Nigel Barker: Andre Leon Talley shakes up 'Top Model' judging panel
By Christopher Rocchio, 02/26/2010
Nigel Barker "thoroughly enjoyed" serving on America's Next Top Model's fourteenth-season judging panel, and it was partly due to the addition of new judge Andre Leon Talley.
"Having Andre up there is kind of giving us more of that spunk to the show, because we're not up there as judges to get along," Barker told E! News in a Thursday report.
"We're up there as judges, as experts in our own right and, I gotta say, there are a few head-to-head judging battles almost, where the judges get at it... And there were tears this season!"
The Vogue editor-at-large joined Barker and Top Model creator Tyra Banks as a regular member of the show's judging panel for its fourteenth season -- replacing J. "Miss J" Alexander, who has moved to a mentor role.
"He is a larger-than-life personality. The girls love Andre... He has a soft side," Banks told E! News.
"In the first episode, one of the girls breaks down crying and Andre was actually the softest with her and, from behind a desk, figuratively hugged her and supported her when she was feeling extremely insecure. I didn't know that we were going to get that from him. You get this fashionista but you also get this, like, dad character."
Talley confirmed both Barker and Banks' assessment of his judging style.
"I can be nice and harsh," he told E! News. "Hard is not the word I would use. Harsh, nice, but not the hardest, no."
Once the 13 contestants are whittled down to four or five, the competition moves to New Zealand -- where Top Model photo director Jay Manuel said he came face-to-face with Talley's harsh side.
"Andre and I got into a bit of a scuffle over which girl should be moving on and which girl should be staying behind," Manuel told E! News.
"It was a healthy discussion, but it was very emotional. I remember saying something, and I looked at Nigel, Tyra and Andre, and they all looked at me with their mouths hanging open. They were so shocked."