The girls get serious about cancer during a photo shoot, except for one sunny face, and Tyra gets up in it

By Michael Slezak
Updated September 27, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
Jim DeYonker

America's Next Top Model

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”America’s Next Top Model”: Smoked out by Tyra

OMG guys! So tonight I attended a work-related event, and didn’t get home till, like, really late, but don’t think for a second I was stressed about this week’s America’s Next Top Model TV Watch. No way. Quite the opposite. I decided to focus on the teachings of my favorite new self-help guru, Dr. Mila, the eco-friendly blonde swami who believes that by, like, concentrating on the positive, you can make the negative go away.

Problem is, after I spent an hour on the couch focusing on all the bright, shiny programs on my DVR (positive!), I returned to my computer and found an alarmingly blank screen staring back at me (negative!). Where the heck was the witty, insightful, 750-word column I had visualized? And how did Mila wind up as the first Top Model hopeful to get the boot in cycle 9?

Maybe it was the judging panel’s inability to understand why Mila laughed almost continuously during an antismoking photo shoot in which she was made up as ”losing hair from chemotherapy,” not to be confused with Jenah’s ”hair loss from chemotherapy.” (Okay, said photo shoot did make Mila look ridiculously like the bloodsucking cave dwellers in the spelunking horror flick The Descent.) Or maybe it was that Mila was marked for early elimination back during episode 1, when she announced to Tyra that she didn’t believe in crying.

Whatever the reason, you knew Mila was headed the way of the acid-wash jean once Tyra looked her in the eye and offered this critique: ”You know how to look damaged and destroyed, but you have to work on looking elegant and giving something besides just being a pretty girl.” And still — in that confidence-quashing moment — Mila refused to turn on the waterworks. Why not just hurl a cellphone at Tyra’s forehead, head back to the Top Model house, pack up her belongings, and go home?

Of course, now that her modeling dream is over, maybe Mila can spend time thinking positive thoughts about our embattled planet. ”I’m really supportive of the environment kick,” she said as part of her elegantly crafted mission statement. ”And it really is important to just be aware of what keeps our Earth good.”

And it’s not just Mila doing her part. As Mr. Jay announced on the show tonight, Top Model‘s ninth cycle will be a green one. Which might explain why Tyra wore a ruched Hefty Cinch Sak to the elimination ceremony.

Let’s just pray nobody decides to recycle the idea for the episode’s photo shoot — a bizarre, two-faced concept in which each model got to look glam smoking a cigarette, then pose as the mirror’s reflection, representing a harmful side effect of smoking. Watching the ladies try to embody such conditions as ”collapsed lung,” ”severe gingivitis,” ”face tumor,” and ”stillborn child” (yeesh!) reminded me of last season’s triumphant ”issues” shoot, during which dim bulb Kathleen failed to grasp the meaning of ”anti-fur.” Sadly, none of the women delivered a sound bite as priceless as Kathleen’s: ”I believe that if the animal’s alive, you shouldn’t kill it to make a fur coat or anything, but if it’s already dead, then you can take the skin off, and just make a coat.” But despite a jank concept that wouldn’t pass muster for a local PSA, let alone a high-fashion magazine, the majority of tonight’s contestants wound up with surprisingly saucy photos — signaling the potential for one of the tightest Top Model seasons ever.

NEXT: Picking favorites

Based on the notes I scrawled during the episode, I’d have to tab Lisa (”ferocious!”) as the front-runner, but I also had immediate positive responses to Janet (”hot!”), Chantal (”nice!”), Ambreal (”fierceness” — and no small accomplishment with a tracheotomy tube), Heather (”ethereal”), and Saleisha (”pretty”). Then again, until Tyra & Co. dole out the makeovers, it’s probably not wise for any of us to lay our money down. (There will be makeovers next week, right? ‘Cause Bianca needs new hair, Victoria needs new eyebrows, and Kimberly needs, well, something that’ll stop me from asking myself, ”Who the heck is that?” every time she’s on screen.) What’s more, I’m also worried Tyra’s going to exact a heavy price for the spot-on imitation that Saleisha, Bianca, and Lisa did of an elimination ceremony, right down to the last, ludicrous pauses.

Then again, I need to remind myself that Tyra can’t hire Benny Ninja as a fashion mentor and then turn around and take herself (or her show) too seriously. I mean, I can almost see it now: Somewhere in a West Hollywood laundromat, there’s a sign asking effeminate men between the ages of 18 and 34 to drop by the next Top Model taping for a random guest appearance. (Hi, Aswirl Twins!) Because, hey, if you can’t get a model wannabe to cry on camera, the next best thing is to have a crazy dude pop up from behind an Old Navy mannequin and shout pap like ”Basic’s too basic!” Ahhh, Top Model, it’s so good to have you back where you belong.

Given all the hype from last week’s previews, were you let down by the juvenile face-off between Bianca and Lisa? Were you as infuriated as me by the mean girls who are acting as if Heather’s Asperger’s syndrome were akin to the bubonic plague? If you were forced to hire Benny Ninja or Miss Jay as your personal shopper, which hot mess would you choose? And did you love the bereaved look on Jenah’s face when Tyra declared this a ”no-smoking cycle”?

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America's Next Top Model

Tyra Banks searches for the next great supermodel
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