Former “America’s Next Top Model” judge Jay Manuel has announced plans for a book titled The Wig The Bitch And The Meltdown, a fictional novel inspired by his 18 seasons with the series. Slated to launch on August 3rd, the book was published without input from show host Tyra Banks with whom Manuel doesn’t have a relationship.
One chapter titled “The Meltdown” features fictional show host #KeishaKash going berserk on a contestant, which Manuel confirms was inspired by Banks’ infamous, “We were rooting for you!” scene.
Commenting on the recent reexamination of controversial exchanges on the show (click here for the uproar over the Season 6 tooth gap episode), Manuel pushed back on producer Ken Mok’s recent claim that many of the show’s creative choices were made made by a team of people.
“Many times when you’re working in an environment like that, you have to listen to your executive producers, and ultimately the two voices at the top were Ken and Tyra. There were sometimes several objections by other producers and myself about layers that were added to creative, and we were just told to execute,” Manuel said in an interview with Variety.
Still Manuel doesn’t think the Tyra take downs are entirely fair. He explained, “I do think it’s a little unfair for people to persecute Tyra now, especially because she has already taken heat for her past executive decisions in past years.”
However, Manuel has no defense for a season four episode whose challenge was themed on race swapping. He explained, “I disagree with that statement of people saying it was a different time. I really do. It didn’t fly then. That wasn’t cool in 2004. But, I guess the mentality, at the time, was that the show took off in a way that no one could expect, so in Cycle 4, the pressure was on to deliver bigger than even Cycle 3.”
As bad as that particular episode was, Manuel maintains Banks deserves credit for pushing forward diversity in the fashion industry by casting trans and plus-size models as well as contestants of all races and sexual orientation throughout the seasons. He noted, “Tyra is a pioneer in many respects and I have nothing but respect for her in everything that she’s accomplished in business. The fashion industry is a difficult industry.”Absolutely.