In Defense Of Tyra Banks.

It's well known that former model and America's Next Top Model judge Janice Dickinson says whatever she wants, whenever she wants. As a result, crass remarks pretty much eject regularly. This time she is going off on Tyra Banks and the series in what seems more like a jealous rant than anything insightful.

It’s well known that former model and America’s Next Top Model judge Janice Dickinson says whatever she wants, whenever she wants. As a result, crass remarks pretty much erupt regularly. (Kind of like a cold sore – just when you think you haven’t seen her in a while, she pops up and makes an appearance.) This time she is going off on Tyra Banks and the series in what seems more like a jealous rant than anything insightful.

In an interview on Janice TV at, Dickinson talked about a revelation regarding how the series America’s Next Top Model is made. One that shouldn’t be that shocking. But she also takes such a low road in doing so that it’s Dickinson herself that looks like the fool.

In her ‘shocking revelation,’ she reveals what she claims made her leave the show:

“CoverGirl are the ones who choose the model — not any of the judges. People don’t know that! … When I found that out, I split. It’s rigged!”

First of all, I doubt that she spent as many seasons as she did on the show without knowing that CoverGirl would have an enormous impact on who won, whether or not they actually choose the winner. They are the show’s largest sponsor, they provide a six figure contract to the winner, and they have a brand to protect. They also provide a lot of credibility to the show. It stands to reason that they are not going to blindly allow people who don’t have an investment in CoverGirl to just gratuitiously decide who should be the face of their brand without their input. Still, you can’t underestimate the input and value of Tyra, a seasoned model and businesswoman, and her various judges to translate what works as a model and a brand in the world of fashion, TV and marketing. They will add insights that CoverGirl execs won’t have. The truth is, it is more than likely a synergistic relationship where everyone has discussion about what makes for good television (characters) and good business (beauty, grace, and personality that fits the brand.) You can bet that CoverGirl signs off on the winner.

But step back for a moment and consider – what IF CoverGirl was the sole decider? (The network denies the claim.) Would that be such a big deal? As a television executive producer myself who has worked on reality shows, I can tell you that TV isn’t free. When a major sponsor is integrating themselves into your show, you can bet they will have an impact on the show’s direction to some extent.

Additionally, Dickinson implies she ‘left’ the show on her own volition in light of this realization. But it has been previously reported that she was actually fired from the show back in 2005 after four seasons. That’s a long time working on the show in complete ignorance. I don’t buy it.

Dickinson did not take kindly to the ouster, reportedly calling Banks a “huge, big woman,” and a “man” in later interviews. (How professional!) Honestly, for kids who think the cattiness and rudeness of high school ends after graduation, look no further than Janice Dickinson. The sour grapes she’s been eating is evident in the expression she uses in most of her photos.

It seems the former supermodel is bitter about the money Banks makes lincensing the series internationally, but Dickinson wouldn’t be complaining so much if the concept was her own idea, and she were selling it to the world.

“The fact of the matter is [Tyra Banks] makes like $90 million,” Dickinson said. “She makes a lot of money per year still hawking that franchise worldwide — they’re doing it in every country — and it’s CoverGirl who chooses the winner…F*** you Tyra!”

Really, Janice? Banks makes cash on the show because she developed a smart concept that works. Networks don’t throw money at people out of kindness. Frankly, this wreaks of jealousy and competitiveness and ulimately it’s Dickinson who ends up looking like the fool.

As campy and silly and dramatic as Tyra can get on ANTM, don’t forget that she is also a businesswoman who is keenly aware of her own brand and image, how to ‘work it,’ and when. Note how she presents herself on the series versus interviews on other programs. She behaves differently. She’s adapting to each audience at any given moment.

In Dickinson’s own way, she herself is keeping her own, trash talking image in tact by sounding off. She knows it. She’s built a brand based on being brassy bitch. Mission accomplished. Given the choice, I’ll take Banks – who opts for professionalism and fun. (And, it’s worth noting, generally takes the high road, avoiding comment on her detractors, but isn’t afraid to speak up when she deems necessary.) Her success in of itself is a testament to what works.

For more entertainment news and commentary, follow @BrianBalthazar on twitter.

For Tyra Banks twitter updates, follow @TyraBanks on twitter.

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