Police blame 'Top Model' producers for New York City audition chaos
By John Bracchitta, 03/16/2009
Manhattan police are blaming planning errors by America's Next Top Model's producers for the Saturday afternoon stampede of wannabe models outside of the show's New York City open casting call for the show.
"The producer of the show didn't notify the NYPD, so there were no cops specifically assigned there," a police official told the New York Daily News about the lack of a police presence at the event. "They needed to alert the police before the event."
New York City's Mayor Michael Bloomberg also weighed in on the situation and seemed to imply that police had not been properly informed of the large crowd of auditioners that were going to be present:
"If you're going to have an event where there's the remotest chance that the crowd is going to be bigger than you expect ... call the precinct and make sure they know," he told the Daily News in a Monday report. On Sunday, America's Next Top Model's creator/host Tyra Banks and executive producer Ken Mok issued a statement on The CW's website commenting on the incident and pledging that the show would cooperate with police in the investigation.
"We are concerned by the events that occurred Saturday afternoon in the vicinity of the New York City casting call for the next cycle of America's Next Top Model," the statement read. "At this time, we still don't know all the details of what happened or what triggered the incident. We appreciate the efforts of the NYPD and will assist them in any way possible in this matter."
The wild scene occurred outside Manhattan's Park Central New York Hotel -- where the casting call for the CW reality modeling competition was being held -- on Saturday after hundreds of people began running from the scene after a car began smoking in the street near the crowd of waiting auditioners that were packing the sidewalks outside the hotel.
According to eyewitnesses, the stampede began after false rumors that the vehicle contained a bomb began circulating through the crowd.
"People were really freaking out about the smoke," Sedrick Myrtil, the overheated car's 21-year-old driver, told the Daily News. "There was pandemonium, and the cops got really upset about my car."
Two people were sent to the hospital while four other declined treatment for injuries. Additionally, two women and a man were arrested for disorderly conduct while the audition was shut down by police as well.
With the casting call, which was only open to women who were 5'7 or shorter, canceled, some of the girls who had waited on the line for their chance to get onto the show are now asking for a second casting call to be scheduled so they can get a second chance at stardom.
"I want Tyra to realize that we were cheated, and it wasn't fair," auditioner Babyann Hernandez told the Daily News. "I'm tired, angry, hurt, confused, and I didn't even get to try out."