>> Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Season Five of Project Runway is one week away--did you know? Even if you're a fan, you could be forgiven for not realizing it. Sure, Bravo is probably running lots of teasers during commercial breaks, but honestly, Project Runway is the only Bravo show we watch, so we're not seeing any of those. In the meantime, we constantly check in over at Blogging Project Runway, our favorite in-season and off-season PR info source, for updates. Only, the updates on Season Five have been few and far between.
Why? Well, not for BPR's lack of trying. It's that Bravo, usually gung-ho to over-hype each new season like it's ESPN the week before the Super Bowl, has given us nary a word. We don't have pictures of the new contestants, we don't have names, we don't have bios. Last year at this time, I was handicapping the odds for each contestant. (And I got pretty close.) This year? Well, your guess is as good as mine.
Is Bravo smarting over losing Project Runway to Lifetime next season, and vowing not to put too much time and effort into the promotion of a show that's skipping town in four months? That seems a bit short-sighted and spiteful. Season Five is theirs, after all, and you would think they would like to milk PR for all the first-run ratings they can before it's gone.
Or is this an overreaction to last season being perhaps the most over-hyped season of Project Runway ever? Last season we heard--constantly, it seemed--that "this was the most talented group of designers ever." Was it? Debatable. But it was certainly not the most entertaining season of Project Runway ever. In terms of entertainment only, I would certainly rank it below Seasons Two and One (in that order), and possibly below Season Three. For this somewhat flavorless season we had contestant interviews and audition tapes posted to Bravotv.com before the first episode, and before every subsequent episode we had two--sometimes three--teaser videos with clips from the upcoming show. Even for the die-hard Project Runway fan, it was a bit of information overload. But to go cold turkey now seems like an extreme reaction, if that's the reason.
I suppose too there's always the time factor. Season Five is going to air less than a year--heck, less than six months!--after Season Four, and arguably that's short notice to get a publicity campaign into high gear. But is it? If Project Runway is your highest rated show (and I don't have numbers on that, but I have to think it's right up there) don't you make the time to promote it? At the very least, get some intern posting bios and pics to the web site? Yes, everyone watching Bravo shows is probably getting an overdose of those generic Project Runway teasers with Heidi scissor-walking on buttons and Tim crossing one arm over his chest and putting the other to his chin in a mock "This concerns me" pose. But for the rest of us, it's been radio silence--like Project Runway is the Red October and we're Jack Ryan trying to find it.
Perhaps I'm being naive here and not understanding how things work at major cable networks, but the information blackout surrounding Project Runway Season Five seems very mysterious to me. Regardless, we'll do what we can next week to preview Project Runway Season Five, Episode One! See you then.