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2013 Miss America photos: Terry Fator, Fashion Show, Buca di Beppo and Thunderbirds


David Tingey/

The USAF Thunderbirds flyover above the Strip with 2012 Miss America Laura Kaeppeler for the 2013 Miss America Pageant on Monday, Jan. 7, 2013.

Updated Monday, Jan. 7, 2013 | 7:20 p.m.

2013 Miss America Pageant: Thunderbirds Flyover

The USAF Thunderbirds flyover above the Strip with 2012 Miss America Laura Kaeppeler for the 2013 Miss America Pageant on Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. Launch slideshow »

USAF Thunderbirds/Christopher Rauschnot @24kMedia on Twitter

2013 Miss America Pageant: Terry Fator at The Mirage

The 2013 Miss America Pageant contestants attend Terry Fator's headliner show at The Mirage on Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. Launch slideshow »

2013 Miss America Pageant: Fashion Show Mall

2013 Miss America Pageant contestants at Fashion Show mall in Las Vegas on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013. Launch slideshow »

2013 Miss America Pageant: Buca di Beppo

2013 Miss America Pageant contestants at Buca di Beppo in Las Vegas on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013. Launch slideshow »

2013 Miss America at Buca di Beppo/Richard Corey

2013 Miss America at Buca di Beppo/Richard Corey

For the first time, the USAF Thunderbirds will roar over the Strip, and for 2013 Miss America Pageant TV producer Tony Eaton, it will be the most difficult camera shot of his career.

Air space in and around the Strip will be partly shut today for just two diamond-shaped passes of the monstrous $20 million-plus jets from Nellis Air Force Base streaming the red, white and blue smoke plumes.

Vegas DeLuxe has learned that the dream video will be used -- if captured successfully -- in Saturday’s ABC telecast from PH Live at Planet Hollywood. “It will be the most difficult and challenging camera shot of my career,” Tony told me. “We only have two chances to get the most complicated set-up in the world right!”

Tony will use three cameras at the 4 and 4:15 p.m. passes of the F-16 aircraft, and he has to get it on the money. Miss America Laura Kaeppeler also has to get her welcome introduction right -- no flub or fumble. The camera crew has to get it right, too -- no mechanical or technical hiccups.

“There was a lot of heavy lifting to pull off this coup,” Tony told me. “It’s been almost a year in the planning, and it’s the first time it’s ever been done. We won’t even begin to talk about the special permissions for the restricted airspace above the Strip! There can’t be rehearsals with the planes, of course, but we do have some advance dry runs for timing purposes on our side of the equation.

“We will be up on the roof of Planet Hollywood. The jets will come up from the south to the north, and Laura will begin speaking her lines as we see the planes materialize over her left shoulder. I’m confident she will do absolutely fine: She is Miss America!”

Our contributing photographer Tom Donoghue will be up on the roof with Laura and the TV crews, and we’ll post his photos ASAP. It’s been a whirlwind weekend for the 53 Miss America contestants (our thanks to Tom for his photo galleries and to Christopher Rauschnot @24kMedia on Twitter and Richard Corey for their videos posted on YouTube):

* They visited Mirage headliner entertainer Terry Fator at his show, and despite doctors warning him about his throat under the weather from a bad cough and cold, he insisted on performing. He hosted them all onstage and gave each one a toy of his ventriloquist dolls.

* The state pageant princesses also for the eighth consecutive year paraded for family, friends and fans on the 80-foot Plexiglas runway at Fashion Show mall in outfits they’d chosen to reflect their personality and style. Las Vegas socialite Lynn Weidner, a former Miss Jersey who serves on the Miss America Board of Directors, introduced the girls. Afterward, they signed autographs and posed for photographs and gave hugs to young girls who themselves dream of growing up to be Miss America one day.

* It was a saucy night -- pasta style -- at Robert Earl’s Buca di Beppo to celebrate National Spaghetti Day. The girls “cemented” their handprints in the sauce and got even messier trying the half-pound meatballs and the colossal cream brownie sundaes. Not exactly the diet for a pageant?!

Additional filming locations in Las Vegas featured in the broadcast that will provide extraordinary exposure for our city: Cirque du Soleil’s “O” at the Bellagio, Neon Museum, The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Mizumi at Wynn, Voodoo at The Rio and chef Kerry Simon’s Kerry’s Gourmet Burgers in Harrah’s.

“We’ll have about 10 girls at each one of the different location shoots,” Tony said. He also revealed that he has a surprise for the contestants at the start of the show.

“I get asked a lot if I look at other televised pageant shows, but truth is I don’t. Miss America is totally different from anything else. We have so many talented girls taking part. But I’ve got a wrinkle planned early on in the show, and if it works out it will ripple through the show to the end -- so you have to watch right from the start!”

In addition to the one-hour “20/20” special “Pageant Confidential: Road to the Crown” airing before the pageant with “Good Morning America” host Lara Spencer, she joins colleague Sam Champion today, Tuesday and Friday for live segments here.

Over the weekend, “Dancing With the Stars” pro dancer champion Cheryl Burke, who is one of the celebrity judges, filmed a segment with Sam at Marquee in The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, and they stayed afterward to dance and celebrate the birthday of DJ Nicky Romero while he spun the wheels of steel.

As we reported Saturday, “20/20” cameras will start videotaping today for the first time ever behind the doors of the judges’ rooms as they interview the contestants. It’s the most crucial of the segments that determine the Top 10.

Check back later today for the Thunderbirds, and continue to follow Vegas DeLuxe all week as we post coverage of the preliminaries and interviews with contestants, judges and co-hosts Brooke Burke-Charvet and Chris Harrison.

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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