Why Did Tyra Banks Drastically Change ANTM?

America’s Next Top Model got the television equivalent of a total body makeover for cycle 19, which premiered last night on The CW. When host/executive producer Tyra Banks fired just about everyone on the show after cycle 18, she left many viewers puzzled, and now she’s given her rationale.

In case you haven’t been following or have yet to tune in, the new season of ANTM is a “College Edition”, featuring models that are currently in college. Kelly Cutrone, model Rob Evans, and Bryanboy have been tapped to replace Miss J. Alexander, Jay Manuel, and Nigel Barker, and fan votes account for 25 percent of model’s scores at the end of each challenge.  The Hollywood Reporter got ahold of Tyra just ahead of the season premiere, and she talked about the decision to make some changes to the decade-old show. Basically, things were just getting stale — not surprising after 18 cycles. This is what Tyra told THR about the revamp:

I got a call from my boss … who said we needed to make some serious changes. It was a phone call that left me nervous and shaking. I hung up the phone — I got pulled out of a class at Harvard [where she recently graduated from the university’s executive education program] to take the call — and went back into the class, but I couldn’t focus on the professor. I was panicking. [But] yesterday we had a debut party and did a screening of the first episode, and every single reporter in New York City was there … and they were super excited, wanting to talk about all the changes. Even though I went to business school, it was my boss that gave me a big lesson about rejuvenation and making something that’s been around a long time fresh and exciting again.

Notice how she casually calls attention to the fact that she was in class. At Harvard. SHE WENT TO HARVARD, YOU GUYS. Anyway, the stress of these changes was too much, so she did what every normal person does when they are stressed: she went to Bali to clear her mind, and subsequently had some major epiphanies about the direction the show should take. Here’s what we can expect from the rest of cycle 19:

I took a break. I had to check out a little bit and realized I needed to go away. I went to Bali and took the entire first season with me on discs and studied it while I was there to understand why we are successful and what got us there in the first place and what we did in terms of being creative and what we left on the table that we shouldn’t have. [I realized] it was the story of our girls. We got too much into teaching and challenges and photo shoots and eliminations. So you’ll see in cycle 19 so much of the story will be getting to know the girls, whether emotional or comedic. There’s a cycle one rawness to it.

Click over to THR for the rest of the interview. This is sure to be interesting, because all these changes coincide with the debut of Naomi Campbell‘s reality modeling competition, The Face. That show will be hosted by Nigel Barker, who Tyra recently let go as part of Top Model‘s overhaul. Let the battle for ratings commence!


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