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'America's Next Top Model': Return of the shrieking lovelies!

September 20, 2007 |  8:35 am

Sep_2007_jodicmnc_500 Oh, "Top Model," how I've missed you!  It's been several long months since Cycle 8 wrapped up, and how I've been pining for tales of $25 weaves, hysterical crying at the sight of famous people, "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert"-inspired stage shows and the answer to the burning question: Is she a plus-sized model or a skinny girl with some pudge?

And all that was in the first 15 minutes.

This season opened on a Caribbean cruise, and you could tell the producers were utterly disappointed that just one girl was felled by seasickness.  After they strutted their runway walk in life preservers in front of Miss J, the women were interviewed by J, Tyra and Jay (we're all totally on a first-name basis by this point) to determine who made the cut.

Now, after nine go-arounds, the women who audition to be finalists on this show have the process down to a science.  Sure, you have to have the looks -- but your personality needs to stand out in front of the judges as well.  We have Ebony, who goes from catty to crying over her mother's drug abuse in 10 seconds flat; Yale student Victoria who admitted she went on the show as a joke and took awkward to an art form; Heather, a stunner who has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome; and Kimberly, who bought Tyra a toy horse from her hometown. Giddyup!

Beyond the amateur dramatics, the first episode of "Top Model" was a touch anticlimactic -- this year, the CW released the names and visages of the final 13 women a few weeks in advance.  Being spoiled to which women get through left a bad taste in the mouth -- those who checked out the website before the show knew from the get-go that Marvita, a woman with a ghastly history of being abused, wasn't going to make it as a finalist, which made the emotional revelation of her rape seem gratuitous.  Then again, who ever said fashion was about taste?

-- Ann Donahue