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Dalton Ross calls out ''Project Runway''

Dalton Ross calls out ”Project Runway”: EW’s senior editor sees something fishy in the judging on Bravo’s reality show. Plus: more on Stephen King, the best Bond-girl names, and reader mail

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Heidi Klum, Project Runway

Dalton Ross calls out ”Project Runway”

I can’t stitch. I don’t know how to sew. And when it comes to fashion, I’m as clueless as an Alicia Silverstone movie. But it doesn’t matter, because I am so going to be a contestant on the next season of Project Runway. You see, I used to think that you had to be a pretty good designer to make it onto the show, but now I realize that is pure poppycock. (I also realize that the word poppycock went out of style about 50 years ago, but that’s neither here nor there.)

Project Runway has separated itself as the most shameless of all the reality shows in keeping around contestants that have no business being there just because they ”make good TV.” Of course, this is a time-honored tradition of reality TV: Fox’s Paradise Hotel was famous for changing the rules every single week just to keep the most ridiculously obnoxious people (see: Ferrari, Toni) from departing, and The Apprentice has been notorious for letting crackpots (like Sam and Omarosa, among a host of others) who never in a million years could work for Donald Trump stick around for a few extra episodes to keep watercoolers buzzing. (By the way, does anyone really hang out by watercoolers anymore? I mean, I told you about EW’s Michael Endleman, who seems to spend an inordinate amount of time by ours, but he seems like the exception — the very lonely exception — rather than the rule.) In fact, even though I look like a complete tool any time I try to wear a suit, I thought about applying for The Apprentice, just figuring I could act like a lunatic and subsequently impress my mom by getting on national TV for a few weeks, but then it occurred to me: Holy crap, what if I win? I’d have to actually work for Donald Trump! So I scratched that idea of the list.

But this Project Runway thing looks promising. In fact, in some lame casting special they ran to kick off this season, cameras caught up with season 2 winner Chloe, and not only does she not have to work for anybody, I couldn’t really tell if homegirl even had a job! (She blabbed something about a store she owns, but for all I know that could be some sort of front for where she stacks all her folders filled with incriminating evidence on Bravo executives that led to her beating out Daniel Vosovic… but once again, I digress.)

I bring up the Bravo executives because they and the producers are clearly calling the shots, not the ”judges.” How do I know this? Because they tell us at the end of every episode! That’s where you’ll see a super-quick disclaimer that states: ”The judges considered both their scores and input from the producers and Bravo in reaching their elimination decisions.” (The Apprentice runs a similar one.) Translation: ”We keep who’s gonna keep people watching.” Said disclaimer explains why someone like Santino could end up in the bottom three for, like, six weeks in a row, be told his dresses were ”unwearable,” and yet still skate through to the final three. Of course, Santino was that season’s preeminent smack-talker and rabble-rouser (not to mention Tim Gunn impersonator), so there was no way the producers were going to behead their golden goose.

Back in season 1, it was the same deal with wacky Wendy Pepper. She was bitchy. She was cutthroat. And producers loved her for it. Never mind that she possessed little actual talent. Sure enough, she too made it all the way through to Fashion Week. Now, in this latest go-round, we have been introduced to 49-year-old Vincent, whose attempts to craft a dress (and unfortunate hat) out of household objects in week 1 was downright comical. The only thing more comical, however, is Vincent himself, which explains why going into week 5, we are still watching models cringe as they walk his designs down the runway.

I couldn’t help but be amused when that conceited little chump Keith got kicked off the show for possessing guide books that were against the rules. (Bring on the ”reap what you sew” puns!) ”Project Runway is nothing without its integrity and its seriousness of purpose,” said Tim ”Carry On” Gunn after sending the cheater home. That’s all well and good, but as long as the contestants are being kept around more for the quality of their sound bites than for the quality of their dresses, it only holds so much weight. So look for me on season 4! I’ll be the guy who walks around with a parrot on my shoulder and takes a baseball bat to the L’Oreal Make-up Room. The cameras will love me. So the judges will have to as well.

*

OBSESSION OF THE WEEK

I tried and failed to save the Burt Reynolds and Friends Museum. But that’s not to say this column has not had its success stories. Okay, make that singular — success story — but one is a start, right? The affair began two weeks ago, when I wrote about the fact that I had never even met my fellow EW writer Stephen King. Then, last week, lo and behold, Stephen King actually e-mailed in! That was good enough. I was placated. Little did I know that this was merely the first stage in an all-out Stephen King blitz! So which EW staffer finally stepped into corporate HQ to meet with all the editors last week? You got it — my boy SK! It seems I either personally shamed him into making an appearance, or he took pity on me and my little schoolgirl crush. Most likely the latter, but in any event I have to say that outside of a painfully awkward greeting in which we both tried to take part in some sort of hipster-laced soul-shake, it was totally awesome. He came in, hung with the staff, drank lots of water (supplied by Michael Endleman, no doubt) and rapped about his fave TV shows (Battlestar Galactica and The Wire) and why he wants to see the new M. Night Shyamalan movie. (I guess he truly is a sucker for a good horror show.) He told me he totally dug the column (nice of him to lie like that) and we posed for a few pictures that were almost as awkward as our original botched handshake greeting. See for yourself: