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Scott D. Pierce: Can ex-Mormon be 'Top Model'?

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 20 2008 12:45 a.m. MST

Can an ex-Mormon be "America's Next Top Model"?

We'll find out when The CW show begins it 10th cycle tonight at 7 on Ch. 30.

Aimee, an 18-year-old "hostess" (whatever that means) from Spanaway, Wash., is upfront about her ex-Mormon status.

"My mom ... she's definitely, like, very heavily Mormon," Aimee tells host/producer Tyra Banks. "So when I didn't want to be Mormon anymore, she's a little bit upset about that."

Not that her mother's disapproval could possibly stand in her way.

"I knew I wanted to become a model, but my Mom was a little iffy about it because she's still Mormon," Aimee says. "She doesn't want me to wear risque clothing or anything like that."

Maybe she'll feel better when you get to the nude photo shoot.

Aimee isn't even close to being the most embarrassing contestant on tonight's season premiere. Which should come as no surprise if you've ever seen the show — it's like watching a train wreck.

Hey, the hour opens with clips from past seasons of obscenity-laden catfights complete with violence, makeovers that cause major psychic trauma and screaming, and "stressful medical emergencies." All in the name of entertainment.

If the first nine seasons made you think it was impossible for "Next Top Model" to get any dumber, think again. Season 10 begins with "Top Model Prep," which is an excuse to dress the young women as Catholic schoolgirls.

It only gets worse 10 minutes into the hour when Banks shows up dressed as the homecoming queen.

"I want to thank you guys for voting for me," she says. "And I'm so sorry that I slept with all your boyfriends."

That Tyra Banks is a classy, classy dame.

Banks at least has had the smarts to ride this "Top Model" gravy train, although she has no other apparent talent. Whereas several of the contestants on her show are, well, just plain dumb. And not just the ones who are "crushin' on" openly gay Jay Manuel, the show's art director of photo shoots.

There's the one who says, "I really want to know what it's like to give a lap dance."

Or the ones (plural) who curse at and threaten other contestants with physical violence. Or the one who makes an inappropriate comment that is hard to believe.

"I see a model, but when she opens her mouth I just want to die," Manuel says.

As if to somehow justify all the ridiculous bad behavior, there are a couple of Really Important Stories. One says she was in an abusive relationship. One says she was molested and raped as a child. Another goes into graphic detail about how, as a 7-year-old in Somalia, she was circumcised.

But it's impossible to take even the most serious story seriously when it's being played out on the fashion model version of "The Jerry Springer Show."

As for the ex-Mormon, the early evaluation isn't all that good.

"There's something there," judge J. Alexander said without specifying what that "something" is.

"She looks like a model, but she doesn't know how to model," Banks said.

If Aimee can overact, if she isn't afraid to look like a fool, if she worships at the altar of St. Tyra and looks halfway decent in the photo shoots, she's got a chance.

THE CW ANNOUNCED return dates for several shows whose runs were interrupted by the recently resolved Hollywood writers' strike. The dates, shows and anticipated number of new episodes are:

March 2: "Aliens in America" (8)

March 3: "Everybody Hates Chris" (12)

March 23: "The Game" (9)

April 17: "Smallville" (5)

April 21: "Gossip Girl" (5)

April 22: "Reaper" (5)

April 24: "Supernatural" (4)


E-mail: pierce@desnews.com