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Tag: Miss America (1-10 of 13)

Miss America 2015: 'Jane Austin,' terrifying frogs, and more of what you missed

On the night of Sept. 14, some Americans expressed their patriotism by cheering as the Chicago Bears mauled the San Francisco 49ers. More refined types took in the first episode of Ken Burns’ The Roosevelts: An Intimate History on PBS. The classiest nationalists of all forewent TV entirely, choosing instead to read the Constitution by candlelight while listening to the collected works of John Philip Sousa and supping on a freshly roasted bald eagle.

But those of us who really know what these United States are all about spent the evening watching the unique ridiculosity that is the Miss America pageant on ABC. And while this year’s telecast suffered from a notable absence of butt glue, generally speaking, it didn’t disappoint: The smiles were unnaturally wide and white, the gowns were cheesy, and, most of all, the facts that popped onscreen during the talent portion were fun. (And weirdly focused on animal encounters.)

In the end, it all came down to two American paragons: Miss Virginia Paige Garrett, a Liberty University graduate who performed opera in a gown inspired by her favorite Holiday Barbie, and Miss New York Kira Kazantsev, a first-generation Russian-American who really, really loves Pitch Perfect. Kazantzev was victorious, becoming the 88th Miss America and the third consecutive winner from New York—but these alternate-category winners also deserve some recognition.


Oprah, Vanessa Williams, and other stars who got their start in beauty pageants


While Miss America hasn’t bred any headline-stealing celebrities recently, beauty pageants were once a place where future stars got their start. Oprah was Miss Black Tennessee; Halle Berry was Miss Ohio. Vanessa Williams made it all the way to the top, nabbing the Miss America title in 1984.

With Miss America’s 88th annual pageant airing Sunday on ABC at 9 p.m. ET, EW took a look at the most famous Oscar winners and television icons who once won crowns and sashes:

Cloris Leachman
Leachman represented Chicago in 1946’s Miss America pageant and, though she didn’t win the ultimate crown, earned enough prize money to move to New York and pay for acting classes. Things worked out for her, and she ended up performing alongside Katharine Hepburn in a Broadway production of As You Like It before winning an Academy Award for her role in 1971’s The Last Picture Show.
Where is she now? In the past year alone, the 88-year-old Leachman has appeared in The Croods, Girl Meets World, Hot in Cleveland, Kirstie, and Raising Hope.


Miss America Nina Davuluri sticks up for suspended high school student

A teenage boy in York, Penn. faced the ultimate rejection when he asked Miss America winner Nina Davuluri to prom. He didn’t get the girl — and his high school suspended him for even asking her. Ouch.

Davuluri, who won the 2014 Miss America crown this past September, went to Central York High School April 17 to give a presentation. That’s when the bold Patrick Farves gifted her a flower and asked her to the dance.


Miss America 2014: Butt glue, 'Breaking Bad' jokes, and more highlights from the show

After nearly a week of high-heeled dancing, Vaseline-covered teeth, and skillfully concealed hostility, the glitter has finally settled over Atlantic City — and 24-year-old Nina Davuluri of Syracuse, New York has been named the latest in a long line of all-American beauty queens. Davuluri isn’t just the second consecutive pageant winner from the Empire State — she’s also the first woman of Indian descent to snag the crown.

Obviously, congratulations are in order — but Nina’s not the only one who deserves a little recognition. Check out my list of alternate-category winners, and feel free to add your own… as long as you deliver them with a blindingly white smile.

Most Auspicious Name: Miss Alabama, a.k.a. Chandler Champion. Then again, maybe not; she didn’t even make it to the semi-finals.

Weirdest Intro Joke: “Listening to your phone calls from the nation’s capital. Just kidding! I’m Miss District of Columbia, Bindhu Pamarthi.”

Runner Up: “From the home of fast horses and beautiful women — better not get those two things confused. I am Jenna Day, Miss Kentucky!”


There she is: Miss America crowns its new Queen of Kitsch

It’s appropriate that the Miss America pageant, that charmingly vestigial celebration of beauty and bikinis, has been taking place in Las Vegas since 2006, and even more appropriate that, in this year’s competition, the first batch of perma-smiling contestants introduced themselves from the city’s Neon Museum. That’s because, like the museum, the pageant is an institution dedicated to honoring the long-standing tradition of American kitsch, a veritable trunk show of spangles and baton-twirling and everything else that makes this country so wonderfully weird. And it’s all brought to you by Amway, that quintessentially American business that’s either the epitome of bootstrapping or, as some have accused it of being, a pyramid scheme worthy of its own Paul Thomas Anderson movie.

In the end, 23-year-old Miss New York, a.k.a. Mallory Hagan, took home the coveted tiara, as well as a $50,000 college scholarship, but the whole telecast was a flurry of rhinestones and midriffs. There was strutting, there were innumerable state-based jokes—like Miss Wisconsin’s “Where I’m from, cutting the cheese is a big deal!”— and there was even someone dancing to Journey’s “Faithfully.” The pageant’s buzzwords have always been “class” and “poise,” and Audrey Hepburn is often cited as an inspirational figure, even though in practice the show does about as good a job of replicating Hepburn’s effortless elegance as would a black velvet painting of the actress. But I guess one of the basic elements of kitsch is a certain degree of missed aspiration, after all.

Gymnast McKayla Maroney swung by as one of the judges, although they didn’t get to do much until it came question time. There were no Miss Teen USA-style mental meltdowns, but Miss Iowa (who has the unfortunate name Mariah Cary) did explain that she only supports the use of marijuana for recreational and medical purposes, as opposed to what one can only imagine would be more inventive uses.

The argument is sometimes made that the pageant is supposed to be a celebration of womanhood, but that argument usually falls apart by the time the wolf-whistles start in during the swimsuit segment. Still, it’s fascinating to watch what is essentially an annual one-off reality competition—emceed, naturally, by Chris Harrison, the host of the ever classy and poised The Bachelor—in which it’s not entirely clear at what the winner is meant to be the best. Sure, it’s objective is objectification, but it’s such an odd artifact that it’s hard to imagine it has all that much cultural influence beyond its own sparkly borders.

Did anyone else tune in for ABC’s two hours of bright lights and bright teeth? Strut on down to the comments and tell us what you thought. Remember, you’ll receive points for personality as well as intelligence.

Fox & Friends pranked by aspiring comedian

On Monday, Fox & Friends invited former UT-Austin student Max Rice to talk about why he shifted his political allegiance from Obama to Romney. What they didn’t know at the time was that Rice is an aspiring comedian and agreed to the interview in order to make the network look foolish. Was he successful? That depends on what you deem “funny.”

I won’t recite the entire clip, but I will say that Rice didn’t do much by way of comedy. He made a dumb joke about host Gretchen Carlson’s Miss America title, but most of his routine consisted of shifting nervously in his chair and responding like a 10-year-old. It’s not so much funny as it is uncomfortably priggish. READ FULL STORY

Anyone else counting the seconds until 'Miss America' tonight?

Just a little more than four hours until my inner feminist gives me the finger for relishing every second of the Miss America pageant. The cheesy lighting, the horrible swimsuits matched with mall pumps, the goal of attaining a sash and a tacky bouquet of flowers masked as a scholarship. Is there any redeeming value to this show, now in its 91st year? Will we see some display of talent or ability to put one foot in front of the other that we have never seen before? Normally, I would say no. But this year I have learned that Miss Hawaii, Lauren Cheape, won Thursday night’s preliminary competition (What? You thought all the talent of these 50 ladies could be contained to one night? There have been three days leading up to tonight’s bonanza!) for a jumprope routine performance to the theme from Hawaii-Five-0. That is not a slow song, people. It’s not like she jumped rope to the theme of Dallas. Not convinced Miss America is worth your time? Allow me to overcompensate convince you: If nothing else, watching tonight’s parade of bedazzled and bejeweled evening gowns with prepare us for tomorrow night’s Golden Globes where the inevitable sartorial train wrecks will look positively elegant by comparison. And besides, I trust Miss America judges Mike Fleiss (the hilarious creator of The Bachelor), Kris Jenner (the unintentionally hilarious birther to the Kardashians), and Mark Ballas (eh, he’s not that hilarious on Dancing With the Stars, but he knows how to work spandex) a hell of a lot more than the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

What do you all think? Will you be watching Miss America tonight or would you rather be caught dead cheering for someone who equates jumping rope with genuine talent?

The Miss America Pageant is tonight on ABC: Did you realize that? Will you watch?

Miss-America-hosts-BrookeImage Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images; Glenn Harris/PR Photos The 90th annual Miss America Pageant airs tonight on ABC, with ABC-tastic hosts Chris Harrison of The Bachelor and Brooke Burke of Dancing with the Stars (pictured here). To that I say: Really? I honestly had no idea that the show was even airing until yesterday. Maybe I haven’t been watching enough ABC or frequenting websites that teen girls regularly go to or am not reading the right magazines, but I haven’t seen a scrap of promotion for this year’s pageant. Where are the billboards? The magazine advertisements? The hosts and last year’s winner Miss Virginia parading through the morning-show circuit? The lack of all that—and the fact that the show has been decline for well over a decade—doesn’t bode well for its ratings, which have been in a tailspin for years. (I chronicled the Miss America woes one year ago in a story not-so-subtly titled Who Killed Miss America?) In lots of ways, it’s surprising that the pageant is even on one of the Big Four broadcast networks this year, since it had been on cable—first CMT, then TLC—for the past several years before even TLC gave it the boot after last year’s pageant drew only 4.5 million viewers. ABC last aired the pageant in 2004, which drew 9.8 million viewers—a far cry from the 33 million who tuned in in 1998. The point is: Very few people are watching this show today, but it’s not helped by the fact that it doesn’t seem to be very visible. And that it’s buried on a Saturday night. And is sort of antiquated.

All of this brings me to my question at hand. Like I said, I had no idea the pageant was even on ABC until yesterday.  Were you aware? Are you planning to watch? And most importantly: Why or why not? Sound off in the comments below please! Would love to hear your take.

UPDATE: Miss America 2011 winner is…

More from EW.com:
Who Killed Miss America?
Miss America 2010: Miss Virginia wins
TLC drops Miss America pageant

Miss Universe 2010: 10 ridiculous opening gasps

miss-universe-mexicoImage Credit: Miss Universe OrganizationCongratulations to Mexico’s Jimena Navarrete, the winner of Miss Universe 2010, and to host Natalie Morales for speaking to her in Spanish! Isn’t she lovely? Now get thee to the after-party! Other host Bret Michaels: “I’m glad they’re taping this, because I’m not going to remember any of it.” Olé.

It’s important, though, to recognize the night’s complete range of talents. The introductions featured 83 contestants and then…poof! Within moments, only 15 were left. So if you were a smart cookie (who is never allowed to eat a cookie), you knew that a sultry open-mouth gasp was the best way to make your mark and appear on EW.com’s PopWatch the next day. Below, a tribute to the fallen heroes, in ascending order of ridiculousness.

Italy will cut you. READ FULL STORY

Miss USA's sexy photo scandal: This time it was intentional!

miss-iowaFormer Miss USA finalist Carrie Prejean is probably biting her tongue today. As some of you might have already seen, the competition’s official “glam” pictures show this year’s Miss USA contestants writing on beds and posing seductively — all with the Donald’s seal of approval.

While Prejean may have been persecuted in May 2009 for posing topless, Donald Trump, owner of the Miss Universe organization, is defending this year’s sexy pics, explaining: “We are in a different age. They are a little bit sexy but I’ll tell you what — everybody’s watching, so I have no problems with it,” Trump says. “If you look at Miss America, it’s now off network television — and we’re doing better than ever, so I really have no problem with it.”

True, posing topless isn’t quite the same as posing seductively, but since I drink beauty pageant haterade, turning these women into literal sexual objects as opposed to the demure, but latent, sexuality of past Miss USA pageants is definitely not something I can get behind.

What do you guys think of the pictures? Is this much ado about nothing or should the organization have rethought their game plan?

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