Miss America Pageant Returns to Network Television
By The Editors at AOL News Posted Jan 14th 2011 02:00PM
Barry Manilow posed after his show at Paris Las Vegas on Jan 7th with the 2011 Miss America contestants, whom will vie for the coveted title on Saturday. The women attended his show as part of their pre-pageant publicity.
There she is, Miss America. The question is, will anyone notice?
Those in charge are convinced that this is the year that the iconic but long-beleaguered beauty pageant re-establishes its rightful place in the nation's consciousness as it returns triumphantly to network TV on Saturday for its 90th strut after five years in the cable wilderness. ABC's live broadcast will begin at 9PM EST.
"America loves a comeback story," Sam Haskell, chairman of the Miss America Organization, told AOL News. "When you figure out how education and scholarship and talent and service are all put in the forefront, there was nothing to do but come back."
That's the strategy, anyway.
It's been many years since a Miss America became a household name -- quick, name last year's winner! The public's attention has turned toward the competing Miss USA pageant, thanks largely to a steady succession of sex and political scandals. ABC dumped Miss America after the 2005 pageant, so the show moved first to CMT and then to TLC and from downtrodden Atlantic City to glitzy Las Vegas.
Rather than hop into the Jerry Springer gutter, however, Miss America partisans opted for the more Oprah-esque approach, emphasizing good deeds and inspiration. They stressed that the Miss America Organization raises and distributes millions of dollars for scholarships and requires its contestants to do public service.
"You're always telling people the difference between Miss USA and Miss America," admitted Miss America 2000, Heather French Henry of Kentucky, who spent the past decade lobbying Congress for more funding for homeless war veterans. "We're a nonprofit organization dedicated to scholarship, and they're not. I think our mission is creating positive headlines without having controversy."
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