Tim Gunn reveals an unnamed supermodel and TV host told Heidi Klum to cancel and quit Project Runway
In a letter the Making the Cut co-creator and host penned to his longtime "TV wife" Heidi Klum published by Good Housekeeping, the fashion guru dropped a brow-raising factoid about the origins of Project Runway.
Gunn, who served as a mentor to contestants on the fashion design competition series that ran on both Bravo and Lifetime, wrote about how nervous he was when he came aboard the show for its first season and how Klum "wrapped an arm" around him for comfort.
He went on to do the same. "Later in that season, I got to return one of your many kindnesses and offers of support. This time you were nervous about how the show would be received," he wrote. "You had shown a preview to so-and-so (another supermodel and host of another fashion-related show) who said to you, 'It looks awful. Cancel the show and quit.' This time, I took your hand and we sat and huddled."
He continued, "'Think about it,' I remember saying. 'She's nervous and jealous. You and this show are competition for her. She wants to make you nervous and upset. Trust me. There's nothing to be concerned about and everything to feel confident about.' You leaned over and kissed me. And we had a fabulous season!"
Signs indicate this unnamed model and TV host may have been Tyra Banks. Project Runway premiered in 2004, and the Banks-hosted America's Next Top Model had been airing since 2003.
This past March, Jay Manuel, a.k.a. Mr. Jay on ANTM, appeared on the Just the Sip podcast with host Justin Sylvester and recalled an exchange between Klum and Banks during a Victoria's Secret shoot.
"I was still doing [Banks'] makeup at the time," he said. "Heidi was in the chair next to her. She was having her hair blown out and she goes, 'You know what would be amazing? What if you did the same show but with designers?' And catch this, Tyra went, 'That'll never work. Designers aren't as interesting.' And Heidi just went off and was like, 'Okay,' and [Project Runway executive producer] Desiree Gruber and Heidi said, 'Oh, we got a show for you and it's gonna be called Project Runway.' Boom! Born."
"Needless to say, 'that other show' became a big hit," Gunn wrote in his letter, referring to Project Runway. "We made 16 seasons together! Remember the night of our Emmy win for cohosts? That show dragged on and on and on with our category being second to last. At every break, we snuck out for champagne, lots of champagne. By the time the show finally got to our category, we were bombed — nervous, jittery, laughing bombed. WE WON!"
Representatives for Banks didn't immediately respond to EW's request for comment.
The second season of Gunn and Klum's new fashion design competition series together, Making the Cut, is set to premiere July 16 on Amazon Prime Video, with new episodes available weekly.