'America's Next Top Model' axes Nigel Barker, Jay Manuel and J. Alexander

antm-nigel-barker-j-alexander-jay-manuel-fired.jpgThere is some rather shocking news out of "America's Next Top Model" Friday morning (April 20). Three longstanding members of the cast have not had their contracts renewed: judge and photographer Nigel Barker, creative director Jay Manuel and runway trainer and sometimes judge J. Alexander.

Executive Producers Ken Mok and Tyra Banks write in a joint statement, "Nigel Barker, Jay Manuel and J. Alexander have been an integral part of the 'America's Next Top Model' brand and they helped turn this show into the household name it is today. They have been amazing assets to the show and will always be a part of the 'Top Model' family. We will continue to actively work with each of them on future projects."

Tyra Banks has also tweeted about the firings, writing, "Fierce & love 2 my @NigelBarker, @MrJayManuel & Miss J. #ANTM turned us in2 a family. Excited for what the future holds for us. XOXO TyTy."

And Nigel Barker has posted a message on his official website:

After many fun filled years with America's Next Top Model, I will not be returning to the program for cycle 19.

Many of you have come to know me over the past eight years on the show, during which we have shared numerous amazing adventures. It has been an exciting chapter in my life and I've enjoyed the opportunity to do the international version of Top Model for Canada, New Zealand, Finland, England, Mexico and even Russia. What a ride it has been!

I will miss the cast, the crew and ANTM will always have a special place in my heart, having made life-long friendships with countless fond memories.

This change will allow me to take on new projects and turn my attention to other business prospects in the worlds of fashion, beauty and entertainment. I also have a number of new ventures that have been in the works, and I look forward to sharing them with you very soon - Stay tuned!

Of course, as you might have expected, my efforts on behalf of Haiti, The HSUS, the Make A Wish Foundation, The United Nations Foundation and many more will continue with full force.

This next chapter promises to be even more thrilling with the sky's the limit. I look forward to taking you with me.

    Much love,

    Nigel


Many judges have come and gone over the years - Janice Dickinson, Paulina Porizkova, Andre Leon Talley - but Nigel, Jay and Miss Jay have been with the show practically since day one. Nigel and Miss Jay joined in Season 2, while Jay Manuel has been there since the beginning.

We don't know about you, "Top Model" fans, but we are really going to miss them next cycle.

Photo/Video credit: Getty Images