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December 18, 2014

How Tim Gunn made it work despite the skinflints at Bravo

by Allison Waldman, posted Jul 31st 2008 8:03AM
Timmy GunnYou knew when the Harvey Weinstein/NBC Universal case came to court over Project Runway that things were going to get testy. But the information that came out today -- that Tim Gunn wasn't paid a cent for the first season of Project Runway -- was a stunner. Testifying in New York State Supreme Court yesterday, executive producer Harvey Weinstein said that Tim Gunn received no salary in season one, and only $2,500 per episode in season two.

The whole reason for the court proceedings involves Project Runway running away from Bravo to Lifetime. The Weinstein Company wanted more money for the program -- one of Bravo's biggest hits -- and found Lifetime ready to pay big bucks.

Emblematic of this fight over money is the fact that Bravo, apparently, didn't think to reward Tim Gunn for his efforts in making the show a hit by giving him something after season one, and more than a token amount (in show biz money) in season two. Tim wasn't the only one who looked in vain for something from Bravo; Heidi Klum received flowers, but nothing more substantive.

Tim Gunn was ultimately given a chance to shine -- and cash in -- with Tim Gunn's Guide to Style on Bravo in 2007. Perhaps the network considered that a big enough pat on the back. Frankly, I think Tim Gunn is the most important element in Project Runway. He's the one who interacts with the designers/contestants, and he's the one who brings some humanity to the emotional fireworks.

In addition to his own show, Tim also took his Project Runway fame and made it work with a book, A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style, as well as becoming Liz Claiborne Inc.'s chief creative officer.

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