Project Runway mentor Tim Gunn is also chair of the fashion design department at New York City’s Parsons school.


THERE’S GOING TO BE A LOT OF STURM UND DRANG ABOUT THIS: According to a story on, the producers of Project Runway are having a hard time scheduling the next season around “design mentor” Tim Gunn’s schedule as a teacher at New York’s Parsons School Of Design.

The new season’s filming schedule still hasn’t been finalized, however, and a spokesperson for the production company insisted that “as we have in past seasons, we will find a way to work around everyone’s schedules.”

While it would be a shame to lose Gunn from the series, one assumes that the producers have had backup contingencies in place for just such an emergency. I have heard, for instance, that Jeri “Seven of Nine” Ryan was being considered for Heidi Klum’s hosting gig. The statuesque actress, known for her appearances on Boston Legal and this year’s Shark, has no real connections to the fashion industry, but was put on the list in the hope of attracting more straight men to the show. Market research, however, revealed that many of the men who said they’d tune in to watch her mostly wore track pants and T-shirts they bought at comic conventions, which limited their appeal for advertisers.

The judges’ chairs have also been considered easily filled, should designer Michael Kors or Elle editor Nina Garcia have tanning accidents. Names like Isaac Mizrahi, Parker Posey, Andre Leon Talley and Anna Wintour made a short list of possible replacements, but were rejected for being insufficiently proficient in finding six dozen different ways of saying “I see your vision. You’ve come a long way, but you need to surprise me.”

Gunn’s role, on the other hand, was always regarded as difficult to substitute for since, while there’s no shortage of impeccably-dressed middle-aged gay men in New York, very few of them have a catchphrase, never mind a repertoire of them.

David Hasselhoff was briefly a contender, simply because, as one unnamed production executive put it, “He’s not gay. He’s not even particularly well-dressed, but you just can’t keep your eyes off him, since you never know whether he’s going to cry, dance, speak in tongues or start a naked conga line. In the end, we just didn’t feel like we could take the risk.”

Recent changes on the political scene have prompted Runway producers to revisit their list of possible mentors for the show’s aspiring fashion designers. While quite a few senators and congressmen have found themselves available to encourage the designers with a few well-chosen words, especially since no ambassadorships have opened up, former Washington insiders were downgraded as possibilities when a guest shot by former Virginia senator George Allen went bad after Allen was caught on camera referring to Jeffrey as a “macacca.” The strategy hasn’t been entirely abandoned by the Runway producers, however, especially as former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld has apparently had his schedule free up quite suddenly.

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