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'America's Next Top Model' announces new judges and "pop culture" concept for VH1 revamp


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 07/22/2016 

America's Next Top Model's revamped VH1 version has begun production revealed its new judging panel and format changes.

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The show's new judges are Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Ashley Graham; chief creative officer of Paper magazine Drew Elliott, who was behind Kim Kardashian's "Break the Internet" cover; and stylist Law Roach, who has worked with clients such as Zendaya Coleman, Ariana Grande and Celine Dion, according to USA Today.

The announcement comes two weeks after pop star Rita Ora was confirmed as the new host of America's Next Top Model.

After The CW announced Top Model's cancellation in October 2015, VH1 revealed in February 2016 it had picked up the long-running reality series for a "reinvented" 23rd season that will still be executive produced -- although not hosted -- by Tyra Banks, who served as Top Model's host for all 22 prior seasons.

Banks explained what will make this new edition different from the past two decades.

"It's no longer just about having the highest cheekbones and best pout and the best hair," Banks, who created the franchise, told USA Today.

"My goal is to really get into these girls' heads that I'm not looking for some successful model and I'm not looking for some social-media star. I'm looking for both. I'm looking for a hybrid, because that's where the world is."

America's Next Top Model debuted in May 2003 on UPN and became the first series to air on The CW in September 2006. Its format later launched into 30-plus countries and has been The CW's most successful reality series.

Top Model's 22nd edition, which was supposed to be its last, aired its finale in December 2015.

Banks had said the show ran its course creatively and producers wanted Top Model to go out on a high note. However, there was an immediate initiative to resurrect the show, led by fellow executive producer Ken Mok.

"I thought we were done with the brand," Banks admitted. "But the fact that the brand still has viability, and that VH1 really truly sees a strong future with it, how could I say no to that?"

Unlike seasons past, however, the new concept will apparently include a "pop culture challenge."

"While there never will be a Tyra replacement, what we wanted to do was really infuse that panel with style fashion and pop culture experts," said VH1 executive Chris McCarthy. Ora and the judges "collectively have the power of what is driving fashion and pop culture today."

Ora agrees that the new Top Model show will have a focus on the models' business efforts and brand.

"The approach I wanted to have as a host and judge to the girls is what my career stands for at this moment in time, which is being a businesswoman and being able to do multiple things at the same time, whether it's music or shooting (magazine covers) and being in movies and designing clothes," Ora told the newspaper.

America's Next Top Model will return to New York, and VH1 will air 14 episodes featuring all female contestants. Ora, who has served as a judge on BBC's The Voice and Britain's The X Factor, admitted those two reality shows weren't "as intense" as her new gig on Top Model.

"I actually just finished my first [Top Model] elimination," Ora said. "I can't go into detail, but it was definitely an emotional one."



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