The Miss America pageant is embracing reality.
And the first episode of “Miss America: Reality Check,” which aired Friday, surely sent shivers through the old-school pageant establishment.
The four-part reality show puts the 52 contestants under one roof and, at times, under severe scrutiny from non-pageant fashion and beauty experts. The Miss America pageant returns to Planet Hollywood Resort on Jan. 26, for the third year in a row (TLC, 8 p.m., tape delayed on the West Coast).
Some of Friday’s more memorable cringe-inducing moments:
When the contestants’ suitcases were checked for fashion faux pas, fashion guru Stacy London of TLC’s “What Not to Wear,” held up a pair of high, gold-jeweled boots and said, “These boots were made for … streetwalkers!”
A gasp came from Miss South Carolina Crystal Garrett, who brought the boots.
From another suitcase came a white gown belonging to Miss Pennsylvania Rachel Brooks, who planned to wear it for the talent competition later this month.
“Here’s just a small tip, maybe,” said London. “Stay away from polyester.” Her “What Not to Wear” co-host Clinton Kelly chimed in, “Yes, because that’s what strippers wear.”
One of the show’s advisers, British celebrity photographer Mark Liddell, told the contestants to remember “less is more.”
The idea behind the reality show, said London, is to “modernize” the pageant’s staid image, “put fashion and style back in this icon.”
Liddell urged Miss Utah Jill Stevens, who admitted she never wore makeup, to “embrace your beauty and fashion side.” Miss Idaho Sadie Quigley took a beating for her big hair.
A somber note was struck during a gun-control discussion when Miss Colorado Maggie Ireland revealed that her brother, Patrick Ireland, was among the seriously wounded in the 1999 Columbine High School shootings. Shot in the head twice, he’s made a remarkable recovery.
The biggest surprise came at the end of the show when the three top candidates were chosen and the bottom three.
The top three: Stevens, Miss Utah; Brooks, Miss Pennsylvania; and Garrett, Miss South Carolina.
In the bottom three: Rachel Cole, Miss Vermont; Makenna Lee Smith, Miss Oklahoma; and Quigley, Miss Idaho.
Stay tuned. It’s beauty pageant TV like you’ve never seen.
THE SCENE AND HEARD
More on Paris Hilton’s Las Vegas business plans, mentioned here last week: She met with Pure Management Group to discuss a project on the Strip that does not involve a restaurant or a nightclub. …
Reality show star Kristin Cavallari celebrated her 21st birthday in the company of former flame NFL quarterback Matt Leinart early Saturday at Pure Nightclub at Caesars Palace. When Cavallari, in town to serve as Pure’s celebrity host on Saturday, and her friends showed up at Pure about 1 a.m., Leinart was waiting in the VIP section with a group of friends, including former USC teammate Chauncey Washington. The former Heisman Trophy winner and former star of “Laguna Beach” were seen leaving together about 3:30 a.m., when both groups left together.
NBA legend Michael Jordan, in the high-stakes blackjack pit at Bellagio on Friday. … Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, hitting the bubbly at Blush Boutique Nightclub (Wynn) on Friday. … Carmen Electra, stopping by LAX nightclub (Luxor) on Friday after an event at Studio 54 nightclub (MGM Grand). …
MTV reality stars Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt, hosting Friday’s party at Jet nightclub (Mirage). … Singer John Legend, celebrating his 29th birthday Friday with girlfriend/model Christine Tiegen at The Bank nightclub (Bellagio). … MTV star Steve O, hosting Friday’s party at Privé nightclub (Planet Hollywood Resort). Also at Privé: Cleveland Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards.
THE PUNCH LINE
“When reporting caucus results, media refers to you as ‘Other’” — From David Letterman’s Top Ten Signs Your Presidential Campaign is in Trouble
Norm Clarke can be reached at (702) 383-0244 or email@example.com. Find additional sightings and more online at www.normclarke.com.NORM CLARKEMORE COLUMNS