Being Miss Maumee Valley

Friday, November 18, 2005

Miss America Press: Vegas Here She Comes...

Below is an article from the city who lost their Miss...

Vegas, here she comes
Contestants, supporters relieved to learn locale

November 17, 2005

ATLANTIC CITY-The next Miss America will be crowned in another casino resort - Las Vegas.The pageant that started as a publicity stunt by local merchants to drum up business each fall will take its show on the road in January, ending a beloved 84-year-old tradition in Atlantic City.

"Las Vegas is the perfect host city," Miss America Organization President Art McMaster said in a statement.

The show will be broadcast live on the East Coast on Jan. 21 from the Aladdin Resort & Casino, soon to be Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino. The theater seats 7,000 people, about half the capacity of Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, and is already equipped as a television studio, spokeswoman Amy Sadowsky said. The Radio Music Awards are broadcast live from the arena every year.

The Miss America pageant will be a boon for the hotel, Sadowsky said.

"It raises our profile nationally, and that's a good thing," she said.

Pageant supporters said they are relieved the organization picked a place.

"Everyone has been so incredibly frustrated. Parents have to get plane tickets and rooms. That doesn't leave them much time," said Bill Wolfe of Kansas City, Mo. He has attended every Miss America pageant since 1980 and works as a musical arranger for contestants.

"I think Las Vegas and Atlantic City are one and the same," he said. "I was surprised if they would move it out of Atlantic City they would take it to Las Vegas."

Earlier this year, the pageant backed out of the last two years of its contract at Boardwalk Hall, citing the organization's financial straits. The pageant lost $1.7 million in 2004. ABC dropped the pageant after its ratings tanked last year. The Miss America Organization made a deal with Country Music Television for broadcast rights through 2007.

"It's certainly not the ideal situation for the Miss America program to be broadcast out of a casino," said Leonard Horn, CEO of the Miss America Organization from 1987 to 1999. He now lives in Tennessee.

Horn said Atlantic City was not snubbed by the move to the larger casino town. Atlantic City's casinos never embraced the pageant.

"I think Atlantic City did need the Miss America program, but I don't think they knew it," Horn said. "At best, the casinos tolerated the Miss America program and reluctantly provided room support."

Several casino executives asked him to stage the pageant during the week, when occupancy was low, instead of on a Saturday night when the rooms were filled with gamblers. But the TV network never went for a midweek production, he said.

"It's never been tied to a casino and has always been broadcast from a city," he said. "But given the circumstances, I think if it's the best they can do, I wish them success."

Kate Shindle, Miss America 1998, said the organization still has to grapple with its identity to survive.

"The pageant's problems are not about the venue or how many people will fit in the auditorium or even whether it's in another casino town," she said. "It's all about leadership. This doesn't solve that. The people running the show still don't know what they're selling."

This hotel opened in 1963 as the Tally Ho. Its Theatre for Performing Arts opened in 1976 when Neil Diamond was the headliner. The original hotel was razed in spring 1998, but the theater was spared.

The new Aladdin opened in 2000 but was soon beset by financial difficulties. Some said it was a place for Las Vegas visitors to sleep while they spent their money elsewhere on the Strip. The 2,567-room hotel-casino went bankrupt and was sold to Planet Hollywood last year. It will assume the Planet Hollywood name at the end of 2006, Sadowsky said.


With a single hotel serving as host, the pageant will need fewer volunteers than the cadre of several hundred who helped out during pageant week in Atlantic City, Horn said. The contestants likely will stay under one roof instead of being spread out at a dozen different hotels around Atlantic City. This could reduce the need for chaperones, too, he said.

The Miss America Organization kept the wraps on the location and refused to disclose even the short list of cities it was considering. As late as Tuesday night, Miss America 2005 Deidre Downs told an interviewer at the Country Music Awards that she did not know where the pageant would be held.

"It's still a surprise," she said.

The organization's electronic announcement included a photo of the crowned Downs posing beneath a sign reading, "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada.

"The location might have been the worst-kept secret since nude photos of Vanessa Williams appeared in Penthouse in 1984. Supporters have been speculating about Las Vegas and the Aladdin for more than a month. But as the weeks passed, the anxiety grew for contestants and their supporters.


Miss New Jersey Julie Robenhymer said she is happy that the suspense is over.

"Who cares? We're going to Las Vegas!" she said.She learned the news Wednesday afternoon when it was announced."

When they said it was moving out of Atlantic City, my one wish was that it would be in a state I've never been to before," she said. "

Nevada will be state No. 27 on my list. I am very excited."


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