America's Next Top Model: Nigel Barker, Jay Manuel, and J. Alexander Out
Top Model is no stranger to having members of panel coming and going in between seasons. In its 18 cycles, the series has had anywhere between three and five judges evaluating the contestants, with the likes of Janice Dickinson, Nole Marin, and Andre Leon Talley having served for multiple years. But never before has there been change like this.
According to Deadline, noted fashion photographer Nigel Barker, photo shoot director Jay Manuel, and runway diva coach extraordinaire J. Alexander are all on the way out after the current cycle. Reportedly, the contracts for all three weren't renewed, bringing to an end the tenure of three long-serving Top Model mentors. Barker had been the lone non-Tyra fixture at panel, having had a seat since cycle 2, while Alexander and Manuel each made their first appearance in cycle 1. There's no indication of how many replacements will be named or when we'll find out the look of the all new Top Model, but I'd bet that we'll hear at least some details for cycle 19 at the CW upfronts in May.
Although they may not have actively contributed that much anymore, it's strange to think of Top Model without Nigel and the two J's. They're remnants of great cycles gone by, each having had good moments in the past, and have been a source of stability in the face of a constantly morphing panel. Miss J., while my favorite of the three, had been eased out following his own judging stint, having made a couple appearances per cycle since then; Barker and Manuel, on the other hand, have had very visible presences on the show since 2004, so the transition should be an interesting one to behold come September.
I understand why it happened, as Top Model ratings have sagged this spring, but I'm wondering if it had to be such a bloodbath. One person leaving, okay, but three? And the only three, aside from Tyra, that have been there since pretty much the beginning? Change is good (and healthy), but change for the sake of change may not be the best thing for the show. Either this move will do wonders to reinvent the show and inject some new energy into things, or it'll be too dramatic of a shift for viewers to take, leading to the beginning of the end of Top Model.
Top Model airs Wednesday nights at 9:00 on The CW. If you missed my review of this week's episode, a mixture of art, anti-bullying messages, and tooching, you can check it out here.