In Depth

Lifetime Upfront: The Weinstein Affair and New Shows

Film and TV producer Harvey Weinstein said that when his company’s show, “Project Runway,” moves to Lifetime away from Bravo, it will be the same … only better.

Speaking at an upfront press presentation for Lifetime in Manhattan Monday, Mr. Weinstein said that his company, The Weinstein Co., was working on at least two other shows for Lifetime.

One, “Project Pygmalion,” features a woman getting help from a team to achieve her dream. The other is a spinoff of “Project Runway,” shot from the perspective of the models who how off the designers’ clothes.

Mr. Weinstein said that Bravo, which airs “Project Runway” now, was not interested in the spinoff show.

When The Weinstein Co. last week announced plans to move the program to Lifetime later this year, Bravo’s parent, NBC Universal, filed suit in New York Supreme Court, asserting it had the right of first refusal on “Project Runway.”

Mr. Weinstein declined to comment on the suit, but insisted that he and NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker were best friends, and that after three years of cleaning his house and babysitting his kids, they would be best friends again.

Mr. Weinstein said the show was moving in order to grow its audience and that NBCU had been planning to move the program off of Bravo to a bigger cable channel or the broadcast network. Lifetime executives said that their network has more viewers and higher ratings than Bravo.

Lifetime also discussed other projects involving big personalities, notably public enemies Donald Trump and Rosie O’Donnell.

Mr. Trump’s project is a frothy Aaron Spelling-esque tale of desperate housewives in Trump Tower, according to Lifetime Entertainment President Susanne Daniels. The project was only recently agreed to and no writer or producer is yet assigned.

Ms. O’Donnell is executive producer of a movie in development for Lifetime called “America,” the story of 15-year-old boy by that name who is separated from his foster mother.

Lifetime also discussed a number of other scripted, reality and move project in various stages of development.

Ms. Daniels said that because of the success of off-network comedies “Reba” and “Will & Grace,” the network is working on comedies. It’s got pilots of “Libertyville,” starring Christine Ebersol as a mother re-entering the dating pool, and “Rita Rocks,” about a mom who dusts off her guitar and forms a garage band. Also in development is “Burnt Toast,” adapted from “Desperate Housewives” actress Teri Hatcher’s book.

Lifetime has its hit “Army Wives” returning in June. It wants to pick up another drama to run with it and has ordered pilots of an American version of the BBC show “Mistresses” and “Drop Dead Diva from executive producer Josh Berman.

Also in development are “The Department Store, “Chambermaid,” “The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard,” “The Skin I’m In” and “Trump Tower.”

On the reality front, Lifetime is bringing back “How to Look Good Naked” with Carson Kressley. While ratings for the show have been only so-so, it’s a good fit with the Lifetime brand,” Ms. Daniels said. The program returns in a new one-hour format.

Lifetime is not sure about bringing back “Your Mama Don’t Dance.”

Lifetime is developing new reality shows including: a dating show, “The Big Match,” featuring one woman picking from 100 guys, hosted by Cat Deeley; “Salsa and the City,” a docusoap following a group of salsa dancers hosted by Mario Lopez; “Cook Yourself Thin,” a cooking-lifestyle show; and “Total Knockout,” which pits celebrity stylists against each other in a makeover competition. Model Roshumba Williams hosts and Jonathan Antin of “Blowout” is one of the judges.

(Editor: Baumann)