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What would you do to become America's Next Top Model? For one, you have to look the part. Then you have to sacrifice your being to a 24/7 commitment. More than that, you have to walk the walk and talk the talk.

But most of all, it's a game of surviving your roommates... all of whom want it just as bad as you do.

Recaps by Gordon Pepper, GSNN

January-March 2004, UPN
Tyra Banks
Judges: Tyra Banks, Janice Dickinson, Nigel Barker, Eric Nicholson
Creator: Tyra Banks
EP: Tyra Banks, Ken Mok
Packager: 10x10 Entertainment

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January 12, 2003

'One model is abandoned! One model is kicked off! and the rest get naked! All this in the first episode!!!'

THAT was the tag line to start off the first episode of The Next Top Model. Needless to say, I don't know what to think about this one - but it's a show, and it will have female nudity, so I will be obliged to cover it. =).

I will also be obliged to see Tyra Banks, who worked her butt off to be one of the top women in the modelling industry (and what a butt she has. Yowzers.). She talks about her days in the modelling field - and how she was successful in helping to select the first top model. We get a quick clip of Adrian Curry, last year's winner, who is now doing work for Revlon and other fashion competitions. But Fashion waits for no one, so we get 12 new women to preen, poke, make fun of and stare at them in various forms of undress.

The models meet up on the corner of Broad Street and Water Street on the mean streets of Manhattan. The first three women to get there are Xiomara (25, Morganville, NJ, African-American with a definite street-look going on), Anna (21, LaGrange, GA, short cropped brown/auburn hair, Southern belle, accent and all, with a 2 year old kid and husband that she left just to appear on the show) and Catie (18, Willnar, MN, medium-sized blonde hair, seems like o have the high school face - and naivete).

When they arrive on the corner, they are greeted by a bus with a 'rock star' interior, capped off with 3 vinyl couches and 2 big woofers. They bus stops at a second location and more women get on, like April (23, Miami Beach, Fl), who is surprised at Catie's determination to get out of high school early for this. APril comes from the other end - she quit her corporate business job and is looking to do this for fun. Yoanna (23, Jacksonville, Florida) is also as possessed as Catie, but for a different reason - she lost 50 pounds and is trying to make a statement for the larger sized women saying that they can make a difference. Xiomara is feeling out of place, as she is looking to have the 'alternative' look. I'm sure that we'll figure out more on that in the show...

Bethany (22, Houston, TX, blonde, Malibu body) is from the swimsuit world, since she has (in her words), 'I'm blonde and have bigger boobs - but I have a lot more talent than the boobs.' Shandi (21, Kansas City, MO, waif-like - think a cross between Wynona Rider and Lisa Loeb) was a mousy nerdy girl - now she's a mousy nerdy girl who works at Wal-Mart who is doing this to get some self-esteem. We have our feel-good story here, folks.

Bethany (who, with her attitude, is quickly positioning herself to be Bitch of the house) says that Shandi looks like a tall skinny bird. While Shandi seems least likely to win, Sara (22, seattle, WA) is already getting the women's eyes - and they think that she is the front-runner. She is doing this against her father, who equates modelling to prostitution. From what I'm hearing about what the women do, he may be right in a couple of episodes down the line...

Camille (25, Mamarondek, NY, African American, very skinny body) has already won a title of Miss Jamaica at a pageant - and she says that she's done some runway shows. Camille says that she can help people out and Bethany already calls her fake. Adding to the female testosterone will be Heather (18, Moreno Valley, CA) is another teenager who considers herself a fresh fish who will do anything to win this contest. We can already tell that Bethany and Heather will not be getting many 4th of July barbecue invitations.

Rounding out the women are Jenascia (21, Burien, WA, a skinnier J-Lo) who thinks that she is the shortest person here (but who thinks that she can beat out half of them) and Mercedes (22, Valencia, CA, Latina, frizzy hair) who is a rude child but the move to CA helped her. She did say that she could bare her claws if needed. Meow, meow, meow.

The bus drops the models-in-training off by the Intrepid, where they are greeted by the Marine Corps. Mercedes hopes that this is not a military exercise, Heather hopes that the women aren't going to live there, while Jenascia just wants something to eat.

Fortunately, the answer is none of the above, as they meet Tyra for the first time in the show - and they are also introduced to J. Alexander, who is a trainer for people who are on the runway. Unfortunately for the women, they will not be getting any training for their first competition - which is an ad lib runway walk - on a real airship runway. Their judges will not be any 'stuffy judges' - they will be judged based on the woofing of the fire fighters and armed personnel who are watching them on the carrier!

The women are escorted to the back. April is looking forward to the competition, while Jenascia is looking for food. The women have 30 minutes to get ready, apply their own make-up and hair, and to remember what order of the three dresses are - something that April forgets. Jenascia, however, is more than nice enough to help. 'I'm thinking that I owe her.' Jenascia's response? 'I'm not that nice of a person - I really don't know what came over me.' Nice. I would have just let her go on out there and get yelled at by Tyra.

I didn't need to do that - Tyra pretty much made fun of everybody. So did J. Alexander. 'Personally, I think you all sucked.' He reminds the women that modelling isn't easy, and that everyone has things that they need to improve on. For a reward of them to look like fools, the women get the keys to their real house - a 'bling bling, punk, funk, modern world' up there. The women are greeted by a sweet spread, divided into bling bling, punk, modern things, and a 60's retro landscape. Of course, it wouldn't be a model's house without a runway in the middle.

Sara 'I'm going to be living with a bunch of high-maintenance drama queens.' says Sara, but Anna is already cleaning up and she is the automatic den mother of the group. Cut to Anna talking to her son (AwwwwwBarf) and the segment ends with everyone diplomatically finding a place to sleep.

The models are awakened by Tyra, who tell them that she hand-picked all of the models. She wants all of them to be eating, breathing and sleeping to the point that if someone loses, they want to be thinking about what they are going to do with the rest of their life. She sounds like a Sorority mother who has gone a little bit over the edge - but to show her good side, she brings them all clothing and gives them all a reservation to a swanky restaurant. While at the restaurant, the women realize that there is no toilet paper - but Shandi fixes that problem by stealing the toilet paper. Camille is disgusted by that - and their bad eating manners.

While at dinner, the ladies get a message that they need to be up at 6am the next morning for their first photo shoot. April has decided that she will wake everyone up - and Jenascia thinks that is is very sweet of her.

Sure enough, 5:10 am, and April wakes up and she wakes up 10 of them women. Did I say 10, and not 11? That's because April misses someone - Jenascia, who is still sleeping, Oops. Mercedes says that isn't Jenascia's own fault for not getting up but it's April, who said that she would wake her up - and that who Jenascia helped at the run way competition, who should have returned the favor and who feels horrible.

So the now 11 women show up for the first photo shoot and they meet Nigel Barker. The theme is The Garden of Eden, and the outfits have been designed for them - but they will be nude, wearing nothing but jewelry and body paint. Xiomara, who is into the alternative look, is overjoyed, while Anna is looking like she'd rather be run over by a truck.

Nigel notices that Jenascia isn't there, and he orders a phone call to be placed to her. Meanwhile, the rest of them are grilled as to why they didn't get her. Sara, her roommate, says that it's not her job, while Shandi says that she thought they were all up. Jenascia gets the call, and she's hysterical. 'F#cking Bitches' says Jenascia as she gets ready to go, and you know that there will be fireworks once she arrives.

'Every Eve must have an Adam' says Nigel, as they are introduced to their male counterparts, who are also naked. At this point, a very upset Jenascia comes in and is comforted by Nigel. She is comforted by Nigel, who tells her to not be upset and to get ready. Of course, she is upset, and she is very pissed at all of the women - especially at April.

All of the women are posing - except for Anna, who changes her mind and decides not to do the pose. She can't be naked in front of anyone except her husband, she bails out of the nude body painting fashion shoot. Nigel tries to convince her to do it, but she says no. Nigel says that if she's not going to be a part of it, then she should go back to the pad, which she does.

In terms of the actual shoot, the women each get praise and criticism from Nigel, so it's not really easy to see who he likes and doesn't like. Jenascia doesn't like anyone, and she swears that if she makes the first cut, that it will be war when they all get back. A flash of Toni Ferrari from Paradise Hotel yelling 'Game On!' permeates my mind.

Anna is the first person back to the house - of course it wasn't by choice. She doesn't feel like it jeopardized her chances - but we'll see who it does as the women meet with the judges. It's going to come down to what is worse - coming late to a photo shoot or refusing to do one?

The judges are Janice Dickinson (who considers herself brutal), Eric Nicholson (who considers himself fair) and Nigel - who will be the permanent judge. What are the women competing for? A cosmetics campaign with Sephora, a contract with IMG Models and a spread in Jane Magazine. The women will be judged on natural talent, potential, personality, the ability to be versatile and the performance in the photo shoots.

After the individual sessions (which really doesn't reveal much of anything at this point), Tyra has 11 photos, which represent invitations to the next shoot. One of the women will be eliminated, and sure enough, Jenascia (the late woman) and Anna (the no-show) were the last 2 people. The last photo goes to.....Jenascia, which means, that ironically, the woman who didn't get a photo because of her refusal to do the shoot doesn't get a photo at all. The 11 women rejoice, but it's obvious that there is a storm cloud brewing over the horizon.

My Take? Much better than I thought it was going to be. Everything that was on the show was based on modeling. Even with the women getting naked, it led to a sweet photo shoot. Add a little self-imposed drama with Jenascia, this should be a fun ride. We'll see who will be having a little less fun next week.

January 19, 2004

Thanks to George Bush's state of the Union Address, this show gets moved to Wednesday - but Anna was probably hoping that this series go moved to hiatus. Well, unfortunately for her, it didn't, so she gets eliminated. Unfortunately for the other women, it wasn't Jenascia, who wants to destroy the other women because they let her oversleep.

She isn't the focus of the ire of the women, though - it's Camille, who has gotten on all of the women's nerves. She talks about how she works on a lot of the people's campaigns. 'I don't know where Camille comes from, and I don't really like Camille.' says Bethany, who is fed up with her.

But we have alliances as well, as Xiomara and Shandi help each other to get better. 'I did not come from Missouri and Wal-Marts to sit on my ass.' Shandi won't be sitting on her ass - unless a woman puts her there as the women go to a gym and take a boxing lesson. After all of the women's measurements are taken, with some people more happier than others. Camille is shocked that she was 124, while Yoanna lost 45 pounds. Bethany was complaining that her boobs were too big (poor baby), while the other women gripe about their own shortcomings.

There are no gripings when they meet J. Alexander at The SHow - except from J. Alexander, who is wearing a women's t-shirt and who has to say everything 3 times. They are also greeted by Supermodel Maggie Rizer, who walks out on the runway to show them how to walk. Some of the women do it better than others (like Heather, who falls), and J. comments for everyone, ranging from things that the women can't control (like Jenascia's height) to things that they can (heather opens her mouth like a fish). He is impressed with Camille, who has had a lot of experience in modelling. He was unimpressed with Yoanna, and he tells the women that she should stop moving her feet like a horse.

While the women are breaking out for lunch, Camille talks about that Yoanna's head dropped to the floor - and she cattily asks how Yoanna could be the next top model. While she was saying this, in through the door comes Yoanna. Oops. Camille says that if he has something to say to her, she will say it to her face, but Yoanna, who's not buying what Camille is selling, says that the last few times that she didn't say it to her face, and the claws come out. Camille accuses Yoanna of being jealous of her, and she finds consolation with Catie. If you're playing with me, it's like you're playing Lotto - the chances of you winning are one in a billion.'

The bitching is interrupted by a runway contest with a top fashion designer names Carmen Marc Valvo. Whoever does the best job gets to go to Marc's cocktail party and hang out - and possibly do some networking. He has picked out some gowns, and if the sizes are wrong, then they should just deal with it.

Marc goes after Yoanna for too much make-up - and that's not a good sign. He also thinks that Shandi isn't comfortable yet, Jenascia is too heavy, Camille is very good, Yoanna needs more self-confidence, Heather is twirling too much. Bethany looked really good - but has big bosoms. Bethany's response - 'I hope that people stop looking at my tits and start looking at my talent.'

Marc starts talking to Camille - and she gets very defensive, constantly interrupting him when he criticizes her. She has all of the talent in the world, but if she loses, the fact that she doesn't listen will be the main reason. She loses this competition because of that as Marc selects Catie. He also tells Catie to bring 2 people with her - and she picks her roommates - Mercedes - and Camille.

Well, THAT goes over just as well as a bowl of chocolate pudding in the room, and Yoanna tells Catie that Camille is manipulative and sneaky. That shocks Catie, who hasn't heard anything about this, and who doesn't want to be used by anybody, gets upset, and she wants to get to the bottom of it. She is happy with the new dresses given to her by Marc - and she wants to keep the letter written to her from Marc - which Camille is holding - and won't let go. That upsets Catie, who now keeps her eye on Camille...

...and she calls a meeting after another discussion with the rest of the group. The women let her have it, as they accuse her from everything from not taking criticism to having an abrasive and negative personality. It's also brought up that it should be Catie's moment because she won - and the rest of the girls are concerned that Camille will try to hog the spotlight. She takes it as well as can be expected, and then decides to get ready for the party. I have a feeling that we haven't heard the last of this...

While Yoanna retires and sleeps on the couch, Catie, Mercedes and Camille got to network. Camille did indeed do networking, but instead of sulking, both Catie and Mercedes saw what she did and took notes. That's a very smart move - a move that could work out very well from them in the future.

The other women are learning too, as Tyra comes over for a little one on one time with the women. She says that Shandi can do better with the walk, while she tells Bethany to suck it up and learn to work in the world where everyone will talk about her tits. She hears both sides of the Camille story from her and Yoanna, with Yoanna saying that she is going to stick it out, despite the negative energy - and that she wants to win.

The next step to winning is the women meeting with Jay Manuel, who is in charge of make-up. This time around, he tells them that they will be creating their own look - which means creating their own make-up. They will be selecting a choice of Steve Madden Shoes, then will do their own hair, make-up and dress, and then select one picture that they want in terms of image. Camille wants a moving image, while Shandi wants to improve her self-esteem. That she has done, but as Jay says, 'I think that Shandi can benefit from a make-up lesson. Bethany, who's concerned about her breasts, has a problem with picking a picture that doesn't expose her breasts - but she makes a choice after being prodded by Jay. Jenascia is dealing with her height - 'I'm going to be short, get over it.' Yoanna wants to make sure that she outlasts Camille. Meow.

The judges are the traditional 3 - and J. Alexander is the special judge. J. adds to the fun by having each of them go down a mock runway for their review. Bethany - The walk was too fast, but she picked the same picture that the experts picked. She needed to flaunt herself out more. Shandi - they say that Shandi picked a rotten pic of her. April - they wanted to see her pic. Heather - the facial expression was too sultry. Sarah - way too much jiggle - J. 'Give her a chair and a gold pole' OUCH!. Mercedes had a nice walk - but she needed to extend her neck. Jenascia's walk was panned - and she picked the wrong photo.

Xiomara, according to J. 'Girl, you walk like you were on walked like you were possessed.' - but she did pick the right photo. Catie did a nice walk - but in the pic, 'you look like a pretzel' and she picked the wrong pic. Camille got the highest marks - and everyone was impressed. Yoanna gets an A+ from the walk, and Camille stares daggers at her. She did select the wrong pic though, so she loses points.

According to the judges, IN - Camille, Yoanna, Mercedes, April, Catie, Sarah, BUBBLE - Shandi, Jenascia, Heather, Bethany, Xiomara.

Tyra has the application, and she gives them out, in order, to Catie, Yoanna, Camille, April, Mercedes, Sara, Xiomara, Heather and Jenascia. That leaves Shandi and Bethany. Shandi has massive problems with the walk, but Bethany has big boobs - but what's even worse is that she has the attitude that everyone is going to pick on her because of it. That seems to be the deciding point and a frustrated Bethany is eliminated.

Did they make the right choice? I don't think so this time. The contest should be based on how well you have learned the lessons - and if that was the case, then Shandi should have been gone. This time around, they went for the attitude and the physicality, and I frankly believe that Bethany got a raw deal.

Did the judges make the right choice? Or are they only postponing Shandi's exit by an episode? We'll find out next week.

January 26, 2004

Shandi is getting nervous, because her walk was awful. She realizes that she needs to do better and harder in order to succeed. She is being scoffed at by Sara, who calls her an 'ugly girl'. Catie is referred to as 'Attention-seeking' by Camille, who is the queen of attention seeking, while Catie says that the woman are not sociable. These are the snipings that we get to start the episode, which looks like it will be a cat session.

Depressed, Catie calls her mom, who doubles as her best friend. Mom tells her to not give up and to try the best that she can. Trying hard will be sooner rather than later, as the women visit a hair salon for their next competition. The women are going to get a new makeover with their hair and they'll be getting a new look, including nails, hair, face, and whitening of teeth. Jay Manuel thinks the women, as they are now, will be arrested by the fashion police.

Catie and Jenascia are getting some hair cut off, while Mercedes is getting extensions and Xiomara is getting wavy and wild hair. Camille's braids are history and Sara is going to be blonde. Yoanna is getting the mohawk treatment and April 's hair is getting darker. Shandi is going to be a platinum blonde - and contacts. just going to be a little more blonde - which bothers her because she is not getting as much done with her than the rest of the girls. If you noticed last week, she was one of the girls on the bubble. Is that foreshadowing that she's the next to go?

She's not the only ne to not be happy. Jenascia is accusing them of playing the short card again, while Catie is not thrilled with having short hair. 'I feel bald'. The rest of the women just think that she's being immature - and Jenascia is accusing Catie of crying for the camera. 'She told me that she can cry at the drop of a hat.' We'll look at this later on for this episode. When the changes are done, Heather really isn't happy, because she doesn't see much of a change and she is concerned that the judges don't feel that she could change.

At least she is in better spirits than Catie, who is bawling up a storm on the hair chair. She bawls even more to her boyfriend, who says that she has to do what she has to do. She accepts it and she can move on - but not before she has a microscopic lunch. Yoanna offers her some of her food, and Catie is happy that Yoanna cares. We'll see how long that lasts...

The next day, they go to Jay Manuel, who shows pictures of Tyra before and after photos. The women have 15 minutes to get ready - and there's only one mirror and one set of brushes. The winner receives a dinner with 3 mystery guests - and everyone else has to serve the dinner. Jay tells them that it isn't a sorority and that they have to show the hunger. Translation from Jay - let's see if we can add some more drama to this event.

Camille gets to the mirror first - and of course, she takes up as much space as possible. The women run in a free-for-all and we get the usual griping. Jay tells everyone their strengths and weaknesses and tells them that none of them was perfect. The winner was...Yoanna, who can pick 3 guests. Well we know who she's not picking - Camille - but she picks Sara, Xiomamra and...April. Catie isn't picked, which we can see her smoldering - but the person who is really steamed is Heather, who is upset that Yoanna looked straight at her and called out April's name.

They'll soon be screaming out Shandi's name - but for the wrong reason as the studio gets too hot and she passes out on the floor. Her sugar level is low and she needs more food. Everyone is happy that Shandi is ok, and Catie goes back to the phone - only to be interrupted by the fact that they have to make dinner.

Yoanna is pleased that Camille has to make dinner for her. She'll be even more pleased when she sees the guests - the nude male models from the ING agency. They are learning from the male models about the industry. Meanwhile in the kitchen, things heat up as Yoanna calls Catie 'Twiggy', and wants her to serve them food. Catie uses Camille's food from the next day to use as salad. Oops. Camille goes after her, and Catie tells her to chill out. While out to get food, Catie talks to and bonds with Heather, as they are both 19 years old and they seem to get a bond going.

It's Tyra mail time! They get an ominous note which asks the women what they are afraid of. 'Fear is an emotion that's a complete waste of time' says Heather, but will they change their tune when they walk into an abandoned building with dead birds everywhere? Jay brings the models to a ledge, with a huge hole which spans a couple of hundred feet worth of depth. For the next fashion shoot, the models will be hanging OVER the hole. The models would probably prefer to be naked in a Fear Factor animal slime stunt right about now.

Some of the models had no problem with the shoot - like April and Shandi. Sara was a problem to work with, as was Yoanna. Meanwhile, Catie is now on her cell phone, as she's talking to her dad and trying to convince herself to get on this shoot. Heather, who may subliminally be on the bubble was struggling, as was Jenascia, who was definitely on the bubble. They liked Mercedes, but Camille was having a problem with the stunt. Catie is next -but she didn't want to do it, so Xiomara decides to go up next. Jay explains to Catie that Xiomara has no fear - and while Xiomara's shoot isn't the best thing that we've seen, she understands that Catie was a distraction.

Catie is still hesitant about doing the shoot - and she is thinking about pulling an Anna and pulling out of the competition. If she does that, she's as good as gone, so she decides to do it. She gets through it ok, and she gets support from everyone, and there is much joy and love. AwwwwBarf.

There will not be much love this week, as Jay Manuel is the guest judge. Jay tells the women that they need to have a make up style set on the 50's glam, 60's mod, 80's punk, goth, or futuristic.

Shandi starts - and the goth women has completely changed her look and she could be a player. They don't like her make-up, but the pic for Yoanna was nice. They like Mercedes for the most part. With Heather, they like her make-up, but they didn't like the fact that they could only find a good pic of her. They love Sara's look, and Jenascia is also more improved according to the judges. Camille looks a little too Halloween for the judges and they don't like her pic. They love April's futuristic mode and they love her pic.

They trash Xiomara's make-up choice - and they hate her pic with her mouth agape, called the pic rotten. Xiomara says that she didn't get any time because Jay was comforting Catie, but the judges say that its her responsibility to get the time and Tyra eludes that Catie's pic was probably better. It is, and Xiomara is staring daggers at Catie.

After the judges do their thing, Catie then starts to cry and feels faint. She is attended, but Xiomara knows that if she gets a second chance, that she will be going after the 18 year old. So much for Catie being nice to everyone...

According to the judges - IN - April, Mercedes, Yoanna, Shandi, PROBABLY IN - Sara, Camille, BUBBLE - Catie, Xiomara, Heather, Jenascia. As you can see, Shandi really improved her stock this week, while Catie did not do herself any favors. Who did get in? Shandi, April, Yoanna, Mercedes, Sara, Camille, Jensacia, and Catie - which leaves Xiomara and Heather. Xiomara will get a second chance, as Heather is eliminated. She thinks that she got a bad deal, 'One man's trash is another man's treasure, and I'll be someone's treasure somewhere else.'

My take? This is starting to reek. If these women are getting eliminated because of their physical aspects - then shouldn't they not have been allowed on the show to begin with? The game should be based on how well they can listen and be a model - yet we have 2 people who are being knocked out not because they can't do the modelling assignments - but because of physical things that they should either not be judged for or should have been knocked out of the box and off of the show on earlier.

It really feels like some people are getting preferential treatment and others are not being treated fairly. It seemed like Heather got targeted and she was going off, regardless of how bad everyone else did, Xiomara or Camille, who both had worse shoots, should have been gone. If you want to get Jenascia off because of the attitude, fine - but because of her height? Then she should have never been on the show if she has an unfair disadvantage to start up the show. If she does get knocked off because of that, then I will be a very unhappy camper.

Next week - the kid gloves are off and Catie's world gets rocked. We'll find out on Tuesday how hard.

February 3, 2004

On the last show, Xiomara was THIS close to getting booted - and she is pissed. She's not pissed at the judges, though - she's pissed at herself. 'I will never allow that to happen again - never.' as she vows to improve. Jenascia has problems because she is short, but she's going to try to improvise on that. Mercedes has her own problems - her hair has been falling out because she has Lupus. Out of the three people, I would think that Mercedes has the toughest road to travel.

'It's not a Sorority. I'm not here to be friends with anyone. The point is - WIN.' That comes from Camille, who feels a little slighted as everyone gets into the elevator that goes down to the street - except her. Who shares the same win-at-all-costs mentality? Martin Snow, who is a personal trainer at a gym that the girls are going to. 'This isn't the Waitress of the Year competition, it's the Top Model Competition.'

Martin will whip them into shape via boxing - the women will punch big boxing bags. The last woman standing wins. This competition comes down to the Athletic April and the woman with a grudge Camille. What's fueling Camille? The fact that all of the girls are yelling for April to win. You don't think that the women like Camille do you? After punching to a draw, they have a tie-breaker in the form of whoever can do the most pushups without quitting. The winner is...April. Camille sees that not a lot of people like her over April, and she is just sucking her bottom lip as she stands in a boxers pose. More drama, anyone?

After the workout, the women meet Simon Doonan, who is an expert in Window Dressing. No, not the shades on the windows - model window dressing. Tyra tells the women that she has been on the best and worst dressed list - and she talks about her being on the worst dressed list, because the girls need to learn about how to not make Tyra's mistakes. The worst outfit? A wedding dress - in PURPLE! Tyra jokingly calls herself Glinda the good witch. Heh.

All of the women go to Simon, who gives each of them critiques on how they look on what they are currently wearing. April - she has to wear clothes that are stylish, not to show skin. Mercedes - He doesn't have any complaints, Sara - Has to be careful about not taking too much street style, Shandi - Tyra wants to see a wife-beater, but Simon is happy, Xiomara - Simon is happy with her style as well. Camille - Instead of Simon talking - she does and she explains about her Jamaican heritage. Xiomara's reaction? 'Camille - blah blah blah blah blah'. Simon calls Camille too theoretical. Gee, you think?

More comments from Simon - Yoanna -she looks like a groovy hip, fashion model. Jenascia - she says that the short pants make her look taller, but Tyra says 'I'm not looking at you here to be taller - I want you to represent 5'7".' Catie , who just got the new cropped hair - says that it's a hooker style. 'Go down to the docks to where the hookers are wearing and try to avoid it.' Ouch.

Simon tells the women that not all of them can accept criticism - and he singles out Catie, who goes after him for calling him a ho. He didn't call her a ho - he called her 'ho-style', but it's obvious that Catie . who was already on edge for not liking the haircut, is being very think skinned and is looking for any opportunity to build on it. 'You didn't go into this three week exercise thinking that you were going to be sitting down, drinking lemonade and have everyone say how beautiful you are, did you?' Catie says no, but Simon says that she needs to accept criticism and the rest of the women think that she's being a drama queen. I believe I see now why Catie and Camille have turned out to be hanging with each other - they may be the only people who like each other after this episode.

Her problems seem light compared to Mercedes, who is concerned that she won't have enough energy for the next task - to meet Betsey Johnson, one of New York's wackiest designers. Betsey talks all about personal statements and that she is famous because she sticks to her fashion statements. She shows the women her style - and she challenges the women to do the same. The women have 10 minutes to create a style - using anyone's clothes except their own. She says off camera that it has nothing to do with the wardrobe - it has everything to do with heart and personality.

April and Sara switch clothes, as does Yoanna and Mercedes. Camille asks to borrow Xiomara's earrings, and Xiomara, who doesn't like Camille to begin with, reluctantly says yes. She will not like her even more as Camille brings the earrings back - damaged. Oops. Camille says that they were broken when she got them, but XIomara isn't buying what Camille is selling and we have a catfight brewing.

Betsey has everyone do their own runway shoot - and Betsey is really happy with Mercedes, April, Yoanna and Sara. She says that Camille needs to be more polished, Catie hasn't found the real her yet, Shandi has to work on being a non-sexpot and Jenascia needs to go to modelling school for 6 months. That was weird - what's even weirder is that Betsey the winner...Shandi? She is shocked, but happy because it gets her going. Betsey finishes the meeting by doing a cartwheel, much to the girl's delight.

Mercedes is far from delighted as she calls mom to tell her that her hair is falling out. This comes from stress - which is something that people with Lupus can't afford to be. The says that she will overcome Lupus and make it to the top. So to not have stress, you are competing in a modelling contest? Oy.

To keep the stress level down, the girls are visited by Adrian, the winner of last season's Next Top Model. She, Shandi, Yoanna and Xiomara all eat at the restaurant as they all vent about Camille. Xiomara is the most blunt about it - 'That B$tch broke my earrings.' While they are making fun of Camille in the restaurant, the rest of the women - Catie specifically, are making fun of everyone's prancing on the catwalk. There's maturity for you. Adrian says it the best - 'You guys have the opportunity of a lifetime. Don't screw this up.'

The next thing not to screw up takes place at 6:30 am, as Jay Manuel tells the ladies that they will be taking on the personas of famous celebrities. Catie - Marilyn Monroe. Mercedes - Billie Holiday, April - Catherine Zeta-Jones, Sara - Angelina Jolie, Shandi - Nicole Kidman, Camille - Diana Ross, Jenascia - Selma Hyatt, Yoanna - Audrey Hepburn, Xiomara - Grace Jones.

Xiomara is far from happy about that. 'I don't feel like I look like her. Is this what's happening to me?' Xiomara needs to have a reality check - she looks a lot, bone-structure-wise, like Grace Jones, and I think that she will look very good. Jenascia continues to deal with the short think, as she thinks that it's why they picked her. Jenascia's photographer is worried about her lack of confidence - and even more so when she starts griping at him, That's not a good sign...

Other complaints from the photographer? Sara is holding back - but he really likes Camille, Shandi and April, who he calls a unique find. Catie is listening to instructions - but not from the photographer - but from Camille, who happens to be right, but who is irritating the photographer, because he thinks that he should be the person who should be giving the instructions. Mercedes was nervous, but they think that she did ok.

Jenascia is wondering how badly she wants it if she has to deal with this. Catie feels the same way, and she needs to call her boyfriend Justin to deal with it. Justin is justifiably pissed. 'My girlfriend is not a quitter'. Catie says that she feels herself changing and 'that's not the way that I want to get to the top.' I have news for you, Catie - that's exactly, as a model, how you have to get to the top - you need to change and be what the directors want, and if you can't do that - there's the door.

ONe of the women will be doing just that, as we get to the Tyra Elimination. The guest judge for this week is Betsey Johnson. All of the women walk in with black dresses, and Betsey is going to judge them based on how they accessorize it - and they only have 60 seconds to accessorize. Yoanna keeps it simple, only wearing a necklace, and the judges like it. April is told that she is looking too K-Mart, and they don't like the pic. Mercedes goes for a classic look with pearls and a scarf, and the judges completely pan it - but they do like the photo. They trash Shandi's look as well, 'Whenever I see a woman with something around a waist, I think it's there to hide a big ass'. Yikes.

They really like Sara's look and photo, but they tell Camille to shorten her explanation. She is arguing with the judges, which is something that you should never do, They do like her pic -- but they don't like Jenascia's look, as they think that she needs more self-confidence. 'I want to see America's Next Top Model, not America's Next Top Street Model.' Catie stays simple - and they like it - but it borders on drag queen-ish. First they call her style hookerish, then they call her a drag queen. Catie has had a tough week. They have to recreate Xiomara, but they do love the picture. Let's do a quick summary - IN: Shandi, Mercedes, Yoanna, April, Sara OUT: Jenascia, Camille, Catie, Xiomara

Tyra comes back with the pictures, and she invites Mercedes, Xiomara, Shandi, Yoanna, Sara, April and Camille. That leaves Jenascia and Catie - the two women who have had the hardest time this week. Jenascia is told that she has to overcompensate, while Catie is told that she may not be ready, maturity-wise. The women who advances is....Catie. Jenascia is eliminated, and she's upset that she's out. 'This house is going to suck without me' says Jenascia, who adds that she has to go back to Hooters and her friends. It may not have been the height - but the fact that she has a neurosis about it, that did her in.

We have enough neurosis and issues to do any of the contestants in. Let's see next week which one is done in next.

February 10, 2004

The height impaired woman is gone - now we talk about other people's traits as the women all talk about their backgrounds. April comes from an Asian background, while Sara's background is Middle Eastern/Muslim, Mercedes has a different type of background - she has lupus. She doesn't want anyone to know - but I have a feeling that that will change in the episode...

Tyra stops by and has a one on one chat with each of the girls. Tyra loves Xiomara's toughness - while Catie still wants to be her. Yoanna misses her mom, while Camille wants to shed her 'Diva' label. Mercedes wants to be a source of inspiration to other people, while April wants to market other people - not just Asian women. Shandi feels that she has grown from her past. After speaking to Tyra, Mercedes says that she is tired of hiding her lupus - so this should be interesting.

The next morning, the women meet Sam Christensen, who want to put the women through interviews and build their own charisma, so they can make themselves noticed. Sam has the women write what they feel about everyone else - and then the women should read what everyone else say about themselves. Everyone is happy, except Camille, who's roommates target them exactly. The truth hurts, doesn't it?

Next up, the women will say who they love. Mercedes loves her mom, Shandi loves her boyfriend. 'The Worse Thing That I have ever done is...' Sara - lying to her father about the competition, because her dad equates modelling to prostitution. All of this stress is getting to Mercedes - and Lupus, which feeds on stress, is taking it's toll on her, as she is forced to go to sleep.

While Shandi is talking about how she is breaking from her mom, the girls get a visit from 'Runway Diva' J. Alexander - and he is bringing out Susan the psychic as her guest. The psychic tells Mercedes that her body is tired. Camille - She puts people off. Sara - Dad is going to hate it and will cut you off. Let it go. April - She will be a tom model. Xiomara - She doesn't know how long she remains friends - but it's for self-protection. Shandi - here's a lot of addicted behavior - and she needs family and friends. That gets Shandi in tears and she gets hugs from everyone. AwwwwBarf.

The women go back to Sam, who tell the women that they will all be interviewed. The winner will get a shopping spree - and that leaves the women excited. They are much less excited when they find out that the interviewer will be...Janice Dickinson. 'That women will tear you apart.'

She does, as the first questions is 'Where is the funniest place that you have sex?' Catie says that she is a virgin, which makes Janice scrunch up her face. When asked who they would vote off - all of the women say Camille. I'm sure she'd love to hear that - as she says that she isn't intimidated by anyone - except Janice. Heh.

We get dig down deeper and get some of the dirt. We also find out that Shandi has been arrested for drug use and she finds out from Mercedes that she does have Lupus. April and Sara talk about her ethnicity. Janice calls everyone and tells them that they were very honest. She then congratulates everyone - and then tells Mercedes that she wins because she talked about her Lupus. Everyone is shocked - and the fact that she picked Sara to go on the spree is secondary. The friends are impressed with her, and Mercedes is happy - but she hopes that the fact that she has lupus will not be held against her.

Competitions aside, it's time to go shopping! Sara and Mercedes talk about her Lupus, and Mercedes is more than happy to talk about it. The women will be talking about the next shoot as Jay Manuel shows them the next shoot - the women will be shooting in an underwater tank - and they will be shot by George Holtz. Nole' Marin will be the stylist as they get into the tank.

Camille immediately moans that she doesn't want to go into the water because the fish poop in there. Sara does a good job - and Jay warns them that Sara was better in the water than she was in land. They also liked Catie, who apparently, isn't afraid of water. Yoanna was very good, too. Then there's Camille, who says that she is being completely natural in the water - but who looked like she was vogueing in the water. Xiomara was even worse, as she couldn't go in there without keeping her eyes open - or holding her nose. Camille was described as doing drag in the water, while Xiomara was being a walrus. They loved April, who was 'Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon', while Shandi was described more as 'Constipated women, Drowning Chicken.' Mercedes admits that she could be touch and go, but they loved her, and she looks very good.

Mercedes and Sara got a special reward when they got back to the pad - their moms. Tyra's mom comes over as well and joins them for dinner. Tyra tells the women that they can make a difference in talking to other kids. She also tells them that they have to realize that it's a business - and they need to take advantage of it.

Sara has a heart-to-heart talk with her mom, and she tells her to not worry about her Persian side - they will love her, and she feels better. Mercedes doesn't get that from her mom, but she does feel much better about herself afterwards.

She may not feel better after the elimination ceremony - which is coming up right now. The special judge is Nole Marin - and he wants the models to be a spokesmodel for a fake cosmetics company - Astim Cosmetics. Sara goes first - and they though that she was ok in the speech - but thy loved the pic. April is next - and they want less infomercial on the product - but they also loved her underwater picture. Xiomara is an angry spokesmodel and she paused in the middle of her speech - and she also paused in the middle of the picture with her mouth hanging out. Shandi lacked confidence in both the speech and the picture, which the judges thought that she sank like the Titanic.

They liked Catie's speech - and they loved the pic and she probably did the best job. Mercedes says that it's the best when her dad does his drag queen thing. Wha? That gets the judges to laugh - which is good, because they didn't like the pic. They didn't like Yoanna's speech - and they think that the picture is terrible. 'It looks like an adult ultrasound.' Camille comes off very arrogant, and she runs out of time. She asks for more time, but she doesn't get it. They pike the picture, but they don't like the arrogance.

Here we go with the reviews - IN: April, Sara, Mercedes, Catie OUT: Xiomara, Shandi, Yoanna, Camille. After gathering the women, Tyra calls out Sara, Mercedes, April, Yoanna, Catie and Shandi. That leaves Camille and Xiomara. Tyra tells Camille that she has a problem with people and she tells Xiomara that she loses her focus on shoots and also doesn't take direction well. Camille gets to advance, but that was clearly a warning shot to Camille to shape up - or she's next to go.

Will that happen? Or will another drama queen come out of the woodwork? We'll see 7 drama queens on the next episode - and we'll see who gets to exit, stage left.

February 17, 2004

Will Camille repent from the folly of her ways? Or will she be the next person out the door? Catie notices that Camille, though barely saved, didn't break a sweat - she conversely, is very emotional and holds nothing back. A blatant conflict of styles here...

...but the emotion of silliness is next on the menu, as the women compare their bellies. They are feeling Catie's vibe - and they are not too happy with it, as Mercedes wants to shut Catie up. Camille will be shutting up - but not by her choice as she's getting an allergic reaction that affects her face.

The women go off to see Jay - and he introduces them to Bill Heiberger. Camille complains about her face, so they have her go last while Bill takes care of everyone else. During the shoot, April and Mercedes talk about being too sensitive, and Camille is still complaining - so Jay tells her to pretend that there's no problem. Jay thinks that Camille gave it a good try - but not 100%.

The women now meet Kyle Hagler - the man who will be managing the winner. Kyle talks about how important acting is - to convey out emotions - so he sends the women over to acting class. Camille, who is still complaining about her lips, skips class to get medication.

While she is out, Tyra shows the women her drama teacher, Tasha. She gives them all classes on emotion - and to show them hot to be open and honest. She gives them all paper - and tells the women to write out their emotions from being rejected on paper. April, without even writing anything down, starts crying - and Tasha tells them all to rip up the paper and feel the pain that they have. While the women are crying, in walks Camille, miss anti-emotion. I have a feeling that she is going to be in big trouble this episode...

The women pour on the tears and talk about their miserable lives and how bad their family, personal lives have been. Eventually, they all collapse into a puddle of tears - except Camille, who isn't mad at anyone. Yoanna reminded her that they don't like each other in the house - and Camille gets another chance to vent - but she doesn't and Tasha accuses her of wearing a mask. She is much more emotional afterwards, talking about her lips - but when it comes to acting and being emotional, 'This just might be my downfall.'

Camille talks about her lack of emotions with April - who tells her that she has a front. The script may be a front, as everyone thinks that it's cheesy. April has memorized the script = she's working on the emotion. Let's see how well she remembers it, as Tasha says that the competition is for a shopping spree. All of the women get to do the scene with Mark Collier, who reminds the girl to be as up front and as honest as possible.

The women act - and Mark did indeed love April - and he liked Shandi. He wasn't feeling Catie, who admitted that she was half-assing it. That's not good. What's even worse is that Camille has changed the lines. 'That really shouldn't happen.'

At the end, everyone has to finish with a passionate kiss - which Catie blows because she is thinking of her boyfriend. With Camille, Mark says 'Of you do something for David Mann, and you change the words, then you won't have that job anymore.' Tasha adds to that, calling her clueless. Ouch.

Tasha calls out both Catie and Camille - and she praises April and Shandi - but she gives the award to April, who loved the feedback. She selects someone to go with - and she picks Catie, because she wants to get an 18 year old girl some stuff. Camille, who wasn't picked, complains to dad, when Catie takes the phone from Camille and asks dad why he doesn't cry in front of Camille. That's not a good way to make friends. She makes better friends with April as they go out shopping.

The next morning, after Catie complains about the oatmeal, the women will be going to a photo shoot for an ad for Rolito's Chips. James Gay, the director, tells the women that they will be doing an aerial exercise on the wall, and they would be fighting - in mid air - and acting like they were all fighting for the last bag of Rolito Chips. Catie, who has been complaining about almost every photo shoot, complains about this one too because she is afraid of heights - and Sara tells her to shut up. Heh.

Now for the shot itself - April and Shandi both get great marks - as does Camille, who rebounds quite nicely from the farce of an acting performance that she gave. Catie doesn't fight at all - and she just stands up there like a cow on a meat hook. Jay complains that he has not good shots of her - and that puts her squarely on the bulls-eye. Camille is trying to join her - as she has diction problems, but Catie goes back on the eviction bubble because she comes off as unemotional and flat.

With that, the women go off to meet the judges, and the guest judge is Kyle Hagler. The women get to see the final edit of the commercial - which makes all of the women happy. The women also get a screen test, as they have to say the line 'I've never wanted anything more than this - and if I don't get it, I'm gonna die.' first the women have to say it sexy, then they have to be funny. The highlight comes when Janice Dickinson wants Yoanna to be funny - so Yoanna moons her. That gets laughs from the audience - as well as me. Nice.

They love April and Mercedes - and call Sara and Shandi bland. They hated Camille and Catie's pose and they are in the middle with Yoanna. The judges deliberate on the women - and here's what they think. IN: April, Sara, Shandi, Mercedes OUT: Yoanna, Catie, Camille. Tyra calls over the women - and invites April, Yoanna, Mercedes, Shandi and Sara. Catie and Camille step up. Both of them were miserable in both exercises today - but Catie did not step up in the commercial stunt - and Tyra doesn't think that Catie is emotionally ready to continue.

Camille's lack of whining on the commercial set saved her - and Catie bursts into tears. She then curses out Tyra for cutting her hair (which she hates) and vows to go back to LA and make it on her own. It's too bad that we didn't get to see any of this emotion and dedication in the shoots - because that's when she really needed to show it.

Camille has dodged two strike balls. Will she be out on the third time? Or will she skate through it and will someone else take the fall? We'll find out next week.

February 24, 2004

Half of the field is gone - and camille realizes that she could have been in that bottom half. She sees that she better shape up - and she pledges to do so. Shandi is pledging to spend more time with her boyfriend, while Sara and Yoanna is talking about how badly they want it. April wants to be an actress, and she sees that she has to raise the bar in order to win.

But it's not acting that's the focus on this episode - it's dancing. Jay talks to the models about dancing - and he brings out choreographer Tony Michaels, who wants the women to dance sexily for him. This brings out an 'Oh crap' from Sara, who has had knee surgery and thinks that this could be a huge hindrance for her. It is, as Tony says that she was staring at the floor. Camille was dancing like a diva, and Yoanna was dancing kooky. Tony was impressed with Shandi. He was impressed with April - but thought that maybe she was trying a little too hard. The women next need to dance around Tony, and he gives his critiques there, too.

We get a package from Shandi's family from home. AwwwwwBarf. We also have time for more phone time. Sara is talking to mom about how her knee hurts, Shandi's boyfriend is talking to her about going out to the movies - with another woman. That is a hideously stupid blunder by the boyfriend and Shandi lets him have it. Shandi, Camille, Mercedes and Sara decide to go out clubbing - and they run into a bunch of guys who want their phone numbers. Well, that's a way to get over a steamed boyfriend.

The next day, Tony has a competition for the women. They have to dance a choreography moment, and the best one gets to hang out with two music celebrities. In the process, Sara's knee gives way - and she has to explain to Tony that she had knee surgeries. Tony understands - but s the first person that he eliminates anyway. Shandi is the next to be dropped, followed by Mercedes, as Shandi notes that the best people from last time are the worst people now. Yoanna is next and Camille is the last woman knocked out, which means that April wins - again. She selects Sara and Shandi to join her to meet ODB and The RZA from the Wu Tang Clan.

With success comes contempt - Yoanna says that April looks constipated - and her and Mercedes make fun of her. Meow. Shandi tells her boyfriend about what happened at the club and he assumed that she told the guy that she had a boyfriend. Well, Shandi didn't and it's her turn to make the hideously stupid blunder. The boyfriend does what any other normal boyfriend would do - he hangs up on her.

ODB and the RZA come down to pick up April, Sara and Shandi, who is concerned about how Eric the beau is going to handle this. Well, judging by what we know about him from the episode, not too well. Shandi cuddles up with Kinetic - and Eric really has to be steamed about it.

The next morning, the women are invited to shake their bodies. We now find out why the women are taking the choreography lessons - they'll be dancing in the first ever Tyra Banks video! Kennedy the director says that there is nowhere to hide as they have to perform for him. The women have to dance and pose down a runway. Some women are taking it a little too seriously - as April, while moving down the runway, tries to bowl over Yoanna, who is coming around the other side, Yoanna takes offense, and you have to wonder if she overheard Yoanna say that she was acting constipated...

Kennedy was having problems with Sara - who may have been thinking too much - but he was happy with Camille, who may have takes herself off of the bubble. She does better than Mercedes, who blanks out on her moves and Yoanna, who also forgets her choreography and falls on the floor. Oops.

The elimination is looming after the video - and April and Sara both profess to how badly they want it. Shandi notes that April is overanalyzing - and April does indeed do just that, crying because she doesn't know if Tyra thinks that she is serious because it's her dream - or serious because it's just another competition for her to win.

The women approach Tyra for this week's elimination - and the new judge os Tony Michaels. Shandi is first, and she's the 'sexiest' that she's ever been. Camille has a lot of fire - but she is still holding back. Sara's performance 'It was a toss between a bad music video and a belly dancer in a Greek restaurant.' Mercedes and Yoanna also get the thumbs down, and April looks 'clinical' like she has an upset stomach. Constipation, anyone?

IN - Mercedes, April, Camille, Shandi OUT - Yoanna, Sara. Well, based on that, this looks like a very easy choice for the bottom two. Indeed, it is - Shandi, Mercedes, Camille and April quickly get in - but April is warned that she should win for not just the sake of winning. Tyra is having difficulties because it's getting very tough - and she thanks all of the models for being part of her video - and her dream. Both Yoanna and Sara screwed up her movemnts, but the person who will get saved is...Yoanna. Sara cries immediately, as do the rest of the women, and we now have an old-fashioned tear fest. Even Tyra gets into the act. AwwwwBarf.

Sara says that this isn't going to stop making her dream come true. As she leaves, we get to see Tyra's new video. My take? I like the song, but the non-changing percussion beat drives me nuts. Hopefully they will change that when the dance remixes come out. The video itself is a scorcher, and the models are nice. Very nice. I may have to save this tape for...uh...archival purposes. Yeah, that's it.

Next week, someone else will be coming out - out of the show, that is. Tune in next week to see who makes the Final Four.

March 2, 2004

The ejection of Sara is still sending shockwaves through the cast. Yoanna tries to counter that by exercising and make her body better so the judges can't get rid of her. Camille, remembering the psychic saying that she will not win this unless she makes friends, decides that she needs to open up and do just that - and then promptly gets into another fight with Yoanna. Camille does not play ell with the other kids in the sandbox...

Will she play well with Supermodel Heidi Giselle? The 5 women go to the offices of IMG, which is the place where the winning model will be working at. Kyle Hagler, one of the managers, explains that out of the 100 or so people they see every day, only two of them get signed - A YEAR. Kyle says that the models have a minute to make most people care about them. He shows them a go-see, which is a quick minute interview with Camille.

Camille and Yoanna start to talk to each other again - and then the two people who have been at each other's throats since day 1 are now sharing the same confessional. Wha? April is shocked too, and it seems like Camille is finally starting to learn. She also leads a rap with the rest of the women, as they read off the clue - as the clue reads that they are all going o Milan, Italy! The women are all bonding together, and this could be for 2 reasons - 1. Camille is FINALLY starting to learn, or 2. With only 5 women left, you have to bond with them because there is no one else to bond with.

All of the women can't wait to go, as Mercedes says that since Milan is the center of the fashion industry in Europe, it would be great to learn about everything. Shandi seems a little less enthused, as she is still having problems with her boyfriend.

Maybe a trip to Italy will help her think less about him, as the women meet David Brown, president and owner of D' Management Group - which is the European extension of who Tyra models for. David will put all of the models through various Go Sees with different people - and the person with the best appearance, personality and charisma will win the competition.

The women will be going on motorcycles - which will be driven by Italian male models. Mercedes likes what she sees and says 'Ciao'. 1pm Milan time is 5am New York time, which will make it harder for a whole bunch of tired models to get through with this activity. Shandi is looking timid, while Camille, who talks to her driver and becomes aggressive in her Go See, is described as a 'princess'. Mercedes is told she has a nice attitude - but could be too commercial. April seems to be playing it by the numbers - maybe too by the numbers and sterilized. Yoanna plays the 'Miss America' rout, like she's at a gleeful business meeting.

Next up - the clothing change and Go See. All of the women are too slow for their critics sake, and the critics are especially put off by Camille's attitude. The women, in turn, didn't like any of the clothing critics either, so the feeling was mutual.

Afterwards, the women need some relaxation, and Camille is finding it in the Italian model who is driving her around, as he tries to hit on her. She likes it as they flirt a little. Will she like the results? Shandi was called too shy and not confident. April was strong in appearance but weak everywhere else, Yoanna's face is good, but body needs some work, Mercedes was weak in appearance, but strong and confident. Camille had the best confidence overall, but they didn't like her attitude.

The woman with the best score is...Camille, who gets a self portrait. Camille gets to pick someone to go with her, and she picks...Yoanna, as Camille tries to convince her that she is beautiful. This brings the friendship full circle, as the 2 bickering bickersons finally can get along.

As good as that may feel for Yoanna, she is devastated that the critics don't like her body, and she thinks that for her, maybe it's time to go home. Yoanna talks to Mercedes, who tells her that she's just tired, hungry and self-conscious, and that she needs to go to bed. After that, Mercedes talks about how Yoanna image of herself may royally hurt her neat the end.

Bed time comes - and Yoanna and Camille, dubbed 'Ebony and Ivory', are rooming together. The women all seem to be happy with this, but is this a ploy from Camille? Apparently it is, as she says that hasn't yet forgiven Yoanna and the best way to get revenge on someone is to 'Kill them with kindness'. Ok, I'll take back what I said about Camille before, as she is not being kinder, but just learning to play the game better as her claws aren't rally unsheathed...

Verona - home of Romeo and Juliet - and the home of their next photo shoot. The shoot, taking place during solstice, will be for sunglasses. The photographer, Massimo Costoli, will be looking for a sense of high-fashion, which scares Yoanna to death. Nole Marin wardrobes all of the models while Jay Manuel wants the models to be in deconstructive, open, poses - which is something that the always guarded Camille should be worried about. Sure enough, they accuse of her of doing every forced, and Massimo isn't happy with her. 'Camille overthinks her poses', says Jay 'and she just never lets go.'

All of the women are told to not think about it - and Shandi is the first woman to finally get it. 'Shandi completely blew me away' says Jay, who was impressed at how far the Walgreen's worker has come. They like what April has done, but they aren't sure about the high-fashionedness of Mercedes.

While the other women are at the shoot, Camille is still killing Yoanna with kindness as they have their self-portrait. Yoanna is now enjoying the friendship with Camille, while Camille thinks that Yoanna appreciates what she's done for her. Well, that's a sort-of friendship, I think, while I think that Yoanna should check her back for future knife marks.

Sure enough, at the dinner with Tyra and Jay Manuel, while Yoanna is going out to powder her nose, Camille talks about that Yoanna may have an eating disorder. Mercedes, who is pissed off because she didn't think that Camille was being honest, tells Yoanna, who blows up at Camille and accuses her of planting a seed in Tyra's mind to eliminate her. That could be the case, and Camille has to be smiling inside about it. Yoanna looks like she wants to not just kill Camille with kindness - but just kill Camille.

Yoanna realizes that she has to do some damage control and she goes over to Tyra. Tyra says that she was concerned about Yoanna's health, but she also tells Yoanna that talking about that stuff is part of the ugly side of the beauty world. Tyra reassures her that it won't be taken against her, and she just wanted to make sure that Yoanna was ok. A relieved Yoanna says that she knew it all along that Camille was up to no good - and that she wants to take Camille out.

It's the judges who will be taking people out as we get to the next elimination ceremony. The special guest judge is Michael Gianninni, who was one of the people at the clothing Go See - and who taped everyone there to see their reaction. Oops.

Shandi is first, and the shyness came out - but so did her professionalism, and the judges thought that the photo shoot was perfection. Mercedes is next, and the walk was high-fashioned - but is she too commercial?

Remember all of the attitude that Camille had that put off the clothing critics? 'Miss' Camille is next and all of her attitude is displayed for the judges to see. Tyra - 'I want to take out a page from Janice - Camille, what were you thinking?' Camille tries to defend herself by saying that she won the challenge, but Tyra counters that the diva attitude won't get her anywhere and the photographer liked her the least. Ouch.

Yoanna looks great and the judges were impressed by her, and in the photo shoot, her photo shoot was a great body transformation. April was called too 'clinical' - and although she is technically sound, she has to put more romance and passion in it in order for her to win. 'SHe's thinking instead of feeling.'

Tyra calls up the 5 models-to-be and tells them that she only has 4 photos left. Shandi (who needs to be more fierce), Yoanna (who did an amazing job, according to Tyra), and April (who has to relax) are the three called up. Mercedes and Camille are left. Mercedes has a lack of a fashion industry look - but Camille's attitude finally does her in and she is eliminated.

The way she reacts tells it all - Camille, instead of saying good-bye or hugging the girls, just turns around and slinks out the door. She says that she is going to take the experience and make Camille the better Camille, but she could have won this thing if she toned down the attitude and opened up.

This decision was a no-brainer in terms of who was going to get eliminated - but we are down to a very capable and tough final 4, as each of them have their strengths - and weaknesses. Join us next week, when we turn four into three.

March 16, 2004

We have taken a week off, as all models need their beauty rest - even the lovely Tyra Banks. Actually, they took a week off for a recap show, but we are now back and ready to chronicle their actions. We start the chronicling with them still in Milan, and with them having to translate Italian words. With the vision of Camille leaving still in their heads (and Yoanna singing praises about it), the women get ready to go to the 12:30 shoot.

Yoanna wants to tone her tummy, while April needs to cut down on overanalyzing. Shandi misses her boyfriend - but she wants to be America's Next Top Model. Mercedes wants to win, too - but she's still dealing with Lupus. 4 women, 4 obstacles.

At 12:30, they run into Stephen Fairchild, who is a famous fashion designer. He tells the women to pick out one outfit and show it to him. April picks a raincoat which Stephen thinks is completely wrong. Mercedes needs to be elongated, while Shandi needs to have less baggy pants. Yoanna has that midriff issue. He remakes all of them, and they all look like high-fashioned models. Very nice.

For the assignment, the women have to g to a flea market and create a wardrobe which stresses sensuality. The winner will spend an evening with Stephen. Tonight though, the women will be spending some time with the men who were on the motorcycles as the single Yoanna invites some of them over to hang out. Jean Luc, Niccolo, Andrea and Orlando come over to play, which Shandi likes, but she reminds herself that she's taken. 'The great thing with Italian men is that you can shop with them, but you can sleep with them too. Of course, I'm taken,' says April, who shares Shandi's sentiments.

Yoanna, who doesn't share those sentiments, takes Andrea (who's a guy) into her room and shares cds. They start to make out - and thanks to the glass windows on the door, all of the women can see. They wind up piling on and they move on to the tub - well everyone except April, who keeps her word to her man and doesn't join in...for around 15 minutes. 'These girls, myself included, have been like monkeys in a cage, and you drop big bananas inside - of course, you're going to tear the peels off.'

After the hot tub, everyone splits up and does their own thing. They all leave happy - except for Shandi, who is now crying because she wound up letting it go. She hugs Yoanna and is in tears and she knows that any transgressions by her man are nothing compared to what she just did. She knows that it's all her fault - and she's waiting for the consequences.

Shandi tries to get that out of her mind as they go to the flea market - but she can't and it shows. She's afraid that she's going to wreck every relationship that she is in. After the flea market, they go to Lake Como and meet Stephen, his wife and his house. The winner gets her own bedroom, while everyone else is stuck in the same bedroom.

We get to the fashion part - and it seem like only one woman listened to him in terms of what he told her. That person is Shandi, and she gets to have someone with her. She is thrilled that she won, while Yoanna is grumbling that she can't win for winning's sake. Yoanna does get picked by Shandi to join her, so she's thrilled about it, while April and Mercedes get stuck eating all by themselves in a small table in the other room.

The happiness is about to dissipate very quickly for Shandi, as she calls her boyfriend and tells him what happened. SHandi - 'I did the worst possible thing that I can do.' Boyfriend - 'You had SEX????' Shandi - 'Yes'. Shandi expects her boyfriend to dump her, and she's right, as he says that he can't expect to be with someone who cheated on him. 'What were you thinking? I'm hanging up.' Well, that went over as well as a lead balloon. Shandi cries herself to sleep.

Hopefully the next challenge will help her get her mind off of it. Jay Manuel tells the women that they have to do a photo shoot in duos. Shandi and Yoanna will be one group, while April and Mercedes will be the other. What's going to make this difficult is that in order for this to work, one girl can not outshine the other. The women will have Italian braids - and they will have only shoes and accessories on - no clothes. Mercedes, 'When you have the boys back home, and you ask who they'd rather see naked, they'd say us.'

Yoanna and Shandi go first. Yoanna is arcing her body so that no one sees her midriff, and she is looking great, while Shandi is not taking direction at all. Nole Marin - 'Last time, Shandi she looked like a boiled chicken in the fish tank., Today, she drowned.'

April - 'Today may be determining who's going home. I don't want it to be me, and I don't want it to be Mercedes.' April is doing a good job convincing the people that it should be her, as she does the one thing that you can't do - tell the directors how to direct. 'It seemed like she wanted to take over my job' says a visibly concerned Jay Manuel, who also added that Mercedes didn't look comfortable posing with April. Well, we have our two candidates for expulsion, eh, Shandi and April?

After the posing, the women meet with Tyra for coffee and conversation. Shandi asks Tyra if she's ever cheated. She says no and gives some advice for Shandi - 'Don't cheat, flirt - flirt so much that when you come home, the guy's going to want to do me!.' She asks Shandi about the question, and she tells Shandi that everyone makes mistakes - and to not give in to the carnal knowledge.

Shandi realizes that she's changed - and so had April, as she says that she has gotten back in touch with her emotions. Yoanna says that if she has to go home, that she thanks Tyra for everything that they have done, as it's all been a dream. AwwwwBarf.

Someone will be going home, though, and Shandi's boyfriend wants to know when. He is being very supportive and he wants her to get the contract. He's mad at her, but he wants her to get the contract and to not give up. I think that's great for Shandi and her boyfriend and I admire what he's doing...

...but will the judges admire Shandi? Stephen Fairchild, the guest judge, tells each of the models to take and decorate a t-shirt and make it sensual. Shandi made a shirt with a shoulder exposed, and she is called a muse as Stephen thinks she did a great job. Yoanna makes it more tomboyish but the judges don't like the look. April's shirt is called the night club look and she is showing off too much skin - but the judges love Mercedes low t-shirt line. 'You have to come work for me if you can really cut that quickly.

It's time to see the group pictures. They loved Yoanna and Shandi's pic...well, they loved Yoanna, but they called Shandi's expression pained. The judges also loved April and Mercedes picture and they loved the return of April's sex appeal. The judges go after April for overstepping her bounds on the photographer.

It's time to review the contenders. Yoanna is the most improved, while Shandi is the wild card - but can she be a spokesperson and a leader? April is considered lifeless and thinks too much, but Mercedes, though considered erotic, has short legs - but Tyra thinks that she can be high-fashioned - something that she didn't think before.

Tyra calls the four girls over - and she has three pictures. Yoanna is first - and she needs to improve the sex appeal. Shandi is second - and she is beautiful - but is she here to win it - or is she here for the ride? That leaves Mercedes and April. April is the best poser, but her being too mechanical has always hurt her - and her directing the producers was the final straw. Her quest for perfection has doomed her and she is eliminated.

A stunned April breaks down in tears, and everyone is there to console her. 'I don't understand - I always win everything. I was not ready for the elimination.' She adds that she can't go back to what she was doing, and she will be a top model - whatever it takes.

Next week - the grand finale. You have 3 women, with three great storylines and three strengths - and glaring weaknesses. I think Yoanna is the favorite, but any of them can win this, and that makes for great compelling television. Join us for the compelling finale next week.

March 23, 2004

It's all come down to this - it's the finals, where we have three women, but only one prize. Will it be Shandi, Yoanna or Mercedes? The winner will be...all of the people who love space filler, as I am sure we will have plenty of that - but we will also have a winner this evening.

We start with - guess what - space-filler, as we start with a recap with each model. When we get to real-time, we have the three women contemplating about where they are now. Mercedes talks about being lonely while in Milan and keeping her lupus in check as she talks to her mom. Shandi gets some more reconciliation from her boyfriend, who misses her and cares about her. Shandi says that she will work through it. Yoanna doesn't have anyone to call - because she's too busy moving her stuff around because no one wants to help - they are too busy going to bed.

After getting their beauty sleep, the women find out the next morning that they are going on a beauty shoot. Each women thinks that the other one is their biggest competition as they enter their last photo shoot. When they see Jay Manuel, he tells the women that they will all be transformed as they will be doing a fashion beauty ad. Each woman gets a completely new look - Yoanna will be wearing a motorcycle helmet, Mercedes gets a wire around her head and Shandi gets her hair all bouffed up.

Yoanna fells the back of her hair is coming out of her helmet, so she decides to cut the back of her hair off. That's a mistake, as Jay Manuel yells at her and they have to cut even more off to compensate. If she keeps going, she'll be sporting the Sinead O'Connor look.

Shandi is looking straight at Mercedes, who says that she's glad that Shandi is being distracted. When Yoanna is posing, Mercedes says (to the camera) that they are liking Yoanna, but Mercedes says, 'Bitch, you ain't going to go nowhere...(LONG pause)...sorry' The little lupus kitty is bearing out her claws...

After the shoot, the women go back to their apartment and see that the have go to and meet the brothers behind D2 (D Squared). Tyra sends the women to go off to audition for D Squared to get into the final fashion shoot. They meet Dean and Dan Caten, who are the brothers of D2. They look and sound like chipmunks. Chip and Dale, anyone?

Mercedes interviews first, and the guys like her spunk, Shandi's body, and Yoanna's professionality. They ask Yoanna who her favorite fashion designer is - and she says them. Shandi and Mercedes both say Betsey Johnson - and that gets them raspberries from both of them. Score another point for Yoanna. They then stick the women in their clothes - but it's Mercedes who seems to impress as all of the women admit that Mercedes wears the clothes the best. There is an elimination looking on the horizon - and if Yoanna wins the interview, and Mercedes wins the fashion part, then Shandi is in trouble...

Tyra call up the three women for the final elimination session. The special judges this time around are D2. The winning two people will perform in the D2 Fashion Show - and whoever performs the best there will have a huge edge on winning the title of America's Next Top Model.

Mercedes goes first - and they all like her, though Tyra wants her to step higher when she walks. Shandi's walk also needs improvement, but Janice loves how far Shandi has come - thought they still don't think they see it in her eyes. They see it in Yoanna's eyes - but they hate her walk too.

The judging is up in the air - but they all agree that these women are better than most of the women who are currently modelling. They like Yoanna's face, but they think she is too inconsistent. They see that Mercedes wins the walk competition and they love her. Shandi looks great in terms of dress, but Janice and Eric Nicholson both go after her walk and she is the most critiques by them and Nigel. That, plus not winning anything earlier, tells me that Shandi is history.

The women are called back to Tyra, as she announces that Mercedes' picture saved her bacon in terms of high-fashion, and she will move on to the finals. Although Tyra says that both women fell apart in this judging, I didn't see that during the montage. Nevertheless, one women will be going with Mercedes to the finals, and joining her will be....Yoanna. Shandi will have some extra time to make-up with her boyfriend - but she will be doing it without a Modelling Contract.

She says that she has grown into a person that she likes and appreciates more, and she says that she won't feel as insecure and she thinks that she and her boyfriend will make their relationship work. AwwwwBarf.

So we are down to 2 - and Tyra takes both of them to the D2 runway, where they will be performing their fashion show. Jay reminds them that they are doing this for an actual client - and that it's not the Mercedes and Yoanna show. Speaking of which, Yoanna knows that she has screwed up her walk - and she knows that she has to do better this time around. Mercedes heart is also pumping fast as she sees this as the last competition.

The show was nothing less than full chaos. Yoanna has an episode where one of her shoes breaks, so they stick her in Mercedes's shoes. When Mercedes sees Yoanna walking her out there, her reaction is 'That's Yoanna? F#ck that B$tch.' Mercedes has a potty mouth - but neither her mouth nor Yoanna's shoes were a factor. Tyra says that she still doesn't know who wins, because 'both girls worked it'.

After the shoot, both women have mail from Tyra - and the girls are the best of friends (of course they are now, as the shoot is over). The women make fun of the judges and fellow competitors, say how badly they want to win and how disappointed they will be if the other person wins, and then they pack up and go to the final judging. There are no special judges this time around - the real judges will be making the final decision.

Yoanna talks about borrowing Mercedes shoes - and Janice is surprised that in this sort of a competition, Mercedes would be that nice. Tyra has critiques for both of the women - but they all loved their photos. The judges think that Yoanna has the stronger face, but Mercedes has the stronger body. Tyra equates Yoanna to a magazine cover and Mercedes to a beauty story - and Mercedes has a look of concern.

With that, the women leave and the judges have to deliberate. Janice votes for Mercedes, as her and her story blows her away, while Eric votes for Yoanna, because she has the charisma. Nigel thinks that Mercedes has the better personality, and she did better on the runway - but Yoanna would be the best overall and she would be the better high-fashioned model. This is going to be close.

Tyra calls both women over and points them to a TV screen. The girls photo that shows up there will be America's Next Top Model. The woman who wins this year's award is....Yoanna. Mercedes did give the best runway performance, but she didn't convince the judges that she would be the best in terms of high-fashion, and that's what did her in. Mercedes cries that she didn't go all the way, while Yoanna screams in joy. 'I never was a cheerleader, never made the squad, never made homecoming or prom queen, nothing. I was always just there - and now I'm America's Next Top Model.' We see a montage of her work, and then we fade to black. End of series.

My take? As much as I was scared after the first episode, this was actually an intelligent show that really brought modelling to a new light - and I did enjoy this. I did have one quibble, and it is a legitimate one - I felt that a number of cuts weren't because of something that they did wrong - but it was because of something physical with them that they wouldn't be able to control - height, boobs, etc - and even with the last cut, Mercedes did the better job - even the judges admitted to that - but she loses because they thought that Yoanna would do the better job overall, which pretty much made the last challenge meaningless.

If those things were that much of a distraction, then they should NEVER have let the contestants come on if they were going to not be considered as a contender before the cameras started to roll. The show gets a B+, but the way that some of the eliminations were selected - especially the end - drops this one to a B-.

This will definitely go into a third season - and it deserves to - but I hope that the eliminations are based more on objectivity, rather than subjectivity. This is Gordon Pepper, hoping that you subjectively and objectively enjoyed the recaps.


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