[08/26/08 - 06:00 AM]
Interview: "The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency" Star Janice Dickinson
By Jim Halterman (TFC)

Janice Dickinson. The name itself brings up images of outrageousness, outspokenness and someone who may be just a tad louder than the next person. However, when Janice talked to The Futon Critic's Jim Halterman about the fourth season launch of her popular Oxygen series "The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency," she also exhibited something else that should always be mentioned in the same breath as any list of adjectives -- passionate.

"What does it mean to me?" Janice repeated back when asked about the importance of her show. "I eat and sleep for kids achieving their dreams. This allows me to give back in a field and an industry that I worship. I just want to remain in the picture... if I can't be in front of the camera, I'm behind it. I take photographs. If I'm not taking the photographs, I'm dining with the clients. If I'm not dining with the clients... it's just all facets of the industry that I absolutely love � fashion."

One of the biggest changes in store for the new season of "The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency" is the addition of a model house, where a chosen group of models from the agency will reside together. Making things even more interesting is that Janice will live among them not only to mentor them but also to watch over them. Janice Dickinson, Den Mother?

Janice explained that the model house idea came about "collectively with the great network [Oxygen] and the production of Stuart Krasnow." Krasnow, the executive producer of the series who was also present for the interview, gave kudos to Janice for her participation. "Janice lived there 24/7. She was in for the full run. I really can't think of anybody else who really would do that along with a cast of a reality show. I think [with] the schedule she keeps, her balanced energy, I almost think it was harder for the kids to be in the house than it was for Janice to be there."

Janice reiterated that the task of living in the house was definitely not as tough for her as it was for the models. "Truthfully, it was exhilarating. I'm a pretty tough book camp sergeant and I demand perfection in myself and I expect it with the people around me � especially keeping the kids focused." She also added that she doesn't just dish it out either. "I don't expect anything from the kids that I don't do myself. When I wake up, I make the bed. When � after I make the bed I go out and... I clean the house. After I clean the house, it's exercise and then its nutrition. And then we go about our day. And that's all before 7:30 in the morning, I might add."

Krasnow wanted to make sure everyone understood that sometimes the perception of Janice is not all inclusive in terms of who she really is. "I think one of the things that being in [the] house really allowed us to show even more of this season than previous seasons is the full character that Janice is. Anybody who knows Janice and any producer who respectively puts her onscreen knows that she's so multifaceted that as much as Janice can have a side that's really, you know, tough and really extreme, she also has a side that's very emotional. She has so much heart... and I think that you're really going to see this... den mother side of Janice that I don't think we're used to seeing."

Besides the obvious entertainment value in watching the models cavort in skimpy clothing as well as the clashing of personalities within the model house, there's also the business side of modeling, which has always been the driving force for Janice. With our world becoming more and more diverse, Janice wisely is incorporating that same vision with her agency. "What the [Oxygen] network and the agency is trying to achieve on �The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency,'" Janice stated, "[is] a show that is so unique and different � the agency ethic. We are trying to bring diversity and equality into the agency with a vision that doesn't quite fit the magazine and the editorial mold that's out there as to date... we have Americans and we've got a Russian girl in the agency now. We've got a Japanese girl � just to diversify it a bit."

But how to keep all these hot, beautiful and young models in line? One of the juicier developments this season is the addition of a surveillance system on every room in the house. Janice explained that the use of hidden cameras, "is the beauty of the show because the models do not know they're being observed by me � the Dr. No of modeling � 24/7 so they can't get away with what they think they could get away with." Janice justifies the hidden cameras by recounting her own modeling experience and the potential hazards that can upset a career. "I've been to Peru, China, Russia, Iraq and Iran. I've been everywhere and you have to be able to cohabit with people in order to keep the � keep your working relationship going. And you can't be having some hidden secrets because if it comes out on a job somewhere in the middle of Katmandu... you're going to come up into some serious trouble." Thanks to the surveillance, Janice was able to glean some secret information about the models under her tutelage. "I discovered that some of the models had eating disorders. Other models were having romantic trysts when it wasn't allowed inside the house." Janice didn't want to spoil all the surprises, though. "You have tune in and watch the show to uncover what I saw on those surveillance cameras which is why after two weeks on the show I was walking around like a zombie."

While many of the models from previous seasons return, the newbies, who are chosen in the season premiere, don't necessarily receive a warm welcome. When it's revealed who will live in the house and who will not, insecurities and jealousies escalate but one thing remains constant - the models vie to stay in Janice's good graces over the course of the season. Krasnow explained that the models always looked up to Janice no matter what else was going on. "[The models are] always coming to all of us saying When can I see Janice? [or] Can I come up to her? Because we like everything to be on camera... they really, really do trust what she has to say and since these models are up for real jobs, and potentially real campaigns and real exposure � it's not an elimination show � so every piece of information they get from Janice, it could be the difference between getting a job or not getting a job."

Thanks to her private bedroom (the one spot in the house the models are not allowed), did Janice ever feel the need to retreat from the drama and tune everything out? Janice laughed. "That's hilarious. I don't know how. I honestly don't know how [to do that]. The way to do it is, in actuality, meditation and yoga. That allows me the decompression... but the only way for me to do it [is] you have to take that time, that 20 minutes in the morning and in the evening, just to decompress. Otherwise my heart will burst."

After several seasons with ratings that continue to grow, what does Janice attribute to her success? "I didn't just fall off a tomato truck," she said. "I don't go into anything that I don't know that I have a working team around me, that completely has my back. I chose the best producer in the industry, Stuart Krasnow, after interviewing hundreds. After getting the boot on "America's Top Model" I knew exactly how I wanted to do a show. And Tyra Banks knew it when she hired me in the first place, which propelled her show into a phenomenal franchise in itself. She took every single chapter of No Lifeguard on Duty (Janice's book)and turned it into episodes."

With the new season underway and plans already made for Season 5, Janice quickly adds, "I skip coming to work in the mornings. I just love what I do." See for yourself when "The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency" returns for its fourth season tonight on Oxygen at 10pmEST.

  [august 2008]  


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