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'Project Runway' producers defend their decision to walk away from the show

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Projectrunway_l

Projectrunway_lLess than a month after Lifetime announced that it nabbed future seasons of Project Runway away from Bravo, NBC/Universal announced today that it has signed an exclusive first-look deal with Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz of Magical Elves, the production team responsible for the Heidi Klum-hosted fashion show. According to NBC, Cutforth and Lipsitz will walk away from Project Runway after season 5 (which will air on Bravo) and begin developing exclusively for all NBC-owned platforms. Lifetime will begin airing originals of Project Runway in season 6, under a deal it forged with Miramax Television. Magical Elves has been responsible for the award-winning Project Runway since its inception on Bravo, as well as Last Comic Standing, Treasure Hunters, Top Chef, and Step It Up and Dance.

“We didn’t have an issue with Project Runway going to Lifetime per se, and we’d both be surprised if it didn’t work for that network,” Cutforth tells EW.com. “When we started doing Project Runway five years ago, we weren’t really a production company. We were two producers taking work on a for-hire basis. But Project Runway became a huge part of our company and we are very much known for it.  We’ve been trying to grow our business and it doesn’t make much sense to keep on with it — as much as we love Project Runway.”

Adds Lipsitz, “Even though technically we didn’t create the show, we

created the `creative’ of the show. We gave the show its style and

emotional level. It’s not easy to walk away from it, by any means. All

big decisions are complicated and you have to make sacrifices. Our

emotional side is with Project Runway but our business side has to take over so we can build the company.”

The production duo will remain on Project Runway through season

five on Bravo before it jumps to Lifetime. Pre-production has already

begun on the next season, which will debut in June. “We’re excited

about the cast and are always looking for a balance of talent and

unforgettable characters,” says Cutforth. “I think one teaser I’ll give

is, you’ll never look at tanning beds the same way.”

As for watching season six once it moves to Lifetime without them, the

duo have their doubts. “It would be weird, like going to an

ex-girlfriend’s wedding,” says Cutforth. “We might go but we won’t be

dancing.”

Meanwhile, NBC/Universal hasn’t given up its fight to kill the Lifetime

deal. It filed a lawsuit alleging that the Weinstein Co. failed to give

the NBC-owned Bravo the right of first refusal when it got the offer

from Lifetime. NBC/Universal also is attempting to block Lifetime from

marketing and promoting future cycles of the show.

Adds Lipsitz, “Even though technically we didn’t create the show, wecreated the `creative’ of the show. We gave the show its style andemotional level. It’s not easy to walk away from it, by any means. Allbig decisions are complicated and you have to make sacrifices. Ouremotional side is with Project Runway but our business side has to take over so we can build the company.”

The production duo will remain on Project Runway through seasonfive on Bravo before it jumps to Lifetime. Pre-production has alreadybegun on the next season, which will debut in June. “We’re excitedabout the cast and are always looking for a balance of talent andunforgettable characters,” says Cutforth. “I think one teaser I’ll giveis, you’ll never look at tanning beds the same way.”

As for watching season six once it moves to Lifetime without them, theduo have their doubts. “It would be weird, like going to anex-girlfriend’s wedding,” says Cutforth. “We might go but we won’t bedancing.”

Meanwhile, NBC/Universal hasn’t given up its fight to kill the Lifetimedeal. It filed a lawsuit alleging that the Weinstein Co. failed to givethe NBC-owned Bravo the right of first refusal when it got the offerfrom Lifetime. NBC/Universal also is attempting to block Lifetime frommarketing and promoting future cycles of the show.