12.27.2017

Review Of Miss Universe 2017 Telecast

CREDIT: MISS UNIVERSE ORGANIZATION

Las Vegas, Nevada – November 26, 2017 – Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, a 22-year-old business management from Western Cape, South Africa, was crowned Miss Universe 2017 at the AXIS at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, Nevada. The telecast aired live on FOX for the third year in a row.  But compared to last year's U.S. telecast which started on time, this year's U.S. telecast was pre-emptied by an NFL game for the first twenty-five minutes, much to my disgust! Luckily, the show was live streamed on Facebook, which was a first in the pageant's history. I found myself watching the live stream on Facebook on my iPhone and the delayed telecast at the same time! 

     Nel-Peters was crowned by outgoing queen Iris Mittenaere from France. Nel-Peters' victory marks the second time that South Africa has won the Miss Universe crown (Margaret Gardiner won in 1978).  According to the Miss Universe website: "... in her spare time, Demi-Leigh is passionate about a program she helped develop to train women in self-defense in various situations called the Unbreakable campaign. She was inspired to launch it by the attempted hijacking she experienced earlier this year in Johannesburg. She plans to share these workshops and help as many women as she can." One wonders if Demi-Leigh had not been hijacked, then she would not have any interesting story to tell and perhaps might have barely made the cut.

     For the third straight year in a row, Emmy Award winner Steve Harvey hosted the three-hour event with backstage commentary from "body activist" and top model Ashley Graham, style expert Carson Kressley, and walking coach and model Lu Sierra. Grammy-award entertainer Fergie and international pop star Rachel Platten provided the entertainment. 

      The panel of judges included former Miss Universe winners Pia Wurtzbach (2015) and Wendy Fitzwilliam (1998), TV personality Ross Mathews, makeup artist and entrepreneur Jay Manuel, social media celebrity Lele Pons, and UFC backstage correspondent and host Megan Olivi.


      A record total of 92 countries were represented in the 66th edition of the pageant which was held ten months after the 65th edition which was held on January 30, 2017 in the Philippines. Hopefully, the pageant from now on will take place consistently once a year.


Final Results:


First Runner-Up:  Colombia, Laura Gonzalez


Second Runner-Up: Jamaica, Davina Bennett

Top Three: Colombia, Laura Gonzalez;  South Africa, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters; Jamaica, Davina Bennett

Top Five:  Colombia, Laura Gonzalez;  South Africa, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters; Jamaica, Davina Bennett; Thailand, Maria Poonlertlarp; Venezuela, Keysi Sayago

Top Ten:  Colombia, Laura Gonzalez;  South Africa, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters; Jamaica, Davina Bennett; Thailand, Maria Poonlertlarp; Venezuela, Keysi Sayago; Brazil. Monalisa Alcantara; Canada, Lauren Howe; Philippines, Rachel Peters; Spain, Sofia del Prado; USA,  Kára McCullough. 


Top Sixteen: Colombia, Laura Gonzalez;  South Africa, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters; Jamaica, Davina Bennett; Thailand, Maria Poonlertlarp; Venezuela, Keysi Sayago; Brazil. Monalisa Alcantara; Canada, Lauren Howe; Philippines, Rachel Peters; Spain, Sofia del Prado; USA,  Kára McCullough; China, Roxette Qiu; Croatia, Shanaelle Petty; Ghana, Ruth Quashie; Great Britain, Anna Burdzy; Ireland, Cailín Toíbín; and Sri Lanka, Christina Peiris.


Best National Costume: Japan, Momoko Abe.  The winners of this award usually wear the most colorful, the most elaborate, the most culturally significant, and yes, the heaviest costume - as in the case of last year's winner from Myanmar, Htet Htet Htun, who "wore" a traditional Burmese puppetry. This year's Myanmar delegate, Zun Thansin, has outdone her predecessor by "wearing" an enormous prop representing a traditional Burmese musical orchestra. If Thansin had thought that she could outdo Htun's costume and win for Myanmar again, well she had thought wrong. This year, the judges picked Japan whose costume had the biggest surprise element of all - a samurai outfit which doubles as a kimono!





     Usually, special awardees were announced during the telecast but MUO has scrapped this tradition over a decade ago. Now, the awardees are announced either during an après party or posted on social media, which I find tacky and undignified. This year, Miss Panama Laura de Sanctis was voted as Miss Congeniality. This is the second time that a Miss Photogenic award was not distributed (the first being in 2015) -  which is pathetic especially since there were so many girls that looked stunning in photographs. Is MUO really on a tight budget that they can't afford to splurge another $1,000 as prize cash for a Miss Photogenic? With the astronomical figure that they had paid Steve Harvey to host for the third time, $1,000 is peanuts.



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The Top Three

      Misses Thailand and Venezuela were eliminated after the Top 5 question round, which left Misses South Africa, Colombia and Jamaica at the Top 3. Don't you just love Colombia's infectious ecstatic reaction? 

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     After the Top 3 Final Question round, each top finalist had to sashay on stage for the final look while entertainer Rachel Platten sang her hit song, "Broken Glass."  Minutes later,  the official results were announced: a disappointed Miss Jamaica was declared 2nd runner-up, which left Miss South Africa and Miss Colombia as the last two women standing. Finally, host Steve Harvey declares Miss South Africa as Miss Universe and Miss Colombia as 1st runner-up:  


CREDIT: ASSOCIATED PRESS

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Innovations... but


The opening number and the new selection format The stage is a repeat of the 2015 show when it was held at the same venue (AXIS) in Las Vegas. It had 
gigantic LED screens that featured the respective flags of each contestant. But the introduction is an almost repeat of last year's when the candidates did not get to introduce themselves. Instead, a feminine voice-over introduced each contestant - not alphabetically - but by region, which is reminiscent of the regional introductions that first began in the early 1990s. However, a new component was added:  the selection of top four scorers from each region (the Americas, Europe, Asia/Africa/Oceania) plus wild cards (the top four scorers regardless of the region). This new selection format sought to offer an equal and fair opportunity especially to countries that have never or rarely placed, but to me it reeked of political correctness. Why should the judges be compelled to advance a mediocre contestant just because her country has not done well in the last 40 or 50 years? I supposed the pageant's new owners, IMG, wishes to perpetuate the notion of global inclusion by telling the world that it is not okay to ignore countries with non-existent pageant tradition. 



Lauriela Martins, Miss Universe Angola 2017, struts her stuff during the opening number.

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Las Vegas, baby. For the fifth time, the pageant was held in the City of Lights, Las Vegas. And for the second time at the AXIS. Critics claim that the only reason Las Vegas hosted the pageant again was that no other country would host it and/or that no country could afford the exorbitant hosting fees charged by MUO. So naturally, Las Vegas automatically became the default host city. Nothing wrong with that.  The city was designed to host all sorts of events, and it is fully equipped with everything that MUO needs to put on a good show. One major concern that was brought up by naysayers was that the city had been the target of a crazy gunman who had opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas Strip last October 1, killing 58 innocent people. What if a similar incident occurred at the Miss Universe pageant? It was a legitimate concern; however, MUO's security staff is one of the toughest in the pageant world. It is so tough that even national directors are prohibited from seeing or speaking to their delegates during the entire competition. 
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The swimsuit and evening gown presentations return to tradition. I guess this year MUO yielded to the demands of pageant fans who hated last year's presentations where the finalists had to come out in groups of three. This time, it was back to the 2015 format with the girls being introduced one by one, and thus giving each of them more airtime. In the swimsuit segment, the girls with the best bodies are Philippines, Ghana, USA, Colombia and South Africa, but Venezuela and Brazil ruled the catwalk. Thailand was the only one who opted to wear a one-piece (what was she hiding?) In the evening gown segment, Jamaica's bright and intricately designed yellow gown was a real showstopper and complimented her glowing ebony complexion. Philippines looked the sexiest in her sleeveless, crystal-studded light-blue gown with a plunging neckline and high slit which enhanced her ridiculously hot body. Although I don't particularly care for South Africa's long-sleeved nude gown, she did give the best stage projection with her exquisite face and killer smize! As commentator Lu Sierra would constantly stress, "It's all about the girl, the face, the eye contact." 





Smizin' To Win: South Africa's Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters
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Miss-Matched / Separated At Birth? Did anyone notice the striking resemblance between Miss USA Kára McCullough (left) and Miss Brazil Monalysa Alcântara (right) especially during the swimsuit line-up? Matching hairdo, matching smile, matching leg stance, matching swimsuit. Imagine if they had been the last two standing finalists. Who do you think would have won?




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Diverse swimsuit styles: This year's top 16 reflected a true rainbow coalition of beauties from all shades and colors. But did you notice, too, that they also sashayed in diverse swimsuit styles and wrap? Cool, isn't it? 




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Surprises, surprises! Let's face it: it is rare for a pageant expert or fanatic to successfully predict which countries will make the cut, as every year there will always be one, two or more non-favorite countries that will always pull a surprise. This year, there were five: Croatia, Ireland, China and in the photo below, Sri Lanka (Christina Peiris) and Ghana (Ruth Quashie). Croatia has been  participating consistently since 1997 and so far has placed twice in the top 15 (2009, 2012); its representative, Shanaelle Petty, was nowhere on the list of favorites of most fans, as she was just as shocked as I was when her country was called. Ireland started competing in 1961 but has never won;  Cailín Áine Ní Toibín's top 16 placement is the first for Ireland since Rozanna Purcell's Top 6 position in 2010. Ruth Quashie gave Ghana its second Top 16 placement since 1999, whereas China also got its second since 2013. 




And speaking of China, let's appreciate her quasi-androgynous look:



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Wild card, wild fans. The Philippines has been placing consistently at Miss Universe since Venus Raj in 2010, and Rachel Peters was not about to break that streak. When her country was not called as a top scorer from the Asia/Africa/Oceania region, it caused much anxiety to her huge league of Filipino fans. Thank God this anxiety quickly turned to rambunctious tranquility when Rachel's country was called as the first wild card. 



Rachel Peters' sigh of relief 


 Filipino fans going wild when their country's rep made the cut. It's hard to imagine a Miss Universe pageant without wild, passionate and entertaining Filipino fans in the audience, as they add so much color and amusement to the show!
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 How do you solve a problem like Maria?  They say that your answer to the final question will either make you or break you. While the other four finalists aced their respective questions, Thailand's Maria Poonlertlarp struggled with her answer to this question, "What do you think has been the most important social movement of your generation and why?" Her response: "I think the most important social movement so far is that we’re having an aging population. So the most important movement in our time is definitely the youth. So the youth is the future, the youth is something we have to invest in because they’re the ones who are gonna look after the earth that we live in." 


For someone who used to teach English, Maria seemed unsure about what a social movement is. One could assume that she probably meant that society needs to care about old people and thus we need to encourage today's youth to look after the elderly. But something was lost in translation and overall her response sounded incoherent. Maria was actually my favorite for the crown and I was ecstatic to see her reach the top 5, but alas, she was not destined to win.
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 Fergie's performance. Wow! I have never seen a more heartfelt performance by a guest artist on a Miss Universe show until I witnessed Fergie's touching rendition of her latest hit, "A Little Work." Who wouldn't be touched by such profoundly spiritual and inspirational lyrics?

When everything around me starts to fall I rise up again to the call We're all just a little bit broken (yeah) We're all just a little bit hurt (yeah) We've all got wounds half open (yeah) We all can use a little work A little work A little


I'm pretty sure the contestants can relate to the song whenever they trip or fall on their butt or when they are bullied online by nasty fans. Lol
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Iris Mittenaere doing her final walk wearing a red crystal-studded strapless ball gown by Filipino designer Michael Cinco - the same guy who dressed Pia Wurtzbach in cobalt blue ballgown when she crowned Iris. Iris has never looked so radiant and beautiful:



So from a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest), how would I rate the 2017 telecast? I would give it a 6. The production was dull as dishwasher, Steve Harvey's jokes have become stale, the new selection format was inordinate, and the girls continued to wear those ugly Chinese Laundry tippy toe shoes. 

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by Rafa Delfin, 12/27/2017

12.24.2017

Miss America CEO & Others Resign Amid Scandal Over Offensive Emails – Update




2nd UPDATE, 12:03 PM: Miss America Organization CEO Sam Haskell resigned his post today amid an investigation into offensive emails he sent about a pageant winner. In a statement He has resigned along with president and COO Josh Randle and Lynn Weidner, the board chair who sent emails involved in the controversy.
According to a Twitter post from Dan Meyers, who is taking over as interim chairman, Weidner will remain on the board during a transition period:
UPDATED, 5:30 PM: The Miss America Organization suspended its chief executive today, less than 24 hours after emails surfaced in which he disparaged the appearance, intellect and sex lives of a pageant winner, the Associated Press reported.
The organization said Sam Haskell would be suspended while the board conducts an in-depth investigation into the “alleged inappropriate communications” and the way in which they were obtained.
Haskell issued a statement attacking reporting of the incident as “dishonest, deceptive and despicable.”
“The material is based on private emails that were stolen three years ago by ex-employees,” Haskell wrote. “The story is so unkind and untrue, and hurts me, my family, and the stewardship of this nonprofit. Those who know my heart know that this is not indicative of my character, nor is it indicative of my business acumen.”
PREVIOUSLY, 10:13 AM: Dick Clark Productions has cut ties with the Miss America Organization after learning several months ago of offensive, sexist and cruel emails regarding past Miss America winners written by the beauty pageant’s CEO Sam Haskell.
DCP, which produced the nationally televised broadcast, says it severed relations with the group “shortly after” learning of the emails several months ago. News of the rift — and the emails — came to light with yesterday’s devastating Huffington Post article in which writer Yashar Ali unveiled three years worth of old emails in which Haskell joked about referring to past pageant winners as “c*nts.”
Haskell joined Miss America’s board in 2005 after retiring from the William Morris Agency as worldwide head of television.
ABC is set to air the 97th Miss America Pageant is set to air live from Atlantic City on September 10, 2018, with hosts Chris Harrison and Sage Steele. Deadline has reached out to ABC for comment.
Wrote Ali, “Haskell’s behavior behind closed doors shows he regularly maligned, fat-shamed and slut-shamed the former Miss Americas, calling them shocking names and in one case laughing at the suggestion that one of the women should die.”
In a statement to Deadline, DCP said: “Several months ago, dick clark productions was made aware of a portion of the emails that were referenced in the December 21 Huffington Post article. We were appalled by their unacceptable content and insisted, in the strongest possible terms, that the Miss America Organization (MAO) board of directors conduct a comprehensive investigation and take appropriate action to address the situation. Shortly thereafter, we resigned our board positions and notified MAO that we were terminating our relationship with them.”
DCP and the Miss America Organization entered a co-production deal in 2014 and have co-produced the show since the 2015 pageant.
Sam Haskell
AP
The emails written by Haskell to a writer for the pageant were provided to HuffPo by two sources. “They reveal a CEO who regularly wrote and responded to unprofessional, offensive emails about the women who poured their hearts into the pageants and the organization he was leading,” Ali wrote.
Haskell told the Associated Press that he has apologized to the pageant board and will further address the controversy today.
Since the story’s publication Thursday, 49 former Miss Americas are calling for the resignations of the organization’s top leadership: CEO Haskell, President Josh Randle, board Chair Lynn Weidner and board member Tammy Haddad.
Gretchen Carlson
Gregory Pace/BEI/Shutterstock
Among the revelations alleged in the lengthy HuffPo story is Haskell’s apparent dislike for Gretchen Carlson, the 1989 Miss America winner and member of the organization’s board of directors. At issue, reportedly, was Carlson’s push to modernize the organization.
In one email to a colleague, Haskell wrote, “Brilliant…..f*cking Brilliant!!!! That will drive Gretchen INF*CKINGSANE.” After Carlson resigned from the board, Haskell crowed that Carlson “couldn’t be trusted.”
In a response to to HuffPost Thursday, former Fox News personality Carlson said: “As a proud former Miss America and former member of the Board of the Miss America Organization, I am shocked and deeply saddened by the disgusting statements about women attributed to the leadership of the MAO. No woman should be demeaned with such vulgar slurs. As I’ve learned, harassment and shaming of women is never acceptable and should never be tolerated. Every MAO executive and board member who engaged in such crude behavior and signed off on it like it was no big deal should resign immediately. The Miss America Organization, which is tasked to uphold an almost 100 year old tradition of female empowerment and scholarship, deserves better. I hope all former Miss Americas, state and local titleholders and volunteers will join me in a collective effort to fight for the dignity of this great institution.”
Source: Deadline.com, 12/24/2017

12.21.2017

Miss America CEO Accused of Slut-Shaming, Fat-Shaming Winners Over Email



CEO Sam Haskell speaks on stage during a Miss America pageant in New Jersey this September.

 (DONALD KRAVITZ/GETTY IMAGES FOR DICK CLARK PROD)



The CEO of Miss America regularly exchanged expletive-ridden emails in which he or others slut-shamed and name-called young women competing in the iconic beauty pageant, a trove of leaked correspondences revealed Thursday.

The emails, obtained by HuffPost, paint a disturbing picture of how CEO Sam Haskell frequently used shocking and sexually-charged terms to refer to contestants, including 2013 winner Mallory Hagan and Gretchen Carlson, the ex-Fox News anchor who won the pageant in 1989.

The 62-year-old executive's harshly worded correspondences at times took on the entire pageant community.

In an August 2014 email to a prominent Miss America telecast writer, Haskell said that he wanted to stop calling former contestants "Forever Miss Americas" and instead refer to them as "Former Miss Americas."

Olivia Munn calls for a ‘zero-tolerance policy’ on sexual abuse
"I'd already changed 'Forevers' to 'C---s.' Does that work for you?" the writer, Lewis Friedman, responded.

Within minutes, Haskell replied, "Perfect…bahahaha."

Haskell appears to have particular disdain for Hagan.

In the summer of 2014, Haskell forwarded an email to Friedman and two other executives from someone he knew who had commented about Hagan's sex life and recent weight gain.


Haskell appears to have particular disdain for Mallory Hagan, who won the pageant in 2013.

 (DAVID BECKER/GETTY IMAGES)
"Not a single day passes that I am not told some horrible story about Mallory," Haskell wrote.
Friedman shot back, "As she continue to destroy her own credibility, her voice will attract less and less notice while she continues her descent to an unhappy pathetic footnote…Ps. Are we four the only ones not to have f----d Mallory?"
"It appears we are the only ones!" Haskell responded, adding that he told the mother of a man Hagan had supposedly slept with that "he needs to have a blood test because we lost count of the number of men she slept with at 25."
Haskell has been credited with getting Miss America back up on its feet after joining the organization as a board member in 2005. But his tenure there has also been the subject of much controversy, especially his hefty $500,000 salary.
Haskell apparently felt like Hagan was "viciously and cruelly" attacking him and his family "every day" over the direction he was steering the pageant in. One of Haskell's subordinates suggested in an email that he should hire an investigator and "get something on her."
"Threatening her won't work and we already have 'enough info on her' to shut down Ft. Knox," Haskell responded. "I really think the best way is to shut down her social media and convince the Formers to ostracize her."

Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson was also targeted by Haskell.

 (RICHARD DREW/AP)
It's not clear why Haskell felt this way and Hagan's social media profiles do not reveal anything particularly hostile towards him. Haskell did not respond to a request for comment from the Daily News.
Haskell's issue with Carlson also appears to have been primarily focused on the ex-Fox News host taking issue with how he runs the pageant.
On Aug. 15, 2014, one of Haskell's executives sent an email to a number of former pageant winners, including Carlson, asking them to push back against a book published by another Miss America winner who questioned why Haskell had been paid a $500,000 consulting fee when the company was in the red financially.
"It's one thing to talk about your own personal experience as Miss America…but totally different to attack people individually," Carlson responded.
The executive forwarded the response to Haskell and, calling Carlson a "snake," asked him to tell the board members on a phone call that "it's a shame" that so few Miss Americas were willing to help.
"Brilliant…..f-----g Brilliant!!!! That will drive Gretchen INF---INGSANE."
The email that prompted the most anger from former Miss America contestants appears to have been the one referring to them as "c---s."
"I'm appalled," former contestant Allyn Rose tweeted Thursday night. "The intelligent, talented, dynamic women of this program deserve more than this kind of 'leadership.' "
Source: NY Daily News, 12/21/2017