UPN's 'Top Model' gets toned down, third season won't feature a nude photo shoot
By Reality TV World staff, 09/22/2004
Eight months may have passed since Janet Jackson's infamous Superbowl "NippleGate" incident, but this morning's FCC announcement that it was fining CBS $550,000 for broadcasting the scene wasn't the only apparent new ripple to emanate from the wardrobe malfunction's seemingly nevar-ending shockwave.
According to today's New York Daily News, for the first time in its run, this season's third edition of UPN's America's Next Top Model will not feature the nude photo shoot element that had become a memorable part of the show's evaluation process. While executive producer Ken Mok cited creative decisions rather than broadcasting policies as being the driver behind the decision, he did not deny that the increased scrutiny created by the incident has had an impact on the editing of Top Model's subsequent episodes. One such example was last season's much-discussed "hot tub orgy" broadcast. "When [the] incident happened, we were about to air" the hot tub episode, Mok told the Daily News. "They made us go back and re-edit that segment 12 different times, to the point where the emotional tone was totally eviscerated."
While Mok cited a conscious desire to not "repeat ourselves over and over again" as the motivation for the decision to drop the traditional nude photo shoot, the central role that the nude shoot had played in each season's evictions, as well as UPN's subsequent removal of the copies of the Top Model 2 nude photos that it had previously posted on its website (and refusal to comment as to the reason for the move) indicate that the network might be being less than forthcoming on the issue.
During the program's first season, Top Model's nude shoot took place when only four contestants were left. Among the two contestants that refused to participate was Robin, a then 26-year-old Memphis, TN resident who cited moral and religious objections in her refusal, and when the episode concluded, Robin was eliminated. During Top Model's "second cycle," series host and co-creator Tyra Banks decided to crank up the show's initial pressure and scheduled a nude body painting shoot as part of the show's first episode. Similar to Top Model's first season, after refusing to participate, Anna, a then 24-year-old housewife and mother from LaGrange, GA, was eliminated from the competition.
As part of the show's normal process, full-body photos of the body painting challenge featured in Top Model 2's January 13 premiere were posted to the program's UPN.com website, only to suddenly be replaced with facial close-ups in late February. The changes occurred shortly after the initial post-Superbowl "NippleGate" firestorm continued to grow and Viacom President Mel Karmazin, who had been summoned to Congress to testify regarding the incident, had issued a blanket "no-indecency" rule for the company's various broadcasting outlets (which include UPN, as well as CBS, MTV, and Infinity Broadcasting.)
At the time, UPN spokesperson Joanna Lowry declined to comment on the reason for the unusual change, only telling E! that, "Yeah, we updated the site, but we're not going to comment on it beyond that."