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'America's Next Top Model': America's next top cardboard cutout

April 1, 2009 | 10:06 pm

54369 Each cycle of "America's Next Top Model" has a girl who has a problem with another girl, but rarely is there an all-out house war. Yet that's how tonight's episode started. After Celia Ammerman foolishly told the judges about what she perceived to be Tahlia Brookins' lack of desire to be in the competition, the girls divided up. Aminat Ayinde and Teyona Anderson yelled at Allison Harvard, which Allison took with aplomb, proclaiming Tahlia's self-esteem speech from the stairs "Too much 'Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul' for me." Then Natalie got into it with Aminat and egged her on and on, all while seeming completely at ease and Aminat worked herself up.   

The girls then had one of the dumbest and most entertaining challenges in "Top Model" history (the drama of which was demonstrated by a mannequin falling down and shattering). First they had to practice expressions. Allison complained when guest judge Beth Stern judged her big eyes: "Yes, I'm sorry I have big eyes, they're on my face, they're not going anywhere." Tahlia, after her victory last week, was rather cocky. And Beth Stern, despite her picking on Allison, seems like a very nice lady. 

That was just the warmup, however. The girls had to stick their heads into cutouts of Tyra Banks photos and try to guess how Tyra posed in the pictures. I hope somebody saved those cutouts so they'll be on display when Tyra Banks debuts her own theme park.

After this, Tahlia and Celia had a -- surprise! -- very calm and adult discussion about what happened at the last judges panel, which made me root for both of them (although I already do like Celia, despite her tattling last week).

The girls then had a beauty photo challenge, where each had paint sprayed across her face and she had to somehow "convey" that color. For a lot of them, especially London Levi, the paint just looked unflattering. Allison gave the same expression again and again and she seemed sure to be doomed.

Before judges panel, Celia, convinced she'd be sent home, carefully picked out her outfit, which did look great: a light, bright ochre full short skirt with a fitted black motorcycle jacket over it. Her photo came out very well, and so did Allison's, despite her giving the same expression over and over again. Natalie Pack, until now the judges' favorite, was accused of having no bone structure in her face in her photo. Sandra Nyanchoka, however, was criticized harshly for giving good profile shots but not looking great head-on.

In the end it came down to Sandra and Celia. Tyra tore Celia a new personal orifice for talking about Tahlia at judges panel, but ultimately her picture saved her, which is good, since she's a cool contestant and Sandra has been tedious since Day One. 

-- Claire Zulkey

(image: the CW)