On ''America's Next Top Model,'' the girls struggle to reenact infamous scenes with help from the former contestants who lived them; plus, Renee and Dionne get special deliveries

By Vanessa Juarez
Updated April 12, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
America's Next Top Model
Credit: De Yonker

”America’s Next Top Model”: Acting out

Hi again, Top Model friends,

I have missed you, and I’m elated to be back. Judging from the last few weeks and this ep, things are really getting turned inside out.

This edition of ANTM started by addressing all of the Renee hoopla: mean, nice, mean, nice. It seems she’s making an effort to be the latter, but Renee’s an operator. And people who are operators — which I had her pegged as from the start — always resort to their old ways, even if deep down inside they want to be a good person. Meanwhile, it turns out that not only does Mama Renee have a son, but Natasha and Dionne both have adorable squishy little girls. All three deserve props for taking on the responsibilities of motherhood at such a young age while simultaneously looking good enough to pursue a dream as daunting as this one. Forgive me — this show is making me soft.

Next up: Tyra mail. The challenge is acting. The coach? None other than James Lipton from Inside the Actors Studio Tia Mowry, of Sister, Sister fame, who’s now on a CW show nobody watches called The Game. Tia was so thorough with her two-minute acting tutorial that she sent the girls off with a script, featuring lines they’d have to learn to create three character in, meh, two hours. Nothing could have prepared me for the guest star who’d judge the challenge. An un-mustachioed Efren Ramirez came out from behind the stage and introduced himself as Pedro Sanchez from Napoleon Dynamite ”…or someding.” Ha. I think we all should vote for Pedro — that he be elected to a permanent position on Top Model. So Renee and (by proxy) Dionne won the challenge only to be given ”I Voted for [Your Name Goes Here]” pink tees. Crickets ensued.

”A T-shirt?” a flabbergasted Dionne later asked in the confessional. ”Whatcha going to do with a T-shirt?” Oh, silly girls. If the dude who played Pedro is in on something, you gotta know you’re going to get your chain yanked. The actual prize was a surprise guest visit from their families, which Natasha became supremely depressed about as she watched Dionne and Renee bond with their kids. (In hindsight, it was a little disappointing for us too, considering we might have gotten a peek at Natasha’s much older American husband.) And how about that story Dionne nonchalantly told about her mom being paralyzed because some jealous guy shot her when she was going to marry someone else? Holy crap.

Seeing as how the girls learned so much about acting, Jay and company thought there’d be no better photo-shoot concept than having them ”portray specific infamous characters.” Perhaps in the vein of Joan Crawford or Faye Dunaway, right? Wrong. Before Jay even uttered the words ”Payless Shoe Source,” I should have caught on to the lame non-theme. First Jay announced the premise with the kind of over-the-top enunciation one uses to mask a lack of enthusiasm. Secondly, Jay used air quotes when he said, ”infamous.” As for the Payless part…I mean, I used to wear Jordaches in middle school. But for Top Model? You can’t have models wearing cheap shoes: Pieces of plastic or other non-biodegradable materials might slice into their heels.

At the beginning of the season, Jaslene and Jael seemed unstoppable. Now they’re having a hard time bringin’ it to the photo shoots. Jaslene was supposed to portray Bre, whose season 5 drama was over the granola-bar burglar she could never catch. Jaslene does great things when she has to exude a mean, chiseled look, but when her eyes soften up, so does her connection to the camera. Ditto for Jael, whose poses lack the flow of someone like Natasha, who, by the way, has magically climbed the learning curve.

When Nina wrote up the TV Watch a couple of weeks ago (thanks, Nina!), she was right on target with her assessment of Whitney. And it’s disappointing that she was right. Even wrapped up in that haute couture of a bath towel, Whitney was absolutely beautiful, but she resorted to the same old looks: the raised eyebrow, the ol’ finger-to-the-lip pose. Ironically, her best photos are the ones when her eyes are closed or she’s looking away from the camera. It was definitely her time to go.

I don’t know about you all, but the Joanie veneer-and-straightening experience was not one I needed to relive. I’m not saying this because I’ve been a Renee hater all this time, but her performance in the dentist chair was only so-so. She tries too hard to express the emotion of the photo and forgets that it still needs to be radiant. (Though, after looking at her photo for a third time, it struck me as a dead ringer for one of those great Candies ads you see in Rolling Stone.)

As for Dionne, she had to reenact Kim’s girl-on-girl limo kiss, which she wasn’t too enthusiastic about at first. ”I don’t even kiss my own damn boyfriend,” she said, which is hilarious considering that she later admitted she actually enjoyed the up-close-and-personal poses with Kim. Now that boyfriend of hers is one of two things: excited or jealous.

With the exception of her ups and downs with the ”evil, possessed” hair weave, the one constant throughout this entire competition has been Brittany’s ability to command the camera. Those twins were in the photo with her, but they were completely ancillary. Mark my words: Brittany will be in the top two.

My ranking of the contestants this episode:

7. Whitney

6. Jael

5. Jaslene

4. Renee

3. Dionne

2. Natasha

1. Brittany

XO, Vanessa

PS: Did anyone see that bizarro Caress commercial featuring Kate Walsh and Carson Kressley during that last break? And if so, did anyone go to Caressfairytales.com? I did. The site features Dancing With the Stars-meets-Skinemax-meets-Cinderella parodies with Kate Walsh narrating. It’s quite, um, special.

PPS: What did you think about this episode? Who should have been sent home, and who do you think is next to go? And does Brittany take better pictures with or without the possessed hair weave?

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