl re-runs.

Posted: Jul 14, 2008 at 5:27 pm · @Reply · [Flag?]
No. 6 · MTiffany

Project Runway is going to suck major brown starfish over at Lifetime, so Bravo doesn't need to sabotage Project Runway. PR's producers decision to move to Lifetime was sabotage enough. I mean for f*ck's sake… Lifetime?!

"Lifetime, television for idiots."

Posted: Jul 14, 2008 at 8:39 pm · @Reply · [Flag?]
No. 7 · GranDiva


Lifetime isn't going to have Golden Girls reruns anymore anyway; the syndication rights to GG episodes are going to MTV Networks, and I suspect that they'll end up on LOGO or some such.

Posted: Jul 15, 2008 at 2:04 am · @Reply · [Flag?]
No. 8 · GranDiva

Oops, forgot that Nick@Nite and TV Land are also MTV Networks…

Posted: Jul 15, 2008 at 2:41 am · @Reply · [Flag?]
No. 9 · angela

thx for the post!

I am submitting it to

Posted: Jul 16, 2008 at 7:45 pm · @Reply · [Flag?]
No. 10 · josh

Great job Bravo, Screw the Brand because you're bitter. So much for my respect for the company. I enjoyed alternating between PR and TopChef… oh well. Guess I'll just have to get to to Kathy and her D-list rejects re-runs instead. Ugh! Bravo might as well rename themselves to LOGO2 now and get it over with. I will follow the Brand to Lifetime and give them a seasons worth of a chance, and if they screw the pooch then auf with their channel. ;-)

Posted: Jul 18, 2008 at 6:35 pm · @Reply · [Flag?]
No. 11 · mockingbird

I never understood the "Runway to Lifetime" move as a good one. I mean, I love a "so-bad-its-good" Lifetime movie, and I (like the gays) love me some Golden Girls but Lifetime always has a musty, dusty grandma rep for me. I can't think Heidi would be happy about it, but you never know. As long as she gets her paycheck. Hopefully, Tim Gunn will continue with his show on Bravo and jump off of this sinking ship.
Plus now Sarah Jessica Parker/Magical Elves/Bravo have some Runway-esque show featuring artists creating, well, "art" every week? That sounds like the most creatively-stifling and contrived show ever.
And, BTW, Golden Girls rights got sold to Hallmark Channel, starting in March 2009. Yikes.

Posted: Jul 23, 2008 at 5:51 pm · @Reply · [Flag?]
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