Mok dishes on 'Top Model'


"Top Model" executive producer Ken Mok readily admits that, even 100 episodes later (and counting), he still doesn't know all that much about the world of fashion modeling. What he does have is a knack for turning so-called "aspirational" reality shows into hits, not only with "Top Model" but also "Making the Band" and last year's CW show "Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll," which has now spun into a second season titled "Girlicious."

Mok spoke with The Hollywood Reporter's Ray Richmond about what's behind his "Top Model" success and his forthcoming second series venture with Tyra Banks, which is due to arrive on the CW this summer and is being positioned as a "Top Model" primetime companion.

The Hollywood Reporter: I guess it's safe to say that you weren't a fashionista before "Top Model" hit the airwaves in 2003.
Ken Mok: That would be accurate. I developed and produce this show, and I remain so not of this world. My fantasy show would be about NFL football. Before "Top Model," I did "WWE Tough Enough." I'm a regular guy who still doesn't know much about fashion. But suddenly, I'm someone known for producing these aspirational shows for young women. I'm an expert through osmosis.

THR: Did you foresee this show becoming what it has become? What did you see in Tyra and the concept that made you think it could fly?
Mok: The one thing I knew about fashion is that almost all girls
and young women are consumed with what they wear and how they look. I thought it could be appointment viewing to give a kind
of mainstream female audience a peek behind the curtain in this
rarefied world.

THR: How do you keep the concept fresh beyond 100 episodes?
Mok: There's always a new group every cycle, a new bunch for people watching at home to gossip about and bond over. It lends itself so much to communal viewing. That in itself helps keep things fresh.

THR: What can you tell me about the new show that you're producing with Tyra and Bravo's "Project Runway" producers.
Mok: It is a competition show about aspiring assistants looking to become assistant editors at a fashion magazine. At the same time, they're trying to prove themselves as aspiring fashionistas, that they have a sense of style and savvyness.

THR: I guess this means you'll continue to be the least-educated fashion expert in America.
Mok: It's the most ironic thing, isn't it?