Naomi vs. Tyra, Again?: Naomi’s New Modeling Competition, The Face


While devouring a waffle this morning, I received an email from one of my close friends and pageant expert, Delano Sweeting, about the new Naomi Campbell modeling competition series on Oxygen entitled, “The Face.” This was no surprise to me as I was wondering how in the world Tyra Banks could start ANTM and not have invited more historical greats such as Ms. Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, and Linda Evangelista.

What’s more interesting is reading about the firing of Jay Manuel, Nigel Barker, and Miss Jay. Now, I wasn’t necessarily surprised by the action  – we all knew that a decision like this would have to happen for the sake of the show –  but more so the way it has been communicated to the press. With these three all having been with the show since the beginning, I considered the term “firing” to be rather brusque and insensitive. I really do feel it could have been handled much better. If Tyra is using the term fired and then claiming amicable relationships and “future projects. . .  we’re all a family” it just seems like inconsistent messaging, especially knowing that the term firing has a very nasty connotation. It doesn’t seem like the best “damage control,” especially knowing that many of her viewers may be attached to these personas.

That notwithstanding, let’s talk about the facts: Tyra’s franchise ANTM is suffering and ratings are at an all-time low and now Naomi is coming out with a show that might reunite the “Trinity” (Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington). Although I hate tabloids, this does look like it’s going to be the revival of an old battle, Naomi vs. Tyra. As I analyze the way this new show is being marketed and how it’s receiving quite a bit of buzz, I can’t help but think of everything that Naomi seems to be doing right in the creation of this new franchise. Not only is this the opportune time with ANTM loosing momentum and buzz, but this almost promises to be something different.

With show after show on ANTM and ratings plummeting, America needs more and I think we are beginning to lose our faith in ANTM being able to deliver on its promise to aspiring models. As all entrepreneurs know well, this has exposed a need in the industry for something new, engaging, and innovative and there’s  a possibility that Naomi may do a better job.  Also, if Naomi is joining forces with Linda and Christy, it may create more buy-in with a wider range of audiences combining their three fan bases as opposed to Tyra’s one.

With the buzz of Naomi’s new show and the seeming decline of Tyra’s, this ensures that this is going to be one interesting year in fashion on the television/reality television circuit. This may be ushering in a new era of model competitions with more backing, more prestige, OR, this may be just the boost that Tyra needs to truly be innovative with her business model and re-evaluate everything that hasn’t worked thus far. With the current cycle being a competition of British models versus American models, I’m sure we are all on the same page when we say that ANTM just isn’t what it used to be. And, since a tree is only as good as its fruit, here is another more disconcerting fact: there have been 18 cycles of ANTM, yet none of the models that have been chosen have experienced stardom anywhere near what they or even we might have expected. Instead, they won the show and then quickly disappeared from our conscience as Tyra’s pull proved less than convincing in establishing their careers and success.

Let’s hope this is the surge of energy that Tyra needs to improve the quality of her show, selection, and opportunities for her models. If not, there is a strong possibility that, although Tyra has successfully brought the modeling competition franchise to the air, this may be her only contribution if Naomi finds a way to do what she has done and but better. Tyra may have had the guts to start it, but Naomi may be the one to revive this dying idea of modeling competition television series.

In the eyes of viewers all across the nation, this may be a showdown of the century, wit to wit and pump to pump: Naomi vs. Tyra, again!

Now, who do you think will end up on top? 

“If it’s worth your eyes, don’t forget to cc:Keith!”