11:47am PT by Jethro Nededog
'America's Next Top Model': Nigel Barker Says His Firing 'Wasn't a Tyra Banks Thing'
Fans of The CW’s America’s Next Top Model woke up on Friday to find that veteran cast members judge Nigel Barker, creative director Jay Manuel and model coach J. Alexander had been fired from the series. But, Barker says he has no hard feelings toward host and executive producer Tyra Banks.
"We had an incredible run and there aren't any hard feelings," the photographer tells E! Online. "This isn't a Tyra thing. This is a network thing.”
Amid the current Cycle 18’s lower-than-average ratings, Barker says that he wasn’t surprised that his contract isn’t being renewed.
"It wasn't a shock. I'm friends with Tyra and the producers," he says. "There had been a discussion that ratings were down and that something like this would happen. There had been previous years where discussions about me being eliminated from the show had happened and I had actually survived the chopping block before."
Now that he’s free from his post on the reality competition’s judging panel, Barker says he’ll have more time to focus on other ventures, including a cosmetics line, skincare line for men and a return to TV.
"I'm looking very much forward to creating my own show that focuses on some of my passions like photography," he says. "We're looking at producing and directing a number of projects. There are several scripts we're looking at right now."
Barker, Manuel and Alexander had been with the show since its first season in 2003. Banks confirmed the news of their firings via Twitter and a joint statement with executive producer Ken Mok.
“Nigel Barker, Jay Manuel and J. Alexander have been an integral part of the America’s Next Top Model brand,” the statement reads. “And they helped turn this show into the household name it is today. 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.”
This, of course, isn’t the first time the series has undergone cast shakeups. Original judge Janice Dickinson left in 2005 with several revolving judges over the later seasons including Twiggy and Paulina Porizkova.
Andre Leon Talley joined in 2010 along with a high fashion upgrade for the show that included a partnership with Italian Vogue. He was replaced in the current season dubbed the “British Invasion” by fashion publicist Kelly Cutrone.