Top Model Update: Tyra’s Statement to Paulina and a Look Back at ANTM Judges

May 20, 2009 • Lifestyle

Remember the good old days of America's Next Top Model? Think: the horrid, cable access-like set of the first season with the houseplants and Chicago native Adrienne not being able to pronounce the word "passion" without that nasal, Midwestern drawl. Luckily, Adrienne went on to become the series' first winner and the show went on to design much more elegant sets-just one of the various changes ANTM has seen in it's evolution over the past twelve seasons. Others include the different exotic locale they take the final five girls to each cycle, the recently adopted leniency in the height requirements of the contestants, and probably the most publicized inconsistency of the show-the judges!


Back in the days of Adrienne's dog collars and Yoanna's (second cycle winner) Hepburn-esque eyes, the judges were pretty much the same lineup: ANTM's creator and exec. producer Tyra Banks, British photog Nigel Barker, fashion stylist Nole Marin, and the self-proclaimed 'First Supermodel' Janice Dickinson. Well that worked well enough for the first few seasons, especially because the panel was humble enough back then to allow a guest judge to evaluate the girls in their area of expertise.

Fast forward to the fifth season-Janice is quietly dumped, having tried to create a Cowell-like Cruella Deville persona which she overacted more than necessary considering that's who she actually is. But her dry attempts at cutting the girls down got stale apparently because she was shown the door, as was Nole Marin who was the rather generic, dime a dozen fashion guy. Their replacements were Ms. J Alexander (emphasis on the Ms. considering he's a man), the show's saucy runway coach since the beginning, and lovable, slightly spacey fashion icon Twiggy Twiggy-2006-bfi-london-film-festival-stranger-than-fiction-premiere-0dByJw

As the proverbial halo to Dickinson's horns, Twiggy immediately filled the role of the softer, sweeter judge who always added a strength of each girl when describing a weakness. she became even more endearing during moments of trying to understand American phenomenon such as the dance style "Krumping" and the slang term "Jiggy". She added something new to the panel's dynamic, even if the viewers at home did have to shake their heads at the image of a British, white woman doing the "Cabbage Patch". This period also marked the end of the guest judge each    week. With the show's escalating success coupled with her new popular talk show, Tyra figured that she alone knew what was best.

Banks must have enjoyed the cooperative and, dare we say, obedient nature of lineup Twiggy, J. Alexander, and lifer judge Barker because they remained from cycles 5-10. Then a new girl came to town and all of a sudden Tyra's perfectly blended facade of the fierce, but loving matriarch judge was threatened. Former supermodel Paulina Porizkova joined the judging team as Twiggy moved on, leaving her cute and quirky imprint on the show. Porizkova possessed a little bit of each of her predecessors-Janice's vampish style (sans plastic surgery scars), Nole Marin's painfully honest critiques, and Twiggy's softer approachability. One would think she could have been a serious asset to the the longevity of the show. Maybe a bit too much. After to successful season on ANTM, Porzikova was axed last week without so much as a decent explanation. No one is very surprised-what with her rising popularity on the show, her position as the only other female judge alongside Tyra, and her ability to communicate with the contestants in a way no other judge before her has. Not even Tyra. Cue: the gloves coming off.

Following her dismissal, Porizkova went on the 'Late Late Show' with a very public commentary on why she was fired. "The reason I was told I was fired was because it seemed that America's Next Top Model has gotten too fat, and they needed to cut some fat, and the fat was me," she explained to host Craig Ferguson, later crediting her ego as the more probable cause. " (It was due to) my gigantic, huge ego. Which I wasn't aware of until I was told by the producers that I have an ego problem."  Interesting observation coming from a show run by one of the most seemingly arrogant women in the industry, which, in the modeling world that's saying quite  a lot. Perhaps there was only room enough for one inflated ego on the set of ANTM. Porizkova was very candid in her 'Access Hollywood' interview last week on how the two models never talked outside of the set and that Banks was too self-absorbed to notice anyone else around her. She discredited Banks being jealous as a reason for her recent dismissal. “I don’t think that in Tyra’s universe that’s even a consideration. I don’t think she cares.”

Well Tyra certainly cared to respond to Paulina's upset, even if it was a bit of a delayed reaction. According to, Tyra released a statement today to Access Hollywood in response to Porizkova's claims. What did the "Don't call me a Diva" diva have to say in her defense five whole days later? "The current state of the economy has forced shows to make major budget cuts industry wide. America's Next Top Model is not immune to these financially challenging times. We've had to make significant cuts in every area of the production and, unfortunately, Paulina was a casualty of these cuts." Oh right. The economy. Her producers went on to say that, "Tyra, who pursued Paulina to join the show as a judge multiple times, was incredibly saddened by the decision the show was forced to make. We really enjoyed working with Paulina, and we wish her all the best in her future endeavors."


Well I guess we will never fully know the cause of Paulina Porizkova's sudden departure from America's Next Top Model, a key player in the ever-growing history of the show's judges. Her story will, however, remain as one of the most scandalized surrounding the series. Up until now the show's drama has mostly involved finely tuned editing of cat fights between the girls, fainting spells, and makeover tantrums. Now, as ANTM gears up for it's thirteenth season, this real life controversy has upstaged all the prepackaged reality T.V. issues and it seems the girls coming into the house should just be thankful that they have Tyra as a role model. One that can provide guidance in coping with the real world. Perhaps she will design a new challenge on 'How to deal with competition for your job in a seemingly dignified manner so no one will ever find out.' After all, Tyra knows best.  

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-Alia Rajput

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