Janice Dickinson may consider herself the world's first supermodel, but her new replacement on 'America's Next Top Model,' Twiggy Lawson, disagrees. 'I think it's up for grabs, really. I certainly was around before her and before me there was Jean Shrimpton,' says the formerly-reed-thin superstar of 1960s Mod fashion. 'For me, the world's first supermodel is probably Shrimpton because she was my idol.'
When asked about Dickinson's departure from the reality show, which premieres its fifth cycle tonight (9/21), Twiggy responds, 'It's got nothing to do with me, what happened to her. As far as I knew, it was a mutual decision for her not to carry on. I've never even met her.'
Though Dickinson is known for having a sharp tongue, Twiggy says not to expect the same from her. 'I said up front if they wanted me to be Mr. Nasty it wouldn't work because I don't feel comfortable doing that,' she explains. 'I am constructive and I do give criticism, but I don't think for girls at that tender age that it's fair to be cruel because you could scar somebody for life.'
HE'S HAD IT: Just back from more than a week visiting Air Force, Marine and Army troops who've been working in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Gunnery Sgt.-turned-actor-turned 'Mail Call' series host R. Lee Ermy is outraged over some of what he's been seeing on television.
'These idiots don't know what the story is. I wish they'd get it straight,' he complains. 'I saw Geraldo pushing one of the paratroopers out of the way to take over some old lady's wheelchair. Had to be the hero. It's disgusting. These are rescue guys who go through 27 months of school to learn their jobs. They're the best there is. You don't interfere with them.'
Ermy's most disgusted by reports that leave the impression the rescuers arrived days after the hurricane. 'That's a lie. The Air Force had at least 20 Black Hawks and 20 P.J.s (parajumpers) who'd come in from all over the country at a base in Jackson, Mississippi, the day BEFORE the hurricane hit. And as soon as the wind died down enough, they were out saving lives. The unit I was with picked up 4,270 people.'
Ermy's 'Mail Call' team is rushing to edit an hour-long special of the History Channel show, which he says will tell the real story of 'boots on the ground' on the scene and much more. 'New Orleans had ridden out the hurricane. It was the 200-ton barge that should have been out of the area crashing into the main levee that caused the flood. Nobody's talking about that,' he says -- except his military contacts. Ermy, the iconic 'Gunny' of 'Full Metal Jacket,' has no shortage of those. He still spends 'about 200 days a year' doing fund-raising, visiting troops and otherwise being a booster.
KEEPING ON: Regis Philbin's marking 18 years with the currently-titled 'Live With Regis and Kelly' -- and he put in five years with the daily offering as a local New York program prior to going national. Still, the beloved TV veteran tells us that as far as he's concerned, there's no end in sight. 'I really do still enjoy it,' he declares. 'I especially love the opening segment, which goes half the show. It's such a luxury to go in with no script at all -- all spontaneous.'
Besides 'Regis and Kelly,' which holds its annual Relly Awards show Friday (9/23), Regis has finished recording his first Christmas album, for release next month. Featured along with him are his wife Joy and the Notre Dame Glee Club, plus cameos by Donald Trump (yes, that same, um, recognizable voice heard on the Emmys) and Steve Tyrell, with such tunes as 'Marshmallow World.' That ought to be worth hearing. 'I did an album last year and it was kind of successful for the kind of music I do,' says Regis. 'So the company said, 'How about a Christmas album?''
INDUSTRY EYE: Mel Gibson's busy casting his latest gamble, the 'Apocalypto' movie he plans to make in an obscure Mayan dialect, beginning in early November. Earlier reports had Gibson planning to use unknowns indigenous to the region in Mexico where he intends to shoot. Now, we understand, his casting reps are talking to Native Americans from a wider area who fit the required look.
'Boston Legal' is shooting an episode with a storyline about a Hurricane Katrina evacuee from New Orleans who sues the government over its lack of assistance in the storm that cost him his home and wife.