November 2, 2015

Miss Universe Pageant returning to Las Vegas minus Donald Trump

After a three-year absence, the Miss Universe Pageant is returning to the Las Vegas Strip — but without its most-recognized former owner, real-estate tycoon and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Fox made it official today that the pageant with more than 80 contestants from around the world will be televised live Sunday, Dec. 20, on Fox.
And I can confirm that Miss Universe will be broadcast from Planet Hollywood, where the last Las Vegas-hosted Miss Universe took place in 2012 and was won by Miss USA Olivia Culpo of Rhode Island, who most recently dated singer-songwriter and Las Vegas regular Nick Jonas.
At this moment, there is no word as to whether the other component of The Donald’s one-time beauty pageant empire, the Miss USA Pageant, will return to Las Vegas, but it will air on Fox in 2016.
Until last month, the Miss Universe Organization was a joint venture between NBC and Donald Trump. The company had run the contest since 2002.
After controversial comments made by The Donald about illegal immigrants during his 2016 presidential announcement speech, NBC made worldwide headlines when it canceled all business relationships with the Miss Universe Organization and the billionaire.
He promptly bought out NBC’s 50-percent stake in the organization, making him the company’s sole owner, then three days later sold the pageant to William Morris Endeavor talent agency, the parent company of International Management Group.
The president of the Miss Universe Organization remains Paula Shugart, who has been a staunch supporter of Las Vegas as the home for the pageants since she brought the 2008 Miss USA Pageant to Planet Hollywood and Crystle Stewart of Texas was crowned the winner.
Paula joined the Miss Universe Organization in 1998 and was appointed president by The Donald in 2001. She and I worked together under the Television Program Enterprises umbrella of TV shows that included my series “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” and “Star Search.”
“Planet Hollywood has been a fantastic partner to the Miss Universe Organization, and it will be a great home for the 64th Annual Miss Universe Pageant,” said Paula in a news release. “The resort’s Axis Theater is a premier entertainment venue and the ideal site for the pageant’s inaugural broadcast on a new network.”
“Miss Universe is a unique, global media property, and this partnership with Fox marks a new era for the Miss Universe Organization as a whole,” said Michael Antinoro, IMG’s senior VP of original content. “As the broadcast leader in innovative and groundbreaking live events, Fox is the perfect partner as we look to implement new and exciting changes to this show and the franchise.”
“The Miss Universe and Miss USA Pageants are iconic television events loved by generations of viewers around the world,” said David Madden, president of entertainment at Fox. “We are very excited to partner with IMG and the Miss Universe Organization to infuse a fresh new energy into these perennial broadcast favorites.”
WME is a giant talent agency headquartered in Beverly Hills, Calif. The company was founded in April 2009 after the merger of William Morris Agency and Endeavor Agency.
WME represents artists across all media platforms, specifically movies, television, music, theater, digital and publishing. The company is run by co-CEOs Patrick Whitesell and Ari Emanuel, who is a regular Las Vegas visitor and the brother of former White House chief of staff and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
He is the basis of the character Ari Gold in HBO’s now-defunct series “Entourage” played by Jeremy Piven. His clients include Oprah Winfrey, Charlize Theron, Martin Scorsese and Mark Wahlberg, so expect to see Planet Hollywood play host to celebrities when Miss Universe gets underway — and with resident headliners Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez.
2014 Miss Universe Paulina Vega of Colombia will pass over her title to the new winner at Planet Hollywood on Dec. 20. She was only the second woman from Colombia to win the title in the pageant’s 63-year history; the previous Colombian to capture the title was Luz Marina Zuluaga in 1958.
Singer Shakira and actress Sofia Vergara — both natives of Barranquilla, the same city where Paulina was born and raised — sent their congratulations. The middle child of seven brothers and sisters, she won Miss Colombia in her first attempt.
Our 2014 Miss Nevada USA Nia Sanchez, who went on to become Miss USA and who married Hollywood actor Daniel Booko on Oct. 17, was first runner-up in the 2014 Miss Universe Pageant. Now living in Hollywood, she promises to return to her Las Vegas hometown for the new Miss Universe events.

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