Lifetime's 'Under the Gunn': Tim Gunn Previews His 'Project Runway' Spinoff
"Under the Gunn" (premieres Thursday, Jan. 16 at 9 p.m. on Lifetime) elevates the wisdom-spouting fashion expert to Super Mentor level, now guiding three fan-favorite "Project Runway" alums to become mentors themselves to a crop of new designers.
Gunn helps Mondo Guerra, Anya Ayoung-Chee, and Nick Verreos coach and manage five aspiring designers apiece. After his initial critiques — which always provide invaluable insight on "Runway" and often make or break a design — Gunn then leaves the designers to finish their garments, with the help of his mentors-in-training. But that's not always a positive.
Keep reading to find out how mentoring mentors is more challenging than he thought and why he's a bit envious of them. Also hear his (somewhat) unfiltered thoughts on those "Project Runway All Stars" seasons, Alyssa Milano as host, and why he's never seen an episode.
First the Tim Gunn Save on "Runway," and now your own show. The two are 100 percent connected, I think.
I have to give credit to Sara Rea, our showrunner — the Tim Gunn Save was her idea! It came out of Season 11 where I basically saved Michelle, who won the season, but it all happened off-camera. I was outraged. I thought, "This can't happen, she can't go home, she is the youngest of these finalists, she has a point of view that's so powerfully important, she can't go, this is a huge, horrible mistake." So I got my save, and then Sara said, "Well, for Season 12, let's formalize it — you know you're going to do it again!"
Well yeah, now that you had the power you weren't about to give it up! But that hasn't been the only interesting change — now the judges are seeing everything so up close and personal on "Runway."
[Laughs.] Yes the part in "Runway" 12 where I bring the models out and show the designers the work … that came about because Season 11 was Zac Posen's first season with us as a judge, and when the models would leave backstage, he'd get up and grab them and start examining the clothes. I went nuts because it wasn't happening on camera. And I always say to the designers, "The judges never see your work any closer than 20 feet," and then suddenly … so I was incensed. So when Sara said we'd incorporate that officially in Season 12, I can't tell you what resistance I had, but then I loved it. I really loved it. Sara was right![Related: "Project Runway's" Tim Gunn Defends Show's Record For Success]
I'm glad to hear that because it's one of my favorite new elements, and I'd think you'd be all for it because it brings a bit more realness back to reality TV.
Oh absolutely — in that first challenge, as far as I was concerned, we had a great big cheater, and as I said to the judges, "If she were my student, I'd give her an F," and they were ready to give her the win. It's like, "But she didn't use the parachute!" I mean! So it's a good thing.
But it's insight like that that you have, and the judges are never privy to … that's why you're the mentor. But you didn't just become a mentor overnight, so I'm wondering how you taught these "Runway" alums how to be the mentors now on "Under the Gunn"?