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And the winner of Miss Universe 2008 is… the new star of MTV’s Pageant Place! Oh wait, I mean Miss Venezuela.

Thank you Mr. Trump for bringing the universe yet another energetic, embarrassing episode of the Miss Universe pageant. This is like the Superbowl for women. I had my computer out (pad of paper is so five years ago) and kept score. Now the competition kept with all fairness of the scores being flashed after every pose and wink (or as Tyra Banks puts it, smiling with your eyes). It came down to Miss Colombia and Miss Venezuela who truly dominated the competition from the get-go. A few things, however, from this point on tended to bother me – this goes far beyond the two clenching each others hands waiting to hear who would be crowned.

The “Token Girls”:
What boggles my mind is all the “token” girls that need to be put in the top 15. Stop worrying about the press already Don, your PR rep can handle it!

Here are our “token” girls of 2008:
Miss Kosovo – first time this country that borders Serbia and Albania has ever been included, and therefore she gets face time!
Miss USA – standard rules apply here, no one expects Miss USA to be left out.
Miss Vietnam – keeping the host country happy.
Miss Japan – she won last year, but you get top 15 just for realizing you have no hope in hell of winning.

That leaves 11 spots up for grabs! Now come on. I like to watch a fair parade of women in bikinis and overbearing evening gowns. Inserting the obvious just cuts away from the fun.

However, the last two Miss USA’s – Rachel Smith and Crystle Stewart – have proven why their spot needs to be moved from “token” to “tradition”. The press that these women have, and will receive, over their falls in the evening gown competition could not have been thought up by the brightest PR practitioner. This kind of press is golden! Youtube, People, NY Times; they have all shown and wrote about the infamous fall of 2007 that left Rachel at the bottom of the top five. This year, Miss USA was left out of the top five altogether after her kerplunk. PR tactic? Probably not. An excellent topic for an episode Pageant Place Season 2? Absolutely!

Pageant Place Pitty Party:
Miss Universe would not be Miss Universe without the admiration of young women everywhere. With young women comes… boy bands? No, MTV! What a fantastic melding on traditions. In order to communicate the key messages, and high drama of the Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA organizations, Donald Trump decided to team up with MTV and create Pageant Place. This show documents the lives of the three women who live together in a New York City apartment.

Adding in spicy mixes like former Miss USA Tara Conner, a real pro at winning over the media, this show does the trick for their market – teen queens are now interested in being the “it” girl on Pageant Place. From woe is me attitudes to stuck up diva disasters, Pageant Place offers a real life look at what it takes to walk with a tiara on your head in public. Not likely. This, if anything else proves that someone wasn’t thinking when they decided to air the organizations dirty laundry. I understand that Tara Conner’s rehab mess had to be publicly dealt with, and what better way to show off her new clean edged outlook on life than on MTV. However, the messages communicated on the show leaves teens impressed and all others wondering why the melodrama? I guess they are hitting their target audience, after all, even I watched.

Can Miss Universe hack it?:
Bringing it back to tonight’s Miss Universe pageant, Dayana Mendoza will now become the “it” girl who will replace Riyo Mori, former Miss Universe 2007, in communicating all the ideas Donald Trump wants to showcase for the 2008 pageant season. Problem is, can she do this? In order to not take the heat on bashing a rather gorgeous woman from a foreign country that I would like to visit, I say view her interview for yourself. It is not a language barrier, more a filter that I think she may be missing. Panties? Really! Give this woman some media coaching and frankly I think she will be fine.

The brand identity of Miss Universe seems to change daily – beautiful, speaks well, world appeal, etc. always seems to find itself in the mix. Hopefully this year’s winner doesn’t take too much advice from her in-house companions – they tend to whine or fall their way into the press.

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