Wednesday, September 21, 2011

ANTM All-Stars: Brand Names

Dipped into X Factor, but I'm not feeling it yet! I don't like the audition rounds done in a stadium--it feels too artificial. Might pop back in once they've winnowed down the field...and if they fix the sound mixing so I don't have to crank up the show and then dial down the commercials!

Anyway, enough griping, it's time to get back on the Top Model bus! We meet up with our All-Kinda-Stars after they've heard about the fabulous prizes offered to this cycle's winner. I am more distracted by the fact that every single one of them, in confessional, is wearing a headscarf or bandanna or other hair-covering item. That can mean only one thing: MAKEOVER TIME!!! (Or more specifically, that these interviews were shot post-makeover, which may or may not happen tonight.) Who'll get this cycle's shitty weave? Who'll be shaved bald? Only time will tell...

The girls reflect on Brittany's departure last week, and I have to give the gold star to Angelea. She says with downcast eyes, "So Brittany left, and I was all...OH WELL!" Ha! Someone is speaking truth to power. Well, to producer. I must observe that a lot of these girls are looking seriously rode hard and put up wet in their confessionals.  Does Angry Stylist's brother work here as Angry Lighting Director?

Tyra's here!!! She pops into the house and summons the girls, who descend dressed like a 1st grade Halloween parade. Apparently they were "playing dress-up," as you do with a house full of 30something women. Tyra's here to introduce the girls to her brand strategist, Martin Lindstrom, whom she says is harsh, but gets results. Well, Ty Ty Baby is proof of that, I suppose. And then...he speaks. WTF? His features are weirdly animated, but his blond eyebrows are graying, so he looks a little featureless somehow, and he's speaking with an indeterminate accent that I find super-hard to understand. Oh, these girls are doomed.

Apparently, ANTM polled an assortment of fans to determine each girl's image. (Didn't we do this last week? They all have "different" personae, but in fact they can be boiled down to Bitch, Loud Bitch, Stealth Bitch, Old Bitch....)

Lisa is first, and is told that the fans don't trust her at all. Her "value" is "daring." I feel like they cut out an explanation of "value," or perhaps I just didn't understand Martin's accent. But I think it's a lemons-into-lemonade sort of thing. So Lisa is told that to enhance her brand of "daring," she should become a constant rule-breaker. (It also helps when the producers put the "daring" chyron under your name for easy reference.) Lisa is pleased by this.

Sheena is asked if people find her annoying. She says they can, but Martin disagrees. He then asks if they think she's sexy (yes) and smart (no).  Basically, Sheena has no clue how she's perceived (as befits an "all-star" we couldn't remember was on the show). So her value is "unexpected." Sheena then yokes this laboriously to an observation about Asian stereotyping that I don't think is fully earned, but girlfriend is doing her best to build a story arc for herself, and who am I to stand in her way?

Kayla is asked what makes her different from all the other girls, and right away she says, "LGBT, that's me!" Martin says no! Apparently, being lesbian is SO five years ago, and it's not special anymore. Kayla looks stricken, and tells us in confessional that she was offended, because she's proud to represent this group. I will say that in the house, she looks gorgeous in a white hooded dress that I think Pink wore in a video.

[Commercial interlude: have you seen the latest dancing hamsters Kia commercial? The song they play is always in my Zumba class, and I'm sorry to report that the hip shaking robots have more groove than I do.]

We're back to the house, and still with Kayla. Her value is "free," because Martin says she needs to think of something new with which to brand herself. She doesn't look sold...mostly confused.

On to Shannon! Sadly, Martin says that people think she's boring.  I'm going to guess that her value will be something like "dependable" or "consistent." Trustworthy! I was close. (But Angelea pipes up in confessional to say, "What did you expect? You're boring, bitch." Oh, is Shannon Boring Bitch? Got it.)

Allison worries that people will find her annoying (as I'm beginning to), but Martin assures her that no! People find her unique, and that's her value word. (Given the average viewer, I'm betting they actually found her "very unique," but my discerning readers know that there is no need to modify the word unique.)

For Angelea, people were asked what product they would associate with her, and Martin tells her they said shoes! Angelea is delighted until Martin elaborates: they said "cheap shoes." Somehow we hop from that to her value, which is "persistence." Um, whatever. Guess I won't understand till I walk a mile in her cheap shoes.

Bre looks like a beautiful soccer mom in her shot. She's another one I can barely remember from her season, so I can't imagine what people thought of her. We don't find out, except to learn that her word is "girlfriend." Bre really needs to hurry up and learn the words "camera time" or she's going to be out on her beautiful soccer mom butt.

Camille is also getting the bum's rush--her word is "proud." (I suspect the audience feedback wasn't stated quite so positively.) And apparently we're bored with Martin, because Isis gets "inspiration" (yawn) and Laura gets "loveable" faster than I can type this sentence.

But never fear, we get the whole dog and pony show for Alexandra. "I hate to tell you," Martin says with a gleeful smirk, "but people think you're so annoying, because you say a lot of things, and quite often there's no value in what you say." That's pretty much the description of any reality TV star, isn't it? Pick any Parispeidi Kardashilohan out of a hat, and "no value in what you say" would be accurate. Anyway, Alex is heartbroken and trying not to cry as Martin tells her her value is "tough."

Cut to Bianca, who is grinning as she receives her value, "candid." In confessional she tells us that she sees the word as "permission to not hold back any more." Jeez, she's been holding back? I shudder to think about what's coming next. Bre is thrilled with the idea, because she knows the house is going to be insane with free-range Bianca on the prowl.

Wait, did we do Dominique? I don't remember seeing her word. Oh, she got her word right before Allison, with no discussion. She's "survivor." Whoop de doo. We see Dominique and Camille talking about Bianca's word, but not saying anything particularly terrible. Bianca is stagily lurking outside the room where they're talking, however, and then races off to tell the other girls that she is rising above the gossip. Uh-huh. Isis asks, "What did they say?" which you'd think would reveal the fact that Bianca couldn't have heard anything offensive, but she brushes it off with, "It doesn't really matter, gossip is gossip." I am afraid of this woman; she is like the Sun-Tzu of reality TV.

Downstairs, Dominique and Camille tell the other half off the house (mostly older girls) that Bianca's crazy, and they snicker at the fact that she has revised her personality based on being handed a word on a cardboard sign.

Next day, and Jay Manuel meets them to announce that they're going to meet a real Hollywood celebrity, and then Miss Jay pops out of the door with a little blond pixie. The girls put on their Excited Brand faces, but neither I nor they seem to recognize Blondie. Miss Jay covers by telling us, "You all know Miss Ashley Simpson!" Um, is she still a celebrity? But suddenly I don't care because Ashley's here to announce the MAKEOVERS!! Which are now known as Ty-overs. Oy. Laura is worried that all their haircuts will be based on Ashley's bleach-blond pixie cut.

I must also take a moment to observe that all the girls have changed from their "playing dress-up" costumes...except for Lisa, who is still in her giant sunglasses and eyelet bustier with red pants (sort of a red & white Sandy from the end of "Grease" look). Girl, if your clothes could double as a Halloween costume, maybe rethink a piece or two, no?

Alex is getting her hair chopped. Isis and Bianca are getting extensions, and debate the relative tackiness of "weave" versus "extensions." Also, Bianca calls Isis tacky. Isis rolls her eyes beneath her bangs. Sheena is nervous because last time, a chunk of her own hair was pulled out while they did her 'do. This time, she's told that she'll be getting her hair cut very short, and she whips out the stinkeye immediately. But Miss Jay lets her off the hook soon and reveals that he's just messing with her--we cut to her in the confessional with long, wavy tresses and a look of relief on her face.

Bianca is getting her extensions while she chats with Ashley about hair color...nothing is revealed. Cut to Bre, looking anxious as she gets her hair washed--she's going a little shorter to control her poofiness, but Mr. Jay promises "nothing extreme." Cut to Lisa, being introduced to Mr. Yoshi the stylist. Miss Jay teases Lisa by letting her express an opinion, and she says that she thinks "daring" would be if she got to keep her length--but then shows her cards by telling us she's getting married in two months. Oof, sorry girl. Mr. Yoshi is unmoved, and says "You are hiding behind this. What would be daring is to show it off" as he shoves hair away from her face. Lisa says, sounding resigned, "You want to cut all my hair off" and Mr. Yoshi responds, "I WILL cut it off." Even Miss Jay is a little fazed. I hope that, whatever they do, they fix Lisa's atrocious color, which is like the cheapest out-of-a-box strawberry blonde you could imagine.

Back to Alex, getting her fried hair chopped off (only to shoulder length) and she screams aloud because she's "just so excited." Quick cut through 3 or 4 girls, all of whom give quotes along the lines of, "Shut up, you fake bitch." Back to Lisa, who is freaking out over a cut that's, well, about my length. Her hair already looks healthier. She whines to Mr. Jay, who's having none of it. "Big deal, so it takes four months to grow hair. For WHAT? You looked like a dowdy housewife!" Heh.  Kayla's getting her red hair back because none of her fans recognized her with the dark-dyed hair. (You can see her roots, and she appears to be a natural mid-brunette.) She seems cheerful about the prospect. Back to Lisa, and I may have to take back my insinuations about her bad dye job--apparently that cheap tint is her natural color.

And frankly, she has nothing to whine about as we cut to Bre, whom I don't even recognize. The back of her neck is shaved, she's got kind of an 80s asymmetrical thing happening, and she tells us she wants to cry. She says she's lost her confidence and doesn't see how she could possibly win when she can't even look in the mirror, let alone rock a photo shoot. She dashes off to the bathroom, where we hear her through a closed door telling a producer that she wants to get her things and go. The producer asks why, and she says she "was I'm at rage" because they left her with virtually no hair. It's true that the cut she's sporting is in no way "not extreme," although I think she has gorgeous features and could probably pull it off.  But it seems to me, once you've let them shave your head, you might as well stick around, right? It's not like your hair will pop back in if you go home now. Then we get a talking head from her about how if her brand is "girlfriend," she needs to be a girlfriend to herself and stay in the competition. Um, whatever, dude. But she comes out of the bathroom and she looks cute! It's sort of that Rihanna cut from a couple of years ago. She'll be fine. It takes eight years off her face.

We don't spend any time with Dominque or Laura, but we catch glimpses. Dominique has a mane of high- and lowlighted straight extensions--but no bangs to soften her massive forehead! Laura's hair has been cut to just past shoulder length and she has a cute fringe-y bang, with new color. She looks like an actress on a CW show. Not a specific actress--just like she's someone who might work on a CW show. (Er, which she does, so I guess that's not much help!)

Anyway, as we all know, after a trying experience, you want comfort food! In come the Jays with trays full of hot dogs from Pink's, an L.A. institution. I'm pretty sure models aren't supposed to eat hot dogs, though. Their photo shoot will require them to use their new brands to create their own hot dog? Um, so "girlfriend" means "with pickles and onions"? I don't get it. Only Dominique is eating a dog, by the way.

Off the girls trot to Pink's, dressed in gowns and hair and makeup done, to make hotdogs. Laura goes first, and decides to create an all-American dog with chili, BBQ sauce, and onions. Off to set, and it turns out the girls have to eat the dog in the photos. Laura conveys "loveable" by smearing herself with chili, basically--I think she may have misheard and is doing "Courtney Loveable." Photog and Jay are very happy, though.

Camille's up next, and she's all prissy and pose-y with her dog (contents unknown, but involving mustard to match her suit, I think). Jay tells her it's too stiff, and then asks Laura to come show Camille what she did for her shoot. Bianca's talking head tells us how embarrassing that is! Camille's talking head is even bitchier, as she explains that it was hard for her because she hasn't eaten a hot dog in 20 years, where Laura "lives and breathes that stuff every day." Yes, Camille, the problem was that you aren't used to EATING. She gets back on set and is a little looser, but we still end on a side-eye from Jay.

Next up, Angelea. She looks like Paula Abdul! They fixed her color and gave her chestnut hair with waves and volume. She looks a lot less cheap than she usually does. Her shoot seems to be fine, fairly straightfoward--she actually seems a little demure, but it's working for her. We move to Bianca, who takes a minute to warn Laura against stepping into her shoot, lest there be trouble. Laura frowns but says nothing. Bianca goes to town on her hot dog, which appears to be plain, or at least she has no fear of spilling on her dress. I'm more curious about how the dog seems to be getting eaten, but her white white smile remains unstained.

Cut to busty Sheena in wardrobe, for just a moment. That felt like gratuitous cheesecake, but Sheena should be pleased to have her flat stomach immortalized.  Then it's quick shots of Dominique, eating with gusto but grace, and Allison just widening her eyes at the camera a lot, and not really eating. (A girl that hipster has to be a vegetarian, right?)

Sheena decides to do "unexpected" by adding rose petals to her hot dog. Will she have to eat those too? No comment on the rose petals, which are not in evidence for the shoot itself. Jay gives her the helpful direction, "It looks like you have to pee. How would Kim Kardashian eat that hot dog?" I'm guessing furtively, in a darkened room, followed by four hours on the treadmill? No success shown for poor Sheena.

Alexandria comes clomping up in her dress, seeming a little sheepish about her hair. She's sobbing as she tells us she's just (sob) so (gasp) happy! Her hair is kind of a crappy bi-level bob, and she has a Kim Catrall-ish air about her--but I think that's mostly because she still looks 40 years old.  The photographer is happy with her shoot, and she's eating her hotdog sensually, but Kayla tells us she thinks Alex is demonstrating the opposite of her brand, which is supposed to be "tough." Also, Alexandra is really eating the dog, because we keep seeing food stuck in her teeth. Hope they retouch that.

Bre and Bianca are sitting in the corner, and Bianca reveals a sweet side as she tried to cheer Bre up about her hair. BRE! YOUR HAIR IS SUPER-CUTE AND YOUTHIFYING! STOP BEING A BABY.

We see two shots from Isis, perhaps because it's impossible to demonstrate "inspiration" while eating a hot dog. I suppose the show should be praised for not making any one of 1000 offensive hot-dog related jokes when dealing with Isis. Without fanfare, we cut to Shannon, doing pleasantly delicate things with her "trustworthy" dog. She has an awesome dress with a teeny-tiny waist and slightly flared hips that make her look like a Sargent painting.

Kayla looks mostly puzzled, which Laura understands because as she says, "How do you make a hot dog look gay and lesbian and free?" And there's the joke. I suppose the producers had to be allowed something. Anyway, her photos look awful, but her hair is AMAZING. She has a beautiful auburn color now, not that fire-engine shade from her previous season. [Cycle, Abby.] Cycle!

Lisa has created "the Skinny Little Bitch," a veggie hot dog with no bun. She holds the hot dog like a cigar, shoves a handful of lettuce in her mouth, and looks like a skinny (but not younger) Lisa Lampanelli. Jenny McCarthy for a frame or two.

Time for Bre, getting a pep talk from Mr. Jay about the hair. Is this the moment when she rocks it out? Is the girlfriend going to be a girlfriend to herself? The suspense is killing me. She seems a little flat on set, and even Jay acknowledges that she's had a long, dramatic day and is probably worn out. Her shoot didn't seem great, though.

Back at the mansion, we get the "judging is coming" Tyramail, which Sheena reads aloud, e-nun-ci-a-ting in ex-cru-ci-a-ting fashion. Someone plans to use this for her local news anchor audition!

Our judges this week are Tyra, Nigel, ALT and Ashley Simpson, who is wearing a black sleeveless turtleneck with a heart-shaped cutout. Ugh.

Dominique's up first: Tyra and Ashley love the photo, Nigel's not sure it says "survivor," and I'm just grossed out by all the condiments on her fingers.

Bianca looks adorable in her picture, it must be said. She's grinning a little goofily and has thrown up her hands while she presses her knees together. Very approachable.

Shannon has an amazing smile, and ALT and Nigel both like it.

Camille's photo is that hand-over-mouth "oopsie!" pose. She looks too pageanty, according to ALT and Tyra, and Ashley thinks it's more like a snapshot with friends than a model photo.

Laura is licking chili off her wrist in her photo, and Nigel says, "This is more than loveable. It's TOO loveable. I feel I shouldn't be looking at it." She's like a cleaned-up Courtney Love, for sure. Laura is once again wearing Wanda Sue.

Isis is wearing a dress she made, which Tyra loves. Apparently Isis is trying to get a fashion line going? The photo, alas, is not so inspiring. She's chowing down on the hot dog, which is obscuring her face a bit, and she's got one leg hitched on a stool at a too-spread-eagle angle for my tastes. ALT says hellz no, but Tyra thinks it's bad in a good way.

Kayla's pose is like the tight, anxious version of Bianca's. Her arms are tight against the body, her legs are pressed together, and Ashley and Nigel both think it doesn't say "free."

Allison is kind of ripping off Laura's pose, but it's tidier and less smeary. Ashley likes it, but Tyra warns her about getting too cutesy.

Alexandria gets a compliment for her new hair on the runway, but Nigel says her photo doesn't say "tough." It's too sweet. To me, it's kind of catalog--she's in a big red dress, leaning over with one elbow on her knee and kind of laughing. Smile is weird. ALT says something I don't understand, but I think ends on a positive note, and Ashley likes it.

Sheena! Oh, dear, she's given us another crap pose that isn't very exciting. Tyra feels she's lost her flava, and the photo is too safe and sweet.

ALT loves Angelea's look, and Nigel does too. He says it's "endearing, and certainly persistent." I have no clue how a single shot of a smiling girl says "persistent," but she does look great.

Lisa has apparently been styled by Kid Rock for an appearance at the Sturgis Biker Rally. Red bustier, skintight flag leggings, acid wash denim jacket, and an old, old face. Nigel says he likes the hair. Lisa's photo is a cute pose, but I am not in love with the shot of food in her open mouth. However, the panel thinks it's great, fun and daring.

Bre walks up and ALT tells her he loves the hair, which gets us the first smile we've had from Bre since this morning. Tyra calls her out on the long face, and she says she was nervous, but is OK now that she hears the judges love it. Nigel tells her she needs to own it and act like she always loved it. Tyra tells Bre she seems a little subdued, and Bre actually gives a fairly articulate speech about how she's not the same perky girl she was at 19--but then Ashley pipes up to say she's 26 and still like a little kid, so Bre shouldn't lose her spark. (I think Bre maybe shouldn't look to Ashley Simpson as her role model, but that's another story.) Anyway, her picture is pretty, but has no spark in the eye to warm it up.

Deliberations! They like Laura, Angelea, Bianca, and Lisa. Don't care for Camille, Sheena or Kayla. WHO is the beautiful girl who will be leaving us tonight? We won't find out until after...Tyra shaves Nigel's head? WTF? She buzzes all the hair off the top of his head and leaves the sides...but he doesn't throw the girls a bone by staying that way for the results. (Some PA finished him off in the break.)

Judging! Our first girl called is...Lisa! Ick. But Tyra tells us she was called first for best embodying her brand. Next come Bianca, Alex, Laura, Angelea, Dominique, Shannon, Allison, Isis, Bre, and Camille. Our last two are Sheena and Kayla--no way are they getting rid of Kayla yet. Poor Sheena has given two blah photos. Sure enough, Kayla stays in and gets a "you are beautiful and a leader" lecture from Tyra. Sheena is gracious in defeat, and insists she will always be remembered as an All-Star. I find that unlikely.

Tune in next week, when the girls are interviewed by crack reporter Mario Lopez, and have to shoot a photo on stilts, as you do. Keep smizing!

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