Los Angeles, April 1--From the creators of "Nun Makeovers" and in the tradition of "America's Next Top Model," FOX's new reality show, "America's Next Top Monk" pits humble, celibate men against each other in a battle to win coveted titles like "Best Fruitcake Baker."
Ten monks, who have been chosen from Christian and Buddhist monasteries across the country, compete against each other in various categories, such as meditation/prayer, chanting, fruitcake baking, and fasting.
In the category of Habit Haberdashery, one Carthusian brother fared well when celebrity judge Carson Kressley--of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy--chose him to go on a fashion outing. Friar Malcolm Harris won praise for his orange habit with a purple and white striped tie wrapped around his waist as a cincture. "He looked smashing," said Kressley. "Orange is the new brown and the splash of purple was fabuloso."
Viewers call in at the end of every episode and vote off the monk of their choice. The remaining monk will get $1,000,000 toward the charity of his choice and a lifetime supply of Birkenstocks.
Competition has been fierce so far. Last week in the series premiere, Friar Robert Marcano of New York City, who was later the first to be eliminated, told Friar Patrick O' Reilly of San Francisco that his fruitcake was so horrible that he wouldn't give it away in the soup kitchen he runs "for fear the homeless might starve themselves."
"Top Monk" creator Jason Johnson says that it was tough choosing the ten that ultimately made the cut. "There was an extensive casting call," he says. "We went to shopping malls all over the country. The line of monks went all the way from the Sports Authority to the Piercing Pagoda at one place. I couldn't believe it!"
Johnson also says that he has another show in the works for next season, though he refuses to tell what it's titled. "Let's just say it involves priests and lots and lots of sacramental wine," he says with a chuckle.