Photo Credit: Getty Images; WireImage
Fans of America's Next Top Model are going to be in for some major changes next season. Tyra Banks has opted not to renew the contracts of main cast members J. Alexander, Jay Manuel and Nigel Barker for the show's upcoming 19th season.
Banks confirmed the news on Twitter Thursday, writing: "Fierce & love 2 my Nigel, Jay & Miss J. ANTM turned us in2 a family. Excited for what the future holds for us."
A source tells the New York Post that the firings were a "production decision" and that there are "major changes planned for (season) 19." One of them seems to be to add a social media angle to the show, including hiring bloggers and fashion insiders with previously established Web presences. Apparently producers have already reached out to street-style blogger Bryan Boy.
And these aren't the only three recurring cast members to be replaced. It was announced last September that People's Revolution founder Kelly Curtone was going to take the place of Vogue editor-at-large Andre Leon Talley on the ANTM panel of judges.
At least it seems like there are no hard feelings between the the showrunners and the former costars.
"Nigel Barker, Jay Manuel and J. Alexander have been an integral part of the America's Next Top Model brand and they helped turn this show into the household name it is today," Ken Mok, who acts as executive producer on the show, said in a statement. "They have been amazing assets to the show and will always be a part of the Top Model family. We will continue to actively work with each of them on future projects."
Barker responded to the axing Friday morning with a post on his blog Friday. "I will miss the cast, the crew and ANTM will always have a special place in my heart, having made life-long friendships with countless fond memories," he said.
Manuel also confirmed his departure on his personal blog.
"Thank you all for your kind words. It's true, after 18 cycles, I will not be returning to America's Next Top Model. Most importantly, I must give a big thank you to all our fans!" he wrote. "I've truly been blessed to work on a show that was recognized and loved around the world. I'll take with me memories and lessons that will last a lifetime."
Barker works as a photographer and judge on ANTM, Alexander acts as "runway trainer" and helps contestants prepare for the catwalk, and Manuel serves as creative director. All three have been involved with the show since it launched in 2003.
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