Tyra Banks isn't going to tell you anything she doesn't want you to know. A star since she was a teenager, the former supermodel is well schooled in the ways of the press and she maneuvers around questions as gracefully as she works the runway in Louboutins. Ask her whether she's feuding with fellow mannequin Naomi Campbell (who, rumor has it, had Banks thrown off fashion shows they were both hired for), and she says: ''I never talk about Naomi publicly. I talk about a model who was difficult to me and the press put [her name] in my mouth.'' Inquire about her relationship history, and she says, ''I won't be using a lot of names [on the show]'' her past beaus have included John Singleton, Seal, and NBA player Chris Webber ''but a specific relationship had not just cheating but emotional abuse. It was really bad, but that made me strong.''
Surprisingly, the hedging doesn't make the 31-year-old any less likable a trait that should serve her well as she embarks on her most high-profile project yet, The Tyra Banks Show. Debuting Sept. 12, the syndicated daily chatfest which airs in about 98 percent of the country on many Fox, UPN, and CBS affiliates will be one part Oprah (''Tyra's $10,000 Turnaround'' is a future show topic), one part Ricki Lake (''Arguing Over a Sex Tape With Your Lover'' is another), with a pinch of Ellen (there's a semi-regular runway feature, in which Banks and audience members get their dance on for no particular reason). And just like America's Next Top Model, which she created, exec-produces, and stars in, Banks is involved with every aspect of Tyra, from the set design (she tweaked it after watching test episodes) to segment topics (she came to her first meeting with more than 180 ideas). ''She has that goofy and down-to-earth quality,'' says Hilary Estey McLoughlin, the executive vice president and general manager at Telepictures who pursued Banks for five years before she agreed to do a talk show. ''At 25 I hadn't experienced a damn thing,'' confirms Banks. ''But going through negative experiences and bad relationships truly prepared me.''