A+E Networks has scrapped its deal with the Weinstein Co. to air two additional seasons of “Project Runway” in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein, the distributor revealed in a court filing.
The Weinstein Co. owns “Project Runway” and its spinoffs, “Project Runway All Stars” and “Project Runway: Junior,” all of which run on A+E’s Lifetime channel. In 2016, Lifetime announced that “Project Runway” had been renewed for three additional seasons, of which only one has aired so far.
But the network unilaterally canceled the deal on Jan. 10, according to a filing Tuesday in the Weinstein Co. bankruptcy, arguing that Weinstein’s sexual misconduct constituted a breach of the agreement. Specifically, A+E alleged the Weinstein Co. had failed to operate a workplace within the bounds of the law, failed to notify A+E of potential legal claims, and failed to abide by A+E standards and practices. A+E also rescinded a separate licensing agreement for a “Project Runway” movie. Weinstein has been accused of using his connection to “Project Runway” and to the fashion industry to gain access to young models.
A+E Networks’ move leaves the show’s future in doubt. The popular series is one of the key assets of the Weinstein Co. bankruptcy estate, and the break with A+E Networks creates some uncertainty about its value. A+E would like to acquire the program, either through bankruptcy or after the sale of the Weinstein assets, and is said to be in negotiations with Lantern Capital over the future seasons. Lantern has bid $310 million, plus some debt assumption, for the bulk of the Weinstein assets.
In its motion, A+E said it first notified the Weinstein Co. of the breach on Nov. 1, a few weeks after the first reports of Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct.
A+E declined to comment beyond the court filing.
The producers of other titles have raised objections to including their projects in the bankruptcy estate. On Monday, the producers of the unreleased film “Hotel Mumbai,” said that they, too, had rescinded their deal with the Weinstein Co. after learning of the harassment claims, and that as a result, the Weinstein Co. has no right to distribute the film.
On Tuesday, Speedee Distribution filed an objection claiming that the Weinstein Co. is in breach of a settlement agreement arising from a dispute over “The Founder,” the 2016 biopic about McDonald’s mogul Ray Kroc, starring Michael Keaton. Speedee argues that the Weinstein Co. has no right to transfer its distribution rights to the film until it cures the breach.
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