Keith Michael Speaks About Being Ousted From Project Runway
Below is a transcript from Andy Cohen's exclusive interview with Keith Michael, who was disqualified from the Project Runway competition during Wednesday night's episode. Andy Cohen, author of Andy's Blog, is Bravo's Senior Vice President of Production and Programming - and resident "Pop Culture Pundit."
AC: Since last night's airing of Project Runway, there's been a firestorm of viewer reaction to Keith's ousting from the show. I spoke with Keith this afternoon as the dust settled.
AC: What was your reaction to the episode?
KM: It brought back a lot of feelings I had when I had to leave. Honestly, Andy you have been presented with a set of facts but I am not the kind of person who can't admit when he's wrong. I feel like there was a lack of integrity on behalf of the production. I thought it was one-sided. I watched with my friends and family and I was disappointed. That being said and off to the side, how could I react to an episode like that? If I was really cheating then I would've said that you guys didn't make me look so bad but the facts being what I know they are I felt not great. It's old news to me right now it's hard to be reactionary about it at all....
AC: I'm not going to get into a debate with you about the timeline of the books and your story vs. our story because it's done. It is important to note that Tim or the show did not accuse you of actually cheating, but that the combination of your having the books and your going AWOL from production was what led to your dismissal. We would not have asked you to leave if the rules of the show were not broken.... You were too good a designer and too good a member of the cast....
KM: Well, yeah, I really felt like a part of it. I felt like a strong member of the cast. I felt included in the production and the editing. I enjoyed myself -- I had a great time. It was one of the rare times in my life where I didn't have to worry about real things. People gave me money and I got to make great things! I really loved it. I had a great time on the show.
AC: You were worried on the show about your friends and family's reactions... What kind of support are you getting?
KM: When I watched that, it was my only regret about what I said on the show. I didn't give them enough credit. I have received great support from them. I am getting great support from people everywhere -- writers, designers, people who know my character. It's been so nice to hear.
AC: You and the production are at odds over the timeline of what occurred with the books... But I have to ask about the going AWOL bit, which is also against our rules. Where'd you go? What did you do? What was on your mind?
KM: What happened the night before was that they pulled me aside and asked about the books. I said it was not an issue. I felt like it was over. They had interviewed my roommates about it too. The next day we were doing the promotional stuff and I think it was a big strategy that Jeffrey had to let everyone in on what happened with the books. It was no mystery to them. People were in hysterics that I had these books but I think they knew that I had the books. Jeffrey told everyone that I had those books and that was the reason that I was doing so well. We had done readings of the books in the apartment at a party we had there one night so they all knew.
AC: You did readings from pattern books?
KM: No, I had fairy tale books but the pattern books were there too and people knew it. By the way these pattern books were not the kind that you would be able to use for practical purposes on the show. One of the books was the most detailed pattern book you would ever see about menswear that had nothing to do with anything on the show. I brought it because I was working on my menswear line at the time. And the other was a dictionary of production terms. They weren't books that you could use at all. I brought the books because my men's line was in production in case I had to use them for menswear. Or if I had to design a men's coat or something. Jeffrey told the entire cast and they were all crying and accusing me and yelling at me and I was completely attacked. All I did was I went to my boyfriend's apartment, found his spare key, found an email from the Executive Producer, and asked him to contact me. I don't know what to say -- that's the deal.
AC: We were very worried because you were gone for four hours and you could've done anything during that time. Have you spoken to the other designers from the show? How are they reacting to you?
KM: Allison is very supportive of me. She was very confused because she liked me very much. It seemed like the evidence against me was heavy and she didn't know what to feel. I think this whole thing is farfetched and crazy. I have gotten so much fan email from this whole thing. People want me to be the bad boy, but I am not that guy. I went into this as a contest. I felt like this was based on talent. I thought I would win because of talent, but now I don't know who's to blame but I am not owning up to this.
AC: There were already a bunch of rumors on the internet that had nothing to do with the show or your leaving.... Surrounding allegations of copied sketches that you made. You defended yourself pretty clearly already online do you have anything else to say about that topic?
KM: Not really I think I said it really clearly. It was the honest truth. I would hope that people who watch the show and know about the industry know what a Trend Report is. It was an overview of styles from Spring/Summer that I presented to a client and I showed them what was out there and popular. It was clear what that was. I have been doing Trend Reports for a long time. I work for a lot of huge fashion companies and do Trend Reports for a lot of them and people pay me for that information to review what's going on in fashion.
AC: So I cruised through the message boards this morning and there's some support for you but the gist that I got was that -- people say that they thing you are arrogant and that they still like your designs... How do you react to that?
KM: As a designer it's not my job to make people like me -- I just want them to like my clothes. I was watching the show yesterday and Jeffrey was saying I got away with making simple things. It's easy to make something with a million style-lines. Simplicity is the most difficult thing to achieve, and that's how I approach design -- very minimal, pare it down, perfect. People want to feel effortless about their clothes. I don't always get it, I make a lot of mistakes, but that's my goal. I'd like people to like me. I think most of my friends like me! I'm real and I get in trouble for speaking my mind. I will definitely tell you the truth because I have to. I get in trouble that way. I felt well liked by my peers. It was interesting to see negativity come out but that's part of the show. You want to get negative reaction. Maybe I am a little cocky. Maybe it's something I need to work on. I don't know.
AC: Is there anything else you want to say?
KM: I've been talking a lot!
AC: What will you do next?
KM: Well I'm focusing on a few things. I am focusing on getting showroom to represent me. I have just been nominated by Sportswear International as one of the top newcomer's of 2006. The Daily has nominated me one of the 50 most fashionable people in the world! So I've been getting a lot of good press related to design which will hopefully lead to an investor. I need cash behind me to do what I want. Getting the funding that I need will hopefully let me show in September. It's about finance at this point as to whether it will be a big show or cocktail reception. And then getting into the stores to actually buy the stuff. I can't keep doing this for free! It's starting to wear down on me. I need to focus on the business aspect of things. that's what I was hoping from the show. I was hoping to win. But I will figure out another way of doing it. There's a few ways to skin a cat, right?
AC: Yep. There sure are. Good Luck, Keith!