As part of Lifetime's promotional campaign for season nine of Project Runway, the network has created a series of ads featuring former Victoria's Secret model Heidi Klum, in the buff. The photos have yet to be viewed by the public, and are still waiting to be green lit by the show's executive producer and host, who both incidentally turn out to be Klum herself, but already they're creating a lot of buzz.
Though the ads will no doubt make the average viewer without Heidi Klum's supermodel physique want to cover themselves up in clothes, and lots of them, Lifetime's President and General Manager, Nancy Dubuc, who announced the campaign during Real Screen's Factual Entertainment Forum, has made it clear that the promos are more for the network itself than the hit reality show, which really doesn't need gimmicks to maintain the strong ratings its consistently boasted for the past eight seasons -- ratings that were so good, they spawned not one, but two spinoffs that will also air this year.
As Dubuc explains to The Hollywood Reporter, Lifetime is making an effort to shed the "women in peril" image that's kept Meredith Baxter gainfully employed for so many years, and to "embrace the contemporary woman" by promoting characters who are brazen, strong, confident, and sexy.
And who better to help women tap into that inner confidence and usher in a new era in the network's female-centric programming than a naked Heidi Klum?
Is it a step in the right direction? Probably. But don't expect audiences to be so thrilled about losing the best friend we used to turn to after a breakup to pacify us with their own stories of heartbreak while we gorge on chocolate and jellybeans and drown our sorrows with a box of wine. The one who taught us that real "sisterhood" is helping your girlfriend plot her husband's murder so she can live happily ever after with her true love, who just happens to also be her stepson. The one who's always there to tell you that the acid wash jeans from your college days still look great on you, and despite the fact that they're creating a button shaped imprint in your stomach, they somehow manage to make your ass look smaller.
Now, that friend is going to be more like, well, Heidi Klum; the bitch with four kids who has the nerve to look hotter in a bikini - or nothing at all - than you did even before having children, but is so damn nice, you can't seem to bring yourself to hate her.
Are we totally happy about it? No. And while the emotions might mostly be fueled by jealousy, it's never easy to lose a friend; especially one you've had for so long. But as Nancy Dubuc so eloquently reminds us, there's really no need to justify or defend the ads, or the network's new direction. After all, "It's Heidi F--kin' Klum!"
Season nine of Project Runway premieres this summer on Lifetime.