Paul Fisher has a lot of things to overcome. The owner of the Network, an umbrella company overseeing something like 150 modeling agencies across the country, has to whip all those small businesses into shape so they can discover new talent and keep it. He’s got to convince models and the people who hire them that it’s not just the big NYC agencies that matter. And he’s got to overcome the revulsion he once felt for the industry that he left for 10 years. And he’s got to convince us that Remodeled, which premieres on the CW tonight, is worth adding to the already full roster of modeling shows on our DVR list. But that’s not enough. He also wants to create models who will change the world. Wait, what?
In the ’80s and ’90s, Fisher rep’d the likes of Naomi Campbell, Stephanie Seymour, Carre Otis and Kimora Lee Simmons. But things went sour for him when his sister “came down with a very bad case of cancer.” As he was taking care of her, he recalls, “Two of the most famous models in the world called me up and they were pissed off. ‘Why am I making only $50,000 today, Paul, when this other chick is making $75,000?’
“I said, ‘My sister’s dying and you’re pissed off about $50,000? F— you.’ So I ran away from the modeling industry, and I swore to god I would never never go back into that business ever again.” The only reason he’s going back on his word, Fisher says, is because he thinks his Network can transform the industry into a force for good.
When Fisher told this dramatic story to us at a press event for the show last week, he was no less intimidating than he seems when talking to the owners of floundering agencies in Orlando and Minneapolis on the show. (Yes, he is definitely taking a Gordon Ramsey/Tabitha Coffey approach.) But we dared to ask him what modeling can do for the rest of the world.
“Young kids all over the world look up to the kids on the covers of magazines,” he explained, and pointed to one of his success stories, Meghan. “Meghan’s from Alburquerque, and if Meghan does drugs, if Meghan becomes a mess, young people I believe are going to emulate that. If Meghan gets a big old job, I say to her, ‘That’s great, Meghan. Who are you going to go help today? Are you going to feed the homeless today? What are you going to give back to the world today, Meghan?’ I believe young people like that have a responsibility to give back to the world. They’re in the limelight.”
Well, from the two episodes we saw, the show itself isn’t really concentrating on that aspect. It shows Paul and his surly assistant, Joseph, remodeling and reshaping the small-town agencies, while his VP, Olga Tavarez, and others take their biggest stars to castings and shoots. But we can imagine, at least, how his system of keeping models connected to their hometowns would help them stay grounded more than they would if they were thrown into the fire in the big city on their own.
And a side note, one of the models he helps a Minneapolis agency keep in the premiere is none other than Kaela Humphries, sister to Kris. Oooh, should be inneresting.
[Photo: The CW]