"These models, how did they let this happen to themselves? " muses Jaclyn Smith about a moment on Bravo's latest reality series "Shear Genius...

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LOS ANGELES — “These models, how did they let this happen to themselves?” muses Jaclyn Smith about a moment on Bravo’s latest reality series “Shear Genius.” “I mean, if someone came at me with garden shears, I don’t think I’d stay there.”

The former “Charlie’s Angels” star is the host and a judge for “Shear Genius,” a reality show that offers 12 hairstylists a chance to compete for the coveted title, a styling feature in Allure magazine and $100,000 in seed money. The show premieres tonight.

To prove themselves worthy, they’ll need to run a gamut of creative and nerve-racking challenges that includes creating a day-to-evening ‘do, straightening African-American hair, perfecting Vidal Sassoon’s “Nancy Kwan” bob and of course, using the aforementioned unconventional tools.

“When I saw the garden shears, the box cutters, I was then in awe of all the stylists,” Smith says. “I thought that was fun. I really, really liked that. That probably was my favorite.”

As an actress, designer and entrepreneur, Smith wasn’t that familiar with the intensity and creativity behind high-end hairstyling. Nevertheless, she’s gleaned some knowledge about hair over the years from her work with industry stylists like José Eber and her stint as a Breck Girl.

Smith works alongside three fellow judges: celebrity stylist Sally Hershberger, who’s known for creating Meg Ryan’s famous shag; Michael Carl, Allure’s fashion director; and a rotating guest judge spot filled by the likes of Frederic Fekkai, Ken Pavés and Eber. Rene Fris will serve as the competitors’ salon manager and adviser, sort of their Tim Gunn.

Smith will have a different look every week, created by stylist Brant Mayfield. It’s a departure for her since she’s used to her close working relationship with her personal stylist, Eber, who was also responsible for the signature look of “Charlie’s Angels” castmate Farrah Fawcett in the ’70s.


“Shear Genius,”

11 tonight on Bravo (moves to 10 p.m. time slot next week).

“Farrah hair had a life of its own. It sort of needed its own phone line,” jokes Smith. “José certainly was responsible for that wilder, layered look that was more choppy. Farrah was perfect for it because of the texture of her hair. She had curly hair, but a lot of hair. She owned it. It couldn’t have gotten better.”

Despite her admiration for the luscious-looking cut, Smith didn’t enjoy seeing it become a ubiquitous style.

“I think that’s sort of sad because I think people need to find their own unique look,” she explains. “Certainly on ‘Shear Genius,’ it will point out that in choosing a hairstyle, it must be compatible to your features, to the type of hair texture you have, to your lifestyle, your personality. To just copy something, it’s not good.”

The show’s competitors are an eclectic bunch from all over the U.S., many with international backgrounds, ranging from a hair “designer” dubbed The Wizard by his clientele to a tattooed and pierced rocker.

“We all had our favorites, and we all thought, ‘Ah, that person is going to go to the end,’ ” says Smith. “But it really isn’t just the technical aspect, it’s the overall. One time they’d win a challenge, and then next time they’d lose. They’d sort of go over the top in creating something that you’d think, ‘Gosh, they were so good last time. Why did they do this?’ But they’d reach for something that was not realistic.

“I thought what was interesting is that it wasn’t a sprint, it was a marathon. The stylist that could really go and remain calm throughout each challenge will be the one that sees it through to the end and win the big prize of ‘Shear Genius.’ “