Five ways the Miss America pageant can save itself
The 56-year-old telecast lost yet another network home Monday when TLC announced it would no longer carry it. This after being dumped by the broadcast networks and, for shame, country music network CMT.
Despite a rare increase in viewership -- this year's ceremony in January drew 4.5 million viewers, up from 2009's 3.5 million -- it seems TLC would rather stick with Kate Gosselin, little chocolatiers and families of unusual size, rather than the country's most upstanding, prim and proper ladies. Even if they're wearing bathing suits!
At this rate, one has to wonder if even women's networks like Oxygen and WE will care to take on the well-worn pageant at a reduced price. Perhaps the event could help itself by being open to a makeover. A few suggestions we think could work:
Three words: "Miss America Rehab." The world doesn't want tears of joy. They want tears from misery, accompanied by screaming, falling off the wagon and group therapy with Dr. Drew.
Let Bravo overhaul it with some "Housewives." You haven't really lived until you've married rich, slipped into some form-fitting sweats, flipped some restaurant tables, unveiled wall-sized self-portraits of yourself and talked smack about your gold-digging best girlfriends. The women who claw and scratch their way to the top make for the best TV. Catfight for the crown!
The "Jersey Shore" edition. A no-brainer. Lose "America" from the title and localize. Imagine the evening gown looks of Snooki, J-WOWW, and Sammie. How big could the poof get? Miss Newark, Miss Wildwood and Miss Red Bank...here we come.
Take a page from "Spartacus" and do it on pay cable. You probably don't know this -- yet -- but Starz's "300"-style update of the gladiator tale is doing pretty darn well (for, you know, Starz.) Viewers who couldn't even tell you what Starz is have sought out the channel to watch the show's plentiful blood splatter, sex, and extra-ripe dialogue. So why not do "Miss America" with a blood-and-guts spin? Last woman alive wins!
"Miss American Idol." Viewers vote. When it's a battle between states, Hawaii always wins by default -- See: Jasmine Trias making the "American Idol" Top 3 -- so the other 49 states will have to get their acts together to see their girls stand a chance.What other alternatives could work? Would a 3-D version be too much... or just right?
-- Denise Martin
Photos: Left, Miss America 2009 Katie Stam crowns Caressa Cameron, Miss Virginia, the new Miss America during the 2010 Miss America Pageant at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas on Jan. 30. Credit: Ethan Miller / Getty Images for Planet Hollywood. Right, Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi arrives at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Jan. 31. Chris Pizzello / Associated Press