Heidi Tim

In a surprise development, Lifetime has confirmed that it won’t debut the sixth season of Project Runway until January so it has more time to promote the show that it swiped from Bravo last spring. It had been expected the show would debut on its new network sometime this autumn. “With this move, the series will resume its traditional cycle of two seasons per year,” according to a Lifetime spokeperson. “We look forward to ringing in the New Year by giving Project Runway loyal fans a superlative season six with Heidi, Tim, Nina, and Michael. The new date and time will be announced soon.”

The news comes as a lawsuit over the rights to Project Runway continues to wind its way through the New York courts. Bravo’s parent company, NBC/Universal, is alleging that the Weinstein Co. shopped Runway to Lifetime before giving its home network first refusal. NBC/Universal also is attempting to block Lifetime from marketing and promoting future cycles of the show.

One source familiar with the lawsuit believes the delay (the show had been set to debut sometime in late fall) has less to do with the ongoing litigation and more to do with Lifetime’s inability to get the production together for an autumn start. Bunim-Murray Productions, the company behind The Real World, is now producing Runway since Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz of Magical Elves left the show when it moved networks. A Lifetime insider, however, says production is on schedule and the new cycle has already been cast.