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''America's Next Top Model'': The name game

On ”America’s Next Top Model,” the girls are left to their own devices in picking memorable new names (with results like Wholahay), and some have a tough time making faces

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America's Next Top Model
De Yonker

America's Next Top Model

TV Show
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”America’s Next Top Model”: The name game

Jaslene and Derek Zoolander, separated at birth? After yet another stunningly unimaginative ANTM multiple-photo shoot (ladies, pick your four dominant personalities! And style yourselves this time, because we’re sick and tired of y’all!), the eight remaining girls went before the judges — only for Nigel to correctly assess that all of Jaslene’s photos looked exactly the same. Which would make her a sentimental cha-cha-ing diva drag queen. Unfortunately, that title was already taken this week by a rough-looking Miss Banks, who seemed to be channeling Lindsay Lohan with those raccoon eyes and ’80s headband.

(BTW: Your regular TV Watcher, Vanessa Juarez, is moving today, but she’ll be back next Wednesday for more Top Model goodness.)

In the vein of Beyoncé and her stage personality, Sasha, ANTM was about alter egos — it all started with the first challenge, when Twiggy got the kids together and explained how having an interesting (read: weird) name is the key to all success in modeling.

The girls then had to come up with their own versions of Iman, Giselle, and, yep, Tyra, and they proved themselves as hopelessly inept at this exercise as they have in recent shoots, despite the presence of a big-time celebri…oh, wait, it was just last cycle’s runner-up, Melrose, formerly Melissa Rose. (Apparently this cycle’s whiz kids needed a living, breathing visual aid to serve as inspiration.) Renee took off that silly head scarf in time to muse about whether or not she should use her childhood nickname: ”Growing up, all my nicknames were mean things like Canoe Feet, but I’m not going to be like, ‘Hi, I’m Canoe Feet.’ ” Um, good call. Dionne won the worst-of title with Wholahay, and at this point I have to express my disappointment in Twiggy. Up until now, the former Lesley Hornby had served as the voice of reason on this show — she’s not unpredictable like Janice, not calculating like Tyra, and she genuinely seems to care about the girls. But she actually sent them off with these names to a party — some kind of Hollywood Hills bash promoting SmartWater. (Bill Maher and the Mowry twins? Is this not the most random guest list ever?) The challenge was to confidently and convincingly embody their alter egos.

Thus, Sarah introduced herself as ”Moe” to party guest Benny Medina, Tyra’s agent and this challenge’s guest judge. Jael stalked party guest 50 Cent. (”If I need you, I’ll send smoke signals,” he said. Brilliant!) He got fed up and pushed her in the pool, where she was soon joined by a squealing Natasha, who, like, totally forgot that this was a, like, challenge. When it came time for their interview, Medina (rightly) tossed both soaking-wet models out of his poolside lounge and ended up selecting Dionne/Wholahay as the challenge winner. Her prize, I’ll admit, was pretty cool — modeling Keds footwear in a Seventeen advertorial.

As an aside, I have to say I wish Mel had won cycle 7, if only because CariDee’s Life as a CoverGirl is so damn boring. This week we learned that Cari was doing ”summer hair modeling” for Seventeen and that she was (duh) wearing CoverGirl makeup for the shoot. Come on, CariDee, at least with Naima’s segments we got to watch the evolution of the faux-hawk, and Eva even brought her mom along once or twice.

On to the multiple-personality photo shoot, where Jay cut down Natasha’s ”sexy” expression by telling her it looked like there was ”dog poo on the sidewalk and you’re smelling it.” Ugh. This did, though, get a pretty convincing ”surprised” expression from her for the next shot. Renee whined some more about being the group outcast, and Whitney, acting out her ”comedian” personality, stuck her tongue out and rolled her eyes around. It was childish and unfunny, and yet the only guidance Jay gave her was in regards to an arm placement that made her look zaftig. Which brings me back to the same thing I always wonder when I watch this show — why has no one at Bankable splurged on real modeling classes and coaches for these girls? (And I’m not talking runway workshops with Miss Jay.) Of course, everyone knows that ANTM isn’t meant to find the next Cindy or Linda — it’s pure entertainment, which I guess explains why Sarah’s poses reflected all four of her ”personalities”: innocent, angry, sad, and happy. Zoloft, anyone?

It was a rough week at home, what with this whole tiff between Renee and, um, everyone, which meant it was time for another episode of There’s an Issue in the House, So I Must Come Psychoanalyze Everybody Until We All Cry, starring Tyra Banks. She was all earth mother in her chunky earrings and headband, listening to the girls moan about missing their families and how Renee has ”rubbed everybody wrong.” As the first tear hit dewy cheek, I flipped to HBO for a few minutes of Harry Potter.

The judging panel was relatively tame tonight, since crazy-hyper Jael had managed to eke out a few nice photos, and in a total surprise, given last week’s drubbing from Jay Manuel (he called her the worst of the group), Whitney once again managed to avoid elimination — barely. (Cheer up, Whit — even cycle 5 victor Nicole once found herself in the bottom two.) The dull, possibly schizophrenic Sarah dragged her skinny butt home, and we’re down to seven girls.

So, TV Watchers, what do you think? How scripted was Paris and Nicole’s party cameo? Might Rubenesque Whitney actually have a shot at the title? And how long before someone slaps Jael with a restraining order?