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Two New York fashion designers sued Walt Disney Co., NBC Universal, supermodel Heidi Klum and others, claiming they originally developed the idea for what became the television show “Project Runway.” In a copyright lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court in the Southern District of New York, designers Cynthia Rodriguez and Elizabeth Marie Anne Zwiebach claim they provided a 40-page outline for a reality show they were interested in developing titled “American Runway” to Klum’s agents after first approaching the agents with the idea in July 2003. The designers claim they had previously registered and copyrighted the work with the Writer’s Guild of America in March 2003 and that “Project Runway” is “strikingly similar” to their idea. The first season of “Project Runway” aired on the Bravo channel, which is part of NBC Universal, from December 2004 to February 2005. The second season of the show is slated to premiere on Bravo this week. NBC Universal is a unit of General Electric Co. Defendants include Klum, Disney, Disney’s Miramax Film Corp. unit, Miramax founders Harvey and Robert Weinstein, their new venture Weinstein Co. and NBC Universal. Disney referred calls to its Miramax unit, while NBC Universal referred calls to Bravo. Spokespeople at Miramax and Bravo did not immediately return phone calls late Tuesday. A Weinstein Co. spokeswoman did not immediately have a comment late Tuesday. A representative for Klum could not immediately be located for comment on Tuesday. Last month, a man filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles claiming that in February 2003 he pitched a similar concept called “America’s Fashion Designer Search” to producers of “Project Greenlight,” a Miramax-developed program that also aired on Bravo. Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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