Brian Jones/Las Vegas News Bureau
Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012 | 6:37 a.m.
2012 Miss America Pageant
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2012 Miss America co-hosts and producer
Editor's Note: The 2012 Miss America Pageant live blog begins at 6 p.m. today from Planet Hollywood.
“The Bachelor” host Chris Harrison, “Dancing With the Stars” co-host Brooke Burke-Charvet and Miss America Pageant officials believe that tonight’s telecast will crush the competitive football draw of the Denver Broncos vs. the New England Patriots.
“It’s a huge game, but Miss America can beat Tim Tebow,” Chris declared (jokingly?!). The pageant at Planet Hollywood’s Theater for the Performing Arts and airing on ABC is sold out.
“We’re excited to compete against the football match-up,” Miss America chief Sam Haskell added. “The game will keep people at home, and women will be in control of the clicker and watch while the men go off to the basement. We welcome going up against the game because the key to good ratings is people staying home on a Saturday night.”
Television producer Tony Eaton also is betting that new changes for this year’s Miss America telecast will be an added ratings booster. He revealed that he’s filmed segments with the 53 glamour girls at six locations, including the new Hyde Bellagio, Steve Wynn’s “Le Reve” at the Wynn, George Maloof’s GhostBar at the Palms and the downtown Fremont Street Experience.
“Vegas is its own star power,” said Tony, who is producing for the fourth consecutive year. “Vegas is colorful, photogenic and really lends well to what we’re doing on this year’s new-look telecast. You’ll see elements of Vegas right through the show.”
He also teased that there will be one “squirmy” moment in the show that’s never before been attempted on live television. “I was debating whether to do it or drop it, but I’ve decided it will go in. You’ll have to watch to see who squirms more -- the audience or the contestants. It’s so radically new, you’ll be glued to it as it unfolds. I can only hope it goes well, as it’s never been tried before.”
Chris, hosting Miss America for the third time, said: “With 53 moving parts in 2 hours, it’s the most dramatic show on television. Live TV is a totally different animal. Last year, we were announcing one girl, and she wasn’t even onstage! She had to sprint on dressing as she ran to make it.
“You can’t plan on everything because it’s very real and intense. Juggling this show is like being conductor of a large train. There’s not time for us to even make a judgment about the girls. I can only say I am just astounded by their talent.”
“When I first hosted Miss America back in 2004 in Atlantic City, I was so impressed as to how smart and talented they were then. Today, even more so. I want this to be the most amazing live great event -- and just as important in its own way as the Super Bowl. Last year, we went up against another big football game and did exceptionally well.”
ABC’s broadcast will use 13 cameras for the telecast, with 110 people in the stage and production crew and more than 100 local volunteers behind-the-scenes to assist the contestants racing to and from the stage in the fast-moving judges’ voting segments. Tony said he first put pen to paper to plan it while in Orlando with the hopefuls last August. “It takes a 6-month ramp-up to get ready for one amazing night that goes by in just 2 hours.
Brooke will be reporting from behind-the-scenes live: “To say it’s chaotic backstage is still an understatement. It flashes by so fast. Two hours feels like 30 minutes to us up on the stage.”
Brooke, who begins her fifth season with “DWTS” in March, said that her mother and mother-in-law have come here to watch the show in person. “I think Miss America to my mom is far more exciting than watching me on ‘Dancing.’ ” she laughed. “We always watched Miss America as a family -- my grandmother, my mother and me -- and now my 5-year-old daughter Rain.
“I’m not a dream quasher as a parent, so if you she came to me saying she wanted to be Miss America one day, I would always encourage her to dream big -- but point out that it’s not just about the glamour of it, but also the charity and the community service and earning of scholarships. But it wouldn’t surprise me to see her competing one day.
“My hope is that America will fall in love and respect the winner and that as Miss America 2012 she will be a very well-rounded woman -- smart, talented, beautiful and serious about service and scholarship. The entire group working on the show has such a family vibe about it, and that’s what helps it all work so well.”
Rehearsals for the telecast continued Friday until late and will get another run-through today. By noon today, each one of the 53 contestants will have their two 50-pound-maximum suitcases ready to fly off to New York to begin the reign if chosen as the winner -- 106 suitcases lined up, just in case! The moment she is crowned by 2011 Miss America Teresa Scanlan, one of the hostess chaperones will go to her hotel suite, pick up the two cases and transfer them to the winner’s suite at Planet Hollywood.
On Sunday, the new 2012 Miss America flies to New York for Monday morning TV appearances and then starts a grueling 12-month schedule of more than 20,000 miles of air travel a month for a year with only two trips home until she returns here in January 2013 to start the process all over again. Incidentally, the 53 Miss America Outstanding Teens, some of whom will compete in next year’s Miss America Pageant, visited Wayne Newton’s Casa Shenandoah on Friday.
Miss America’s return to ABC last year garnered a 49 percent ratings increase for the time slot with a record 15 million viewers. “We haven’t set a target this time but just want to do a little better each year. We are confident -- even going up against Tim Tebow -- that with our new-look show and tremendously talented girls that we will,” Sam summed up.
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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