- The Washington Times - Monday, August 24, 2009

‘Runway’ soars

One year, one lawsuit and one network later, “Project Runway” came back stronger than ever in its new home.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Thursday night’s sixth season premiere of “Runway” outperformed its Bravo peak, drawing 4.2 million viewers at 10 p.m. on Lifetime.

That’s an astounding 45 percent increase from season five’s “Runway” premiere on Bravo in July 2008 and marks the most-watched series premiere ever for “Runway” and Lifetime. In Lifetime’s key demographic of women 18 to 49, “Runway” drew a 3.2. Lifetime’s “Runway” spinoff series “Models of the Runway” (1.9 million viewers) also performed well at 11 p.m. Thursday.

The numbers should come as a relief to the beleaguered Weinstein Co., which sold the series to Lifetime after negotiations for renewal fell apart at Bravo. The network’s parent company NBC Universal sued Weinstein over the move, which delayed the premiere of season six and allowed Bravo to get a running start launching its own copycat series, the underwhelming “Fashion House,” which averaged about 1.2 million viewers this summer.

“We’re extremely happy,” said Andrea Wong, president and CEO of Lifetime. “This gives us a great beachhead in the unscripted space. ‘Runway’ is the No. 1 competition show on cable and has such huge cultural significance and certainly brings new viewers to Lifetime. It also gives us the opportunity to promote our other shows.”

“Runway’s” season 5 opener drew 2.9 million viewers. That was on par with the year before despite Bravo moving the show from its usual 10 p.m. perch to an earlier time period after news broke of the show’s defection to Lifetime. The strong boost on Lifetime is partly explained by looking at audience levels for the networks. During the second quarter, Lifetime was the 15th-most-watched cable network in prime time; Bravo was the 30th.

‘Octomom’ fizzles

The Octomom was no match for the performers on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” which was the top draw on an otherwise quiet Wednesday night in prime time, says the Hollywood Reporter.

According to national figures from Nielsen, the results show “America’s Got Talent” (with 10.67 million viewers overall) easily led the 9 p.m. hour and was the night’s No. 1 program despite showing some week-to-week erosion. The hot show may be slowing down some as it nears its finale, as Tuesday’s performance show was on the low side as well.

NBC was also solid enough at 8 p.m. with a recap episode of “Talent” and at 10 with a repeat of “Law and Order.”

On Fox, the two-hour documentary special “Octomom: The Incredible Unseen Footage” averaged 4.17 million viewers overall.

Leakes’ racy past

“Real Housewives of Atlanta” star NeNe Leakes may have called her autobiography “Never Make the Same Mistake Twice,” but she doesn’t think her most controversial job was a mistake at all.

“Yes, I was a stripper — let the judgments ensue,” she tells the New York Daily News about the details in the outrageous book. “I’m not ashamed.”

The sassy Miss Leakes adds that while she may have taken her clothes off for money back then, her past has no reflection on her present incarnation as an upper-crust Atlanta socialite.

Bravo’s “Real Housewives of Atlanta” airs Thursday evenings at 10.

“What difference does it make if I danced or not?” she asks. “Is the sun going to stop shining? Is my past taking food out of your mouth?”

According to the Daily News, Miss Leakes — who performed using the stage name Silk — says she “stripped for the sake of my son, and to restore my confidence in myself.”

“My son was in private school, his father wasn’t chipping in for pull-ups or food, I had no job and no money coming in, the rent was past due, and the super told me and my roommate that our condo owner was about to put us out. It was about survival.”

Cameron hawks 3-D

“Titanic” director James Cameron has signed on with Panasonic to promote new 3-D TVs.

Disclosed on Friday, the deal comes as Mr. Cameron and Twentieth Century Fox are aiming to break new ground with the release of “Avatar,” a movie shot entirely in 3-D, says the Hollywood Reporter.

At the same time, Panasonic is making a big push to get consumers excited about three-dimensional viewing in the home — excited enough to buy new flat-panel sets and new Blu-ray disc players. Consumers will have to wear special glasses to experience the 3-D effect.

Panasonic plans to start selling 3-D TVs next year, THR says. Rivals, including Sony, which has its own movie division, and Samsung Electronics of South Korea have shown prototypes and may offer similar products. It’s not clear how much 3-D TVs would cost.

The manufacturers also face a problem in that 3-D content is scarce. There’s also no agreement on a disc or broadcast format to bring the content to TV sets, although the industry group behind the Blu-ray disc may be close to finalizing a standard.

Several animation films already are being shown in theaters in 3-D, along with a handful of live-action movies. “Avatar,” set for release Dec. 18, will be the biggest major Hollywood film to premiere worldwide in both 2-D and 3-D.

“I believe 3-D is how we will experience movies, gaming and computing in the near future. 3-D is not something you watch. It’s a reality you feel you could step into,” Mr. Cameron said on video.

Panasonic is hoping its collaboration with Mr. Cameron will give its brand an edge as a 3-D leader and give the company ideas for technological improvements for home TVs, General Manager Masayuki Kozuka said.

“We want to get global interest rolling,” he told Associated Press. “For people to want to watch 3-D at home, the movie has to be a blockbuster.”

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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