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Project Runaway
April 22

“Project Runway” is the biggest show on Bravo right now, and for reality television aficionados, it’s more or less appointment television. Or at least that’s what pop culture vultures and competitive television reporters such as myself would have you believe.

Of course, I wouldn’t know of the phenomenon first hand, having only seen ONE episode. And even that was an off-broadcast rerun on NBC, Bravo’s broadcast sister.

If Lifetime gets its way, then that will soon change. The Weinstein Company, the production company that produces the hit series, has announced that the show will pull up stakes and move to the network for women.

Not soon after, those plans were put on hold as NBC Universal, parent company of Bravo, sued the Weinsteins to keep the show on its station. The suit alleges right of first refusal for the show that launched many a competition on the network, from “Top Chef” to the more recent “Step It Up & Dance”. Harvey Weinstein counters with a need to see the franchise grow.

My advice to NBC Universal... Let them have it. Even The Price is Right moved to ABC after a while.

Let’s go over a couple of things. First of all, Bravo is not the house that Project Runway built, as much as they’ll have you believe that. They have “Top Chef”. They have “Shear Genius.” They have “Top Design”. They have “Make Me a Supermodel”. They have “Step It Up...”. A loss of one show, albeit its most popular one, will not kill them.

Second, let’s go back to a running gag that often appears on WLTI. I live in Fayetteville, NC, the fourth largest metro in the state behind Charlotte Metrolina, the Research Triangle, and the Piedmont Triad. My cable system has many sports channels, an entire tier of Spanish networks, two channels devoted to baby-boomer-and-older programming, and a myriad of, erm, entertainment options for the adult viewer. But no Bravo. I either have to get a satellite dish or move up the road to Raleigh (and don’t get me wrong, I’d LOVE to move to the Raleigh area... preferably Chapel Hill. It would make getting a drink that much easier).

The point is that while most everyone with a cable box has Lifetime, not everyone has access to Bravo. This move can only serve to increase the audience of the show, especially if it’s slotted correctly.

So why all the fracas? Simple answer: holding onto a proven investment. Other than "Deal or No Deal" and whatever they have running on Thursday nights, NBC is falling on hard times, and "Runway" has proven a winner among their target audience of well-to-do alpha consumer women and their gay male friends. So it would make sense that they would want to hold onto a moneymaker. After all, it made stars out of host Heidi Klum and tough-as-nails critic Tim Gunn.

But like every good relationship, there comes a time where you have to let go. If it comes back, it was yours to begin with, but if you hold on too tightly, you're going to run the risk of having the show lose relevance in an ever-changing reality TV world.

Game Show Alphabet Redux

Going to “D” this week, and while it’s easy to just throw “Deal or No Deal” in because of its popularity these days, or “Double Dare” because, hey, what child of the 80s didn’t grow up on “Double Dare”, I’m going with a favorite that, in 1997, proved that a creatively staged trivia show could indeed work in this day and age. I’ll ignore that it was basically lower-scaled Jeopardy! for the first season, but it proved its kitsch factor as “the return of the game show” and inadvertently made Frank Nicotero a star... even though he wasn’t a host.


25 Days that Rocked the Game Show World: Day 17

One of game show’s early wunderkinds started out as merely a servant to another, but upon finding success for his house with three of television’s most treasured formats, the man with a way of words decided to strike out on his own.

September 3, 1965 - Bob Stewart Leaves Goodson-Todman

Born Robert Steinberg in Brooklyn, New York in 1920, Stewart first gained fame in the game show world for creating two new shows in 1956 for genre titans Mark Goodson and Bill Todman. The first was an idea he got while working at the TV station now known as WNBC. On November 26 of that year, “The Price is Right” was born on NBC. The show would air on all big three stations at one time or another. Little more than a month later, “To Tell the Truth”, Stewart’s second hit for Goodson-Todman, first hit the airwaves.

Five years later in 1961, Bob Stewart began carving his niche with the first airing of word-association game “Password”. Along with G-T staffers Frank Wayne, Chester Feldman, and Gil Fates, Stewart had earned Goodson’s respect not only for his creativity, but for his execution.

After the end of “Price’s” original run in 1965, Stewart left the firm and concentrated on his own production company, its first series being memory game “Eye Guess” in 1966 with longtime friend Bill Cullen at the helm. Further success would come with “The $10,000 Pyramid” in 1972, “Jackpot!” in 1974, and “Chain Reaction” in 1980.

Today, Stewart is enjoying the fruits of his labor as he watches his son Sande pick up where he left off as an innovator and a producer (notable productions include “Your Number’s Up”, “Inquizition”, “Hollywood Showdown”, and “Powerball Instant Millionaire”).

Chico Alexander has this as an e-mail address (You: Got it!