Imagine being on a cruise ship for a week, cut off from the outside world, then returning to be hit with the horrific news: Project Runway, The Greatest Show on Earth, has been sold to Lifetime by The Weinstein Company. Well, that was exactly what I experienced upon returning from vacation yesterday and reading that, as the NY Times reports, Heidi Klum explained away the switch by saying, "Fashion is about change and Project Runway moving to Lifetime is an awesome change." True, the show will most likely be felled by the lawsuit against Weinstein filed by NBC Universal (Bravo's parent company) for breach of contract, ensuring that the program never airs anywhere ever again — but if the show survives, it is destined to suffer a fate even worse: Being sandwiched between an encore performance of the made-for-TV movie Not Without My Daughter and a marathon of The Nanny.

Let me put it this way: "Television For Women" does not equal "Television For The Gays And The Folks Who Love The Gays And Folks Who Are Actually Just Inherently Interested In Design." Bravo has ingeniously marketed itself as the home of the thinking (wo)man's pop culture. It isn't just good bad TV, but plain ol' good TV. I challenge anyone to say the same about anything on Lifetime, without even the slightest hint of irony. Clearly, there is some audience for the saccharine froth being served up by the television equivalent of light FM, but it is not the Project Runway audience.

What's to come for The Greatest Show On Earth? Will there be competitions like "Design an outfit for a nice-girl-in-bad-circumstances using food stamps to purchase your supplies"? Or "Whip up an ensemble for a mother whose child has been kidnapped from her by her ex-husband and now has to take a covert flight to an unnamed Middle Eastern country to save her daughter" ? Will the Lifetimeization of Project Runway mean Heidi hosts while pregnant, except she will actually look bloated and matronly, thus tapping into the hearts of "real" women everywhere? Will Michael Kors cut back on the sass, exchanging his signature bitchy evaluations for crocodile tears? Will Nina stop giving verbal evaluations and saunter right over to the runway to hug the contestants? Can one be bitchy on Lifetime? Who knows, maybe the new network will allow for some cross-promotion: Can't you just see To ELLE And Back: The Nina Garcia Story as the next Lifetime Original Movie?

In Bed With 'Runway': A Lifetime Story [NYT]