Tim Gunn on Project Runway Season 8: fragile contestants and crack-smoking judges!

Season 8 of Lifetime’s (previously Bravo’s) Project Runway kicks off at a new time 9 p.m. EST Thursday, July 29 with a new 90-minute time-slot, and according to the fabulous Tim Gunn it’s gonna be an emotionally wild ride.

On a conference call today Tim Gunn says that he doesn’t yet know what’s going to be included in the extra 30 minutes, but there’s always been lots of fascinating stuff that got left on the cutting-room floor. Something a little different we can look forward to is extra interview-style commentary from Tim! Hopefully we’ll get more of Tim advising the contestants (if not, you can still get your fix with Tim’s Workroom webisodes), but we’ll definitely be treated to Tim’s personal insight on the contestants behavior and the judges decisions! This is something they should have been doing all along:

“There’s an additional beat in this season, and that is a one-on-one camera interview with me about things that are happening, and, frankly, about the outcomes. I’m my candid, honest, truth-telling self, and that means I don’t know how much of that they’ll put in the show.”

As long as Tim is his candid, honest, truth-telling, witty, erudite self, we’ll definitely see a lot of that on the show!

Tim says he felt a special connection this this season’s contestants, and feeling a “profound fondness” for them, but he also reveals they were extremely emotionally fragile:

“They’re very fragile. They’re fragile in terms of their emotional well-being. They’re fragile in terms of their ego. They’re fragile. So I always felt as though I was tiptoeing around glass that I didn’t want to break while still delivering what I’m responsible for delivering, and what’s good for them: a truth-telling session in the work room, and an opportunity for them to look anew critically and analytically at their work.”

They may be more fragile, but they may also be more talented. Tim thinks this season’s quality of work was of a high quality all-around, which changed the judging dynamic and made it harder for Tim to predict what the judges would like. He explains that when the work is solid, it makes the judging far more subjective:

“Seasons 1 and 2, there was a lot of dubious work, and work that was simply poorly made. And that meant that the runway deliberations was in some ways rather easy. And when work is really all well-made, it gets much, much harder, it becomes much more a matter of taste, and in fact you’ll see that in Season 8. I have never witnessed a Season when I felt so disabled about even remotely predicting what the judges might decide. I’m totally mystified by it. Totally!”

In fact, this mystification of the judges, and affection for the contestants, may have led to some conflicts between Tim and the judges. Tim’s disagreements with some of the judges’ decisions led the production team to ask Tim to sit in the judges’ circle, which he turned down, but at one point he did speak with them to clarify a particular challenge because they misunderstood the nature of the challenge.

Tim added: “There’s a reason why I call them the crack-smoking judges.”

Go Tim! Can’t wait for this season so we can hear more of that! In fact, if you can’t get enough of Tim and his dead-on advice, he’s got a book coming out September 7, Gunn’s Golden Rules: Life’s Little Lessons for Making It Work. Gunn doesn’t just know how to fix up your wardrobe, he can fix up your life too! He should really be the next Oprah.

Here’s the trailer: