Dallas’ Emmanuel Tobias, on (almost) getting on ‘Project Runway’

Emmanuel Tobias

Out Dallas designer Emmanuel Tobias made it onto TV last week as one of the finalists for Project Runway. Well, sort of. He wasn’t a “final-finalist;” he was a pre-final finalist, one of three designers who seemed to make the cut (he appeared on the run-up special before the season premiere) only to be dismissed before any real competition got started.

And here’s the thing: If you saw his designs, and especially those of some of the contestants who sailed through, you had to ask yourself (as I often do on that show) “what were they thinking?”

But Tobias has a good attitude about it all, and agreed to relive his brush with Heidifame. Maybe next season!

Season 13 of Project Runway continues tonight on Lifetime, at 8 p.m. (and you can re-watch Emmanuel’s episodes on the recap at 7 p.m.).

Dallas Voice: Sorry you got booted so soon! Describe your design style. What’s your signature look? Emmanuel Tobias: I have always leaned to being a conceptual designer, but as of late, I have been combining my avant garde aesthetic with a more approachable, ready-to-wear style. I would describe it as an artistic approach to wearable clothing. My signature look combines powerful masculine and feminine qualities and always has an interesting textile, whether it is texture, specialty dyeing technique, or print.

Did you know you still had to prove yourself before you were “officially” on the show?  The production company prepped us with a timeline after the “semi-finals” casting interview, so I knew that I still had more hurdles to jump.  The process for this was truly a rigorous one and the timeframe/turnaround times that we were required in every aspect were very fast. I had a good feeling I was going to make it to the finals, but I knew that I would have to prove myself to the Heidi, Zac and scary Nina. What you saw on TV was probably less than 15 seconds of my finals casting, but I was in that room for quite some time.  Nina and Heidi were very nice, and I thought I had sold them on putting me on the show, but we now know Nina didn’t care for me! I gave so much conviction in every question they asked with smiles coming back and forth from the judges and myself … except for Zac. Zac was the one that was so hard on me, but on TV he seemed easy-going.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘Project Runway’ returns next month, Dallas designer among contestants

PR_13comp_RLifetime has announced July 24 as the start date for the new season of Project Runway. And Michael Kors is officially just a dim memory.

Zac Posen, Nina Garcia, Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn are back, but as I predicted more than a year ago — and again about a year ago — the loss of the show’s bitchiest critic has cooled my enthusiasm. Indeed, the series usually has two editions per calendar year, but the spring collection was replaced by Under the Gunn, a kind of Project Runway Lite thrown together when Klum wasn’t available to host.

The good news is, one of the new season’s contestants is gay Dallas designer Emmanuel Tobias, 29 (far right), and two others are Texas natives. We like our Texans on the show. No one does big hair better.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Gays at the creative arts Emmy Awards

HeidiTimWhile we were all getting our Pride on Sunday, in Hollywood, the gays were dressed up (sans Speedos) to attend the creative arts Emmy Awards ceremony — the precursor to next Sunday’s primetime ceremony. And if these awards (for design, casting, guest actors and such) are any indication, the gays have some mo(mentum) headed into the big game.

Among the big winners were Project Runway‘s Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn (co-winners for best reality show host) and Behind the Candelabra, the HBO film about Liberace, which won a staggering eight awards (casting, costumes, art direction, hairstyling, editing, sound mixing, prosthetic makeup and non-prosthetic makeup). It’s still up for six more next week, including two for best actor, best miniseries/movie and best director.

Other gay interest winners: Gay actor Dan Buchatinsky, who won best best actor in a drama for Scandal; American Horror Story: Asylum (for sound editing); Lily Tomlin’s narration of An Apology to Elephants (for best voice-over performance); and “IF I Had Time,” Neil Patrick Harris’ closing song at the 2012 Tony Awards (for best song).

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘Project Runway’ ad presses the flesh

pr12_key_artProject Runway launches its new season — its 12th — a week from tomorrow on Lifetime, and honestly, I haven’t been all that excited about it. No more Michael Kors. More gimmicks. No Texans in the cast.

But I have to say, the new ad campaign for the season has me, ummm, intrigued.

Now, I know the models in this photo are not the contestants. It’s just one more gimmick for the aging franchise. But if you have to have a gimmick, using racy nudity of hard-bodied men (and, admittedly, women) isn’t such a bad idea. And Heidi dressed as Marie Antoinette (and Tim Gunn standing beside her in a pose that’s slightly evocative of something S&M) probably has the desired effect: I’ll be watching.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘Project Runway’ jumps the shark?

PROJECT RUNWAYDo you hear that slight ringing sound? That’s the death knell for Project Runway.

Well, maybe not dead, but if this isn’t its last season, it’s in earshot.

Last year, Lifetime buried the lead when they casually mentioned that Michael Kors would be back only for the finale, with Zan Posen replacing him in the judge’s chair. At the time, I felt it was a mistake, and felt the decision basically meant Kors was off the show for good. No, folks emailed me — he’ll be back. It was just a “scheduling issue.”

Uh-huh.

The new season begins July 18, and the judges, once again, are Heidi Klum, Nina Garcia and Posen, with the addition of Tim Gunn not only as mentor but spy now, filling in the trio of behind-the-scenes goings-on, and even exercising a veto to save a designer. Tinker, tailor, solider, spy indeed, Mr. Gunn.

And there will be virtually no role for Kors this season.

This isn’t good news. Posen is a good designer but makes for dull TV. (Remember last season’s creepy “I go to high school proms every week” non-sequitur?) Season 11 was the dullest since the first season on Lifetime. The addition of a mystery contestant and Gunn’s new role have the whiff of desperation to prop up an aging series. (And this season no Texans among the 16 designers.)

It may be time to say, “Auf Wiedershesen.”

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘Project Runway’ team season contains 2 Texans, 1 from Dallas

Project Runway‘s first-ever “teams” edition features 16 designers — and two are from Texas, we learned today when the cast was revealed.

James Martinez, 29 (pictured at right) — who attended the Art Institute of Dallas — is among those competing in the show, which returns to Lifetime on Jan. 24. Also in the cast will be Daniel Esquivel, 48 (left), of Austin.

No clear word yet on who the gay contestants might be, but hey — it’s Project Runway. The straights just don’t show up that much.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Kors you’re out, Posen in on ‘Runway’

I got a press release from the Lifetime network, teasing the big change in the next cycle of  Project Runway, starting Jan. 24: All the designers will compete in teams! Big news, huh?

Eh. Teams is reality TV competitionspeak for “we set up folks to fight more.”

No, what really interested me was that in discussing the return, they noted Heidi would be back with Tim Gunn and Nina Garcia and new featured guest judge Zac Posen.

No mention at all of Michael Kors.

Then, later down, we find out Kors will be the final celebrity guest judge during Fashion Week.

Auf Wiedershesen.

Gotta say it: Bad move. Kors’ catty quips, as only a gay man can be, are for me the raison d’etre of Project Runway. I love me sum Tim Gunn, and me likee Heidi’s brush-off, but Kors is the tart souffle to Nina’s logy cheese course. We’ll have to see…

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Heidi Klum dishes on the new season of “Project Runway”

In anticipation of the new season of Project Runway, which premieres Thursday night on Lifetime, Heidi Klum did a conference call with journalists about what to expect this time out, and who is her personal favorite of the designers. (Hint! He’s gay!) Here’s an excerpted version of the interview.

Question: Who can we expect to see as guest judges [this season]? Klum: Obviously I can never give too many guest judges away, but some people that I was allowed to mention was Patricia Field. She’s very well known for doing Sex in the City, The Devil Wears Prada. She does a lot of full movies and television. For our very first challenge that we did in Times Square we also had Lauren Graham. I can give her away. A lot of people did see her when she was out with us here in Times Square. Hayden Panettiere has been one of our guest judges. Also Krysten Ritter, and I think I’m not allowed to give anymore away.

What’s it been like being back for the tenth season for you, as the host and judge?  It’s been amazing. It’s been ten years and we all would’ve never thought that we would make it this far. Michael always says that we’re on longer than I Love Lucy, which we always laugh about and I can’t believe it. Ten seasons is a milestone. It’s a long time. And I have to tell you even though we’ve been doing it for ten seasons I still love coming to work every season. I love being with Michael and I love being with Nina and Tim. They’re all so much fun, and we have become a family. It is always exciting to see these new designers, to see their story. They all have a different story to tell and they’re all passionate.

Can you tell us how you think this group of designers compares to past groups, in terms of talent level?  It’s always hard to compare because I never like to say that this season we have more talented designers than previous seasons because they were all always talented. And each year fashion evolves and fashion becomes different and so do our designers. I think we have some on this season that are not that talented and we quickly see that. We have some that are really amazing that have come up with new things where we sit there and we’re like, “Wow, we haven’t seen anything like that,” or, “You have a different technique.”

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

“Project Runway” crowns a gay winner — we just don’t know which one yet

Ever since Project Runway moved from Bravo to Lifetime two years ago, its entertainment quotient has taken a nose-dive. Season 8 was the most boring until the current season, an All-Stars edition which brings back players from Seasons 1 through 8. (Season 9 also crowned a controversial winner, someone who had been a designer for only a few months.) This version has been marred by dumb competitions and a substitute slate of less interesting judges. (No Tim Gunn! No Heidi! No Michael Kors! No Nina Garcia!… OK, that last one’s not so bad.)

But the one thing you can say about this season is: Whoever wins will be a gay guy.

That may seem like a ho-hum moment, but considering just how gay the show is — from the judges to the mentor to the contestants to the audience — it’s rather remarkable how poorly the gays have fared over the years. Last season, every male contest was gay (though one claimed not to be but… I mean, c’mon!); two were in the final three, but lost to a straight woman. Since the beginning, at least seven gay men have made the top three, but none has won since Season 4′s Christian Siriano. He may even be the last truly deserving winner.

That changes tonight. In the second of the two-part season finale, the three finalists are all gay: Austin Scarlett (Season 1′s fourth placer), Michael Costello (8′s fourth placer) and Mondo Guerra (8′s runner-up). Kenley Collins was kicked off fourth.

The fact Kenley and Costello stayed in the running so long — or that either is considered an “all-star” — is another one of the problems with the series: You become acutely aware what flashes-in-the-pan some of these designers were, and that they got further on the show than their talents would bear out. (Costello continues to steal others’ ideas, then drape a goddess dress to eke through.)

Mondo was the deserving loser a few seasons back, and Austin has become such a fun personality over the years (especially after his travel-fashion series with Santino Rice), so our loyalties are divided. But we’ll be watching for sure.

So … who do you hope wins?

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

ALBUM REVIEW: Of Montreal, Seal, The Twilight Sad, Metallica, Ultra Dance 13

Pop falters while rock and folk ascend to strong releases

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Of Montreal
Paralytic Stalks
Polyvinyl Records

Kevin Barnes and company get off to a wobbly start with “Geld Ascent” in OM’s new release. If static and feedback had a child, this would be it. It feels more like a shock move to explode the opening, but they fall back into the more familiar sound with second track “Spiteful Intervention.”
I never know what OM sings about, but they know how to create a song that’s feel good in sound and yet it’s never, ever dumbed down. They don’t write lyrics as much as they create eclectic odes set to music in tracks like “We Will Commit Wolf Murder” or “Authentic Pyrrhic Remission.” I wanna ask what the hell that means, but then I’m entertained to the point of forgetting my complaint and just want to groove along.

The thing is, it’s nothing new. OM delivers the energy, just more of the same. Quirky lyrics, falsetto breaks and confetti like puffs of music are much like what they’ve done in 2010’s False Priest or 2008’s Skeletal Lamping. I don’t want them to change their personality, but they’ve gone so off the chart with obscurity, they sound like they’ve gotten stuck there.

Two and half stars (out of five).

Seal
Soul 2
Reprise Records

The former Mr. Heidi Klum proves his voice is topnotch as he revisits soul classics again.. His voice is complementary to the covering of tracks by predecessors such as Gaye, Green and Pendergrass. The real question is why?

Seal’s voice is like comfort food. It’s easy to relish in and this sound works for him, but for a set of soul classics, the album is on automatic pilot. There’s nothing quite wrong with his rendition of “Love T.K.O.,” but he never sounded present in it.
There was also an immediate safeness to the album. The track selections are obvious like “Let’s Stay Together” or “What’s Going On” that plays uninspired.

He’s basically following the Rod Stewart reinvention strategy, but I’d rather hear Seal get back to his original stuff that was always an edgy alternative to contemporary pop.

Two and half stars.

The Twilight Sad
No One Can Ever Know
Fatcat Records

In their third full-release (six overall), these Scottish indie rockers deliver a grand episode of shoegazing. Singer James Graham’s thick accent is a character in itself, but strangely inviting. They head into darker territory, but opener “Alphabet” sets an inviting tone off the bat.

The move to a slightly harder sound is a wise one. They thrive with pumped up energy but don’t neglect their folkish sensibilities. Instead, it’s smartly elevated with these additional layers of sound.

Titles like “Sick,” “Dead City” and “Kill it in the Morning” sound depressing, but there is a wealth of strongly structured tunes that are engaging and cohesive. Even when they veer into Smiths territory with the dreamy “Don’t Look at Me,” they keep a strong sense of self and pull off a killer album.

Three and half stars.

Metallica
Beyond Magnetic EP
Warner Bros. Records

Released as an accompaniment to their 30thh anniversary concerts, this EP is a set of four songs recorded during their 2008 album sessions for Death Magnetic and is intentionally released in a more session style rather than high production value.
With signature guitar and drum rampages, Metallica doesn’t falter with first track, “Hate Train,” and its force is like a fist to the face. That’s a good thing. Skip over the annoying repetition of “Just a Bullet Away” (or listen to it below), but soak in and worship the muscularity of their chord action in “Hell and Back.” If this song were on Scruff, he’d be a haggard-faced muscle daddy still worthy of a “woof.”

Final track “Rebel Babylon” closes out this small chapter with Herculean strength and Hetfield just pushes his gritty vocals to the max and the band lays down the rock that requires either a head banging or a fist pumping — or maybe both at the same time.

Three stars.

Various Artists
Ultra Dance 13
Ultra

The grooves are in overdrive in this 13th volume of the popular dance compilation. Big names like Gaga, Britney Spears and Pitbull are placed next to budding dance DJ/producer tracks by Avicii and Calvin Harris. However, it left me asking, “Where’s the party?”

Remixes of Jason Derulo’s “It Girl” and Lady Gaga’s “You and I” never find their right footing and Danny Verde’s Gaga mix of her ballad stuck her vocals in peanut butter while the beat has left it behind.

The label was good to leave Spears’ “Til the World Ends” alone as it has enough weight to be a great party song and that chant alone needs no help. Such restraint is barely held through the rest of the album — and there are 24 tracks. Alexandra Stan’s “Mr. Saxobeat” doesn’t suffer much from its extended mix and is a fine listen that doesn’t beat into your head like a jackhammer.

Steve Aoki’s “Earthquakey People (The Sequel)” is absolute torture without remix, but it’s also representative of the album — soulless and pumped up without reason.

The other barely saving grace for this bit is deadmau5’s entry at the very end. “Raise Your Weapon” doesn’t rape your ears with a sonic force. It calms the energy but still goes into erratic directions that are fascinating. Otherwise, create your own dance mix if you need a party.

One and half stars.

(NOTE:This is a slightly longer version of the mix than on the album.)

—  Rich Lopez