Tom Donoghue / www.donoghuephotography.com
Thursday, June 13, 2013 | 4:50 p.m.
Until it gets sprung on them at the last moment, not even the Miss USA contestants will know. NBC television producers have surprises for everyone for Sunday’s broadcast from Planet Hollywood.
“We’re keeping it totally under wraps” Miss Universe president Paula Shugart said. “In fact, we’re being so secretive about it we’re also going to spring it on our owner, Donald Trump. It's really going to shake up a lot of unexpected things during the live show -- and it may very well change the entire outcome of how the new Miss USA is determined.
“It's certainly going to keep people on the edge of their seats."
I talked with Paula after last night’s preliminary competition.
"It’s a very strong competition this year with some beautiful women, many accomplished women," she said. "It's anybody’s game at this point. I’m not going to even predict who will be the first semifinalists, let alone a winner. It does get tougher each year to judge and find a winner; or, let me put it this way: It certainly doesn’t get any easier to predict who will win."
Be sure to check out Richard Corey’s YouTube video of the final four minutes of last night’s 2013 Miss USA preliminary pageant, featuring all 51 contestants in their swimsuits with 2012 Miss USA Nana Meriwether.
Meanwhile, four former pageant winners are facing a little controversy: Shanna Moakler (1995), Susie Castillo (2003), Shandi Finnessey (2004) and Alyssa Campanella (2011). Shanna and Alyssa told me that they’ve all stripped down and posed nude for controversial pinup photographer Fadil Berisha in a sexy new ad for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
They want the new campaign to put an end to some state beauty pageants offering fur coats as prizes. “Feel beautiful in your own skin and let animals keep theirs,” declare the au naturel foursome.
"I've been an animal lover all my life, and the more I learned of the torture that animals go through in the name of fashion, I just think it's so unnecessary; it's unbelievable to me," said Susie. “I’m blessed to team up with my pageant sisters to take a united stand and to tell the pageant industry not to support the fur industry."
Shanna added: "As long as I'm the director of Miss Nevada, we will never award fur coats as prizes and I urge my fellow pageant directors to make the same pledge. Kind people today are taking a stand against cruelty to animals, so a fur coat is no prize for a compassionate, socially aware woman."
Alyssa brought me up to date on her romance with Canadian actor Torrance Coombs from "The Tudors." “No ring yet” she said, showing me her left hand. “But we’ve talked about me becoming a Canadian citizen so its getting there. We’re filming the new ‘Reign’ TV series for the CW network in Toronto this summer so that’s going to be home for a while.”
Miss Nevada Chelsea Caswell got high marks at last night’s preliminary. But there’s keen competition from contestants from Oklahoma, Vermont -- and Emily Hart from Indiana.
She competed for five years in the rival Miss America contest but never won because of nerves over her piano talent. The Miss USA pageant does not require a talent category. Emily is best friends with Katie Stam, who was crowned Miss America in 2009 -- and played piano at her wedding!
Emily decided to enter this year's Miss USA as a grand finale to her pageant career (but would go onto Miss Universe if she wins). The 26-year-old contestant runs a winery with fiancé Eric Harris that took four years to plan. “I hope my business experience at a young age sets me apart with owner Donald Trump and his judges.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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