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‘Top Model’ Contestant Sues Tyra Banks

LOS ANGELES (CN) - An "America's Next Top Model" contestant sued the show's executive producer Tyra Banks, claiming she was disqualified from the title because Banks found out she had worked as an escort.

Angelea Preston sued Banks; The Tyra Banks Co.; three other producers and entities involved in the show and its broadcaster, The CW Network, on Dec. 10 in Superior Court.

Preston claims she won the show's Cycle 17, whose prize package included a $100,000 contract with CoverGirl cosmetics, a fashion campaign with Express, a fashion spread in Vogue Italia, and placement as a correspondent with the television program "Extra."

But Preston says she never received the prize package, and the show declared Lisa D'Amato the winner.

Preston participated in Cycle 14 of the show and placed fourth. She was brought back in the 17th Cycle for "America's Next Top Model: All Stars," which featured 14 nonwinning contestants for a second chance at the title, according to the lawsuit.

Before Preston began work on the show, she says, she was required to sign a release agreement.

The release included a provision that allowed producers to strip a winner of the prizes and title if the contestant is "caught or exposed committing any act which results in any public disgrace, outrage or other embarrassing act or any act that constitutes an act of moral turpitude," according to the complaint.

Preston claims the producers knew of "past escorting activity," as evidenced by casting director Michelle Mock asking her if she was "being pimped" and was "doing anything illegal."

Mock is not a party to the lawsuit.

Preston claims that Mock later told her she should "take the opportunity [of the show] and go with it."

But it all came crashing down, Preston says.

"During an unaired, but filmed, scene near the conclusion of the series, Preston, in tears, thanked defendant Tyra Banks for 'changing her life,'" the complaint states.

It continues: "Specifically, Preston stated to defendant Tyra Banks that she has 'done things in the past that she was not proud of.' Defendant Tyra Banks inquired, 'What things?' Preston replied, 'Things I'm not proud of to get money.'

"Accordingly, Preston was disqualified as winner of Cycle 17, for actions that occurred in the past, and not at the time of production of Cycle 17."

Preston claims that due to that time frame, the Participant Agreement does not allow her disqualification.

Preston seeks $3 million for unpaid wages, liquidated damages, and civil penalties. She is represented by Ronald Tym of Beverly Hills.

Also named as defendants are producers Ken Mok, Laura Fuest Silva, and Anisa Productions, and Pottle Productions, which owns trademarks for the show.

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