Last week, Project Runway fans and Tim Gunn fans (depicted by one, giant circle on the Venn diagram of those two demographics) got an extra thrill when Lifetime Network announced the January 16 premier of Under the Gunn, a new fashion reality series starring everyone's favorite mentor, plus other PR names like Mondo Guerra, Anya Ayoung-Chee, Nick Verreos, and Zanna Roberts Rassi; also slated to appear are designer Rachel Roy (a favorite PR guest judge) and celeb stylist Jen Rade.
Details on the show are sketchy for now--production begins this month, according to the press releases--but Under the Gunn doesn't appear to be a complete PR rip-off/spin-off. At least, not yet.
The Project Runway-heavy cast is made up almost exclusively of winners, runners-up, fan favorites, and any combination of the three; Anya won her season, Mondo was runner-up for his season and won a subsequent All-Stars season; Nick Verreos parlayed his appearance on the second season of PR into a long-term relationship with the show, on which he appears frequently as a guest judge, fashion week commentator, and audition judge.
PR fans will also recognize Zanna Roberts Rassi (ZRR, henceforth) of Marie Claire, a PR series and spin-off regular for many years, and designer Rachel Roy, who appears frequently as a guest judge. Jen Rade is really the only wild card; she's got some QVC cred--QVC is a sponsor on this season of All-Stars--and according to her website, has worked with Pink, Dave Matthews, and Mötley Crüe, to name a few.
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Under the Gunn takes the Project Runway design challenge/elimination format and adds a "twist": Mondo, Anya, and Nick will be competing at the mentor level to recruit the best designers to their own teams, and guide the teams through the various challenges; the designer and the mentor that are still standing at the end will be deemed the winners.
Can Tim Gunn carry his own show? Tim Gunn fans sure hope so, especially since our impeccably tailored, kind-hearted, slightly older, gay TV-boyfriend doesn't appear on Project Runway All-Stars, and we miss him terribly. Although Gunn's previous show on the Bravo Network, Tim Gunn's Guide to Style, didn't really take off, he's so incredibly watchable that his fans will surely tune in to his newest venture on Lifetime. A full 13 episodes of Under the Gunn have been ordered, so we're likely to see at least one full season, since Lifetime--unlike the big networks--rarely yank shows after just one or two episodes. We're going to see a lot of familiar faces from PR, and some big-name sponsorships (Benefit and Lexus, reportedly), and the network is throwing some weight behind the public relations for the show, so it's entirely possible that this show will not only survive, but thrive.