Hawkins bravely sits in TV's hottest seat

HOSTING Australia's Next Top Model appears to be one of the most glamorous gigs in television, yet within the industry it has earned a reputation for being a poisoned chalice, having claimed some of the prettiest scalps to have been on the box.

NRL cheerleader, pageant queen and catalogue star may not be the usual entries on a supermodel's resume, but they were enough to land Myer ambassador Jennifer Hawkins the hosting gig after an exhaustive 12-month search. Hawkins will commence filming in January on the eighth instalment of the reality series.

She is the fourth host of the Australian franchise, following in the footsteps of Erika Heynatz, Jodhi Meares and Sarah Murdoch, each of whom had mixed success on the show: Heynatz was unceremoniously dumped after she appeared on a rival TV network; Meares froze in fear as cameras zoomed in during the live finale; and Murdoch famously read out the wrong winner.

Murdoch, the most recent host, was also listed as executive producer, though PS can report she no longer has anything to do with the show.

It appears Hawkins was Foxtel's second choice after Miranda Kerr, the chief mascot of Myer's rival department store David Jones. The models' corporate allegiances pose an interesting dilemma for the show's producers, with Top Model traditionally aligned with David Jones. In previous series, models received lucrative modelling contracts with the retailer. However, with Myer's top model in the hot seat, the deal with David Jones has become more awkward.

Yesterday, DJs confirmed it was scaling back its involvement, a decision apparently made before the Hawkins announcement. "To me, this is an awesome opportunity to be part of an iconic TV show and I can't wait for production to start," Hawkins said.

The executive director of television at Foxtel, Brian Walsh, enthused: "Jennifer represents everything all models aspire to be. She's successful, popular, hardworking and has truly made her mark in this country.''

The story Hawkins bravely sits in TV's hottest seat first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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