The parallels between this pageant and some past pageants were quite eerie. We all remember when in Miss Teen USA 96, that Missouri won the semifinal competition as in Miss USA 2001. Both contestants, namely Larissa Meek and Leah Sexton, wore stunning silver gowns and then it came to the round of judge's questions and suddenly both fell to 5th place and the result in both pageants was Texas easing its way to the crown at the end. Also, when India won Miss Universe 1994, Texas won Miss USA, the year after, and of course that winner, Chelsi Smith became Miss Universe 1995. History repeats itself, as India won the Miss Universe crown in the year 2000, and Texas wins Miss USA again the year after. Is this a good luck sign for Kandace Krueger? Or have I jinxed it now that I've mentioned it??

Wasn't this the 50th anniversary?? Where were the tributes to all the past Miss USAs and what about the 7 that won Miss Universe? All we got to see what a 5 second glimpse of former Miss USAs sitting in audience. You only get one 50th anniversary and it was just a total travesty to not even acknowledge the former titleholders that bothered to come. They could at least have said their names while they were sitting in the audience as they did in Miss Universe 93. I wonder if we will ever see these ladies again at Miss USA, like Charlotte Sheffield or even Lu Parker. And where was Ali Landry? You couldn't pull her away from pageants only last year and suddenly she decides not to even participate. Well, I guess I can't blame her. She would have been stiffed anyway and what they did to the titleholders that actually came was in extremely poor taste. Nostalgia used to be such a huge part of pageants and it still is a big part of awards shows (like the Oscars and Grammys) but this new regime seems to want to wipe out the former queens from our memory for some strange reason. The recent 75th Miss America pageant did an excellent job of highlighting some of the controversies of past pageants and showcasing some of the titleholders as well so why not Miss USA? Let's just hope and pray that this kind of nonsense doesn't continue for the 50th Miss Universe pageant coming up on May 11!

At the start of the pageant, we saw the girls undergo some heavy-duty training for the competition and then we were introduced to the host, Star Trek's William "Captain Kirk" Shatner who was a great host. His experience as a pageant host in the movie "Miss Congeniality" really paid off. He was funny and he seemed dedicated to doing a good job and I commend him for that.

As for the little musical numbers by Evan & Jaron (a last minute substitute for Sisqo, who dropped out of the pageant) and the Warren Brothers, they actually made me want to change the channel. Wasn't the idea to boost ratings?! And how are you supposed to boost ratings when a big event is on a Friday night?? Not many people stay home on Friday night. I remember when the 1998 pageants were shown during good time slots on WEEKDAYS and everybody was talking about them the next day. Friday and Saturdays are not acceptable time slots for a pageant. What is CBS doing to these pageants?? Lara Fabian was good but not necessary, and they could have used that time to do some sort of commemorative activity for the 50th anniversary.

Then we were introduced to the delegates to the song "You Are" by Leann Rimes. You may be poetry in motion but it's too bad 3/4 of you couldn't have the chance recite any poetry since you weren't allowed to speak. This opening segment reminded me of the beginning of some show like 90210.

As for the top 10, it was very well chosen. Some previous year's had some fairly nonsensical choices for semifinalists but this year, the preliminary judges did a good job. It's amazing how there always seems to be a surprise in the semifinals and, this year, Oregon was that surprise.



Winner=Texas-Kandace Krueger

Winner=Missouri-Larissa Meek *

1st RU=District of Columbia-Liane Angus

1st RU=Tennessee-Lisa Gayle Tollett *

2nd RU=Georgia-Tiffany Fallon

2nd RU=District of Columbia-Liane Angus *



4. Nevada-Gina Giacinto

Michigan-Kenya Howard *

5. Missouri-Larissa Meek

California-Jennifer Glover



6. Tennessee-Lisa Gayle Tollett

New Jersey-Jeannette Josue

7. Michigan-Kenya Howard

Hawaii-Christy Leonard

8. Oklahoma-Cortney Amaretta Phillips

Utah-Tiffany Seaman

9. Rhode Island-Yanaiza Alvarez

Texas-Kandace Krueger *

10. Oregon-Endia Li Abrante

Nevada-Gina Giacinto *


ALTERNATES: Alabama, Georgia*, Indiana, North Dakota, Oklahoma*

* = made actual top ten


As you can see, I got 6 out of 10 semifinalists plus 2 alternates. Rhode Island did well in my rankings but I thought her gown choice was going to hurt her chances. It was interesting to see Rhode Island in the top ten since that was the state that won the Miss United States pageant in the movie "Miss Congeniality." As for some of the other delegates, California definitely stood out the entire night whenever she stood in the background. She reminded of Anke van Dermeersch, Miss Belgium 1992. She was beautiful in a dangerous way and she had a very unique gown and style. I thought she would stand out but alas, it was not meant to be. Also interesting to note was that Lara Dutta, Miss Universe 2000, was our backstage commentator. At first, when I heard this woman with a British accent, it felt like I was watching Miss World. I was pleased to see the queen of the universe acting as an overseer.

One plus that this pageant did have were the humorous interludes and there were some great one liners in the pageant. William Shatner had statements like "we went to the hottest place in town--the steel mill" and "you have to stand at an angle to look slimmer to the judges." His delivery was great. Also great were our co-hosts Tommy Davidson and Vanessa Minnillo (Miss Teen USA 98). Vanessa was very in control and Tommy could be obnoxious at times, as all us Tommys are, but he still did a great job. I remember him from "In Living Color," and although he didn't quite rise to the ranks of Jim Carrey or the Wayans Bros., he's still a very funny guy. Some of my fave moments were his act as "Miss Sore Loser" who put on a face in front of Vanessa to say that s/he wasn't upset about not making the top ten because (cliché alert) it's not about winning, it's about having fun. Instantly, I thought of Miss Alaska Teen 95's triptake. The little pageant emergency kit sketch was funny with the needle/thread, the hemorrhoid cream, and the adhesive spray. Marena Bencomo, Miss Venezuela 97, forgot her adhesive spray. His 3 pageant victory reactions were hilarious! There was the "I knew I was going to win" face, the "I can't believe they picked a geek like me" face and the "I hope I don't pee in my gown" face.

Now on to the long swimsuit competition we've ever had in history. I actually didn't think it was such a bad idea to have one delegate in swimsuit and then have little comical interludes in between. I also loved the background videos in the steel mill. The sex appeal of this year's swimsuit competition heightened significantly and the lighting flattered the delegates' bodies much more than last year. Oklahoma was first and looked great in swimsuit. Tennessee was next. As always, I am very partial to Tennessee because I am always impressed with their delegates and Lisa looked stunning. Her body was fantastic. She also looks like a friend of mine from university, which is why I like her even more. Incidentally enough, she has a twin! Wouldn't it be cool if Lori entered next year? Next was Georgia and this girl definitely knows how to get noticed. She worked it on the stage. Rhode Island looked fair in swimsuit. Her chest certainly jiggled with every step and she has lovely hair. Her walk could have used a little work though. Nevada was coached very well. She refused to abandon her pageant walk for the competition and it paid off. She was fit and she went into "the stance" beautifully. Next was Oregon, and the fact that she made the top 10 raises an interesting question about what we are judging in the swimsuit competition. Is it fitness? Perhaps it isn't, otherwise muscle-bound Endia would have taken this competition but what we really are judging is how a body fits a certain ideal form. Tone is good, as is built, but Endia was so built that her body looked masculine which is one of the reasons why I didn't rank her very high. District of Columbia is one of the examples of when swimsuit is won from the neck up. Her body was very nice but it was her glowing smile that just captures you. Liane just has a natural style about her that is confident but nonchalant simultaneously. Next was our golden Miss USA, Texas' Kandace Krueger, who was also very built but I think she would have looked better with her hair loose instead of in that loop hairstyle. Michigan has a great set of abs and an excellent stance. I thought she competed very well. Finally, Missouri won the swimsuit competition. She had that youthful innocence combined with a good stance, tone body, and nice hair.

More humorous episodes in the pageant included Jay Alexander teaching the delegates how to walk. Arizona confessed that she thought walking was easy just one foot in front of the other but it's actually the other way around! Oklahoma said that Jay was very "conservative," and at times, he may have overdone his "conservativeness" and of course who could forget, "If it's not 100%, I'll accept 45!" That was too hilarious! The little side-competitions were fun too, including the pie eating competition, slam-dunk (Nevada--"yeah!"), and the arm wrestle paired up with highly contrasting built Oregon vs. ultra thin North Dakota.

Next was the gown competition. I like the pageant when it gets like a high-class fashion show like the opening number for Miss USA 97 so I actually liked this really upbeat evening gown competition. Oklahoma's white gown that flared at the bottom looked lovely. She could move nicely in it and she went into the "attitude" at times, which I actually liked. Tennessee followed in a turquoise gown that was all bunched in the center. As gorgeous as Lisa is, she probably should have gone with a better gown. That gown looked too stiff for the music so it was kind of uncomfortable watching. Next was Georgia creating magic in this competition. Her presentation in gown was just dynamic! She started off pulling up the dress and opening the slit on the side and took full control and then walked excellently to the music. She totally had that sensuous salsa instructor look going on. I just love watching Tiffany over and over during this competition. Rhode Island followed and I thought this gown choice was going to hurt her but she did make it to the top ten. Her hair was nice but the gown was, again, too stiff to walk to this fast music. She could have made a better gown choice. Nevada looked much better live than in her pictures and, again, she refuses to abandon her pageant walk for the music. She walked slow and elegantly in spite of the fast music. Next was Oregon and I heard too many comments on this gown and many of them would be just mean to post here. I think Endia was going for a royal look with the purple and gold but it didn't work. I did like her presentation and how she walked to the music but this gown just wasn't right for her and she got a staggeringly low score of 8.49. DC followed with a gorgeous black gown with the flared bottom, similar to Tiara Christen Dews at Teen 2000, who I believe was sitting in the audience cheering on Liane. Liane was lovely. Texas followed with a gown that had a nice shape but seemed somewhat stiff which is probably why she was also one that refused to abandon the pageant walk for the model walk. Michigan's lovely black cuff-neck gown was a very nice choice. It was classy and she just exudes a certain warmth. And finally, Missouri looked stunning in silver. I've always loved these metallic gowns and I wish we would see more of them but the opinions of them seem to fluctuate from year to year. Silver gowns were rewarded highly in 94 but were punished in 95, then rewarded in 96 and Larissa brought us the silver comeback gown. I like how she stood with one leg out when her score was showing on the screen. It looked very modelish.

The little mock grill session was funny with the delegates testing each other on irrelevant questions like atomic weight of Argon. Florida asked Georgia what her favorite food was, she looks under her sash and replies "Pizza!" Illinois is such a sweetheart and desperately tried to ask Utah, who was loudly blow drying her hair what the biggest problem facing the country is today. Utah was humorously pretending not to hear her correctly and she probably could have answered "Vanity" to that question. Next, Tommy sang a little tribute to the delegates not in the top 5 uttering that they were "winners no matter what." I think the look on Oregon's face said it all, "Okay, Endia, just keep smiling, just keep smiling." Michigan seemed to have a lot of fun with it though. I thought this little segment was pushing the line a bit since it seemed to be more like throwing it in their faces that they didn't make the final cut. Next were the Warren Brothers and Tommy said that they were "bad." Bad was the right word.

Now the top 5 had to face the judge's. What happened to Missouri in this round is a perfect example of why bringing back the judge's questions was a step backward instead of having one on one interviews. But of course, since we had high-profile judges like Martha Stewart and Daniel Baldwin, they had to be given speaking roles. Oh, Heaven forbid that we let some of the delegates talk! First was Nevada who was asked by Ananda Lewis is she used her looks to avoid getting her ticket. Nevada confessed that she once blamed it on a sneeze and it worked. She believes that money buys justice for the entertainment industry but that we need to hold them to high standards, which oddly enough led right into the next question. "Are celebrities at an advantage in the courtroom." Nevada replied that they are at an advantage and that's not fair. Gina's performance was fairly good but had she elaborated on her answers more, she might have made the top 3. Next was Missouri picking the judge Daniel Baldwin. I didn't like the way he said "Good luck" to her, it almost sounded sarcastic. Then he asked that question, "Is the media's need for controversy bad for sports?" Larissa asked him to identify a particular sport but Daniel simply repeated the question. Larissa then tried to answer the question and said that there is a "controversy with sports as being role models...and holding them to the high standards that they are...I think the media...shouldn't..." She paused and instantly I had flashbacks of other judge's questions tragedies like Dawn Renee Huey, Angelique de Maison, Kimmarie Johnson, Verna Vasquez, etc. but she tried to answer the question, caught herself repeating Nevada's "high standards" statement and realized that couldn't find a way out to conjure up a decent answer from what she was saying so Daniel Baldwin went on to ask her what female athlete she admired. She then confessed that she couldn't do that because she was an artist and not a follower of sports. I think she would have been able to name someone but she was probably so choked up at what had just happened to her that she just decided to let it go. This was unfortunate because everyone knew how she wanted it and she dominated at her extremely competitive state pageant speaking of things that people had to look up when they got home. Larissa seemed a little embarrassed and turned away slightly from the audience and the judge's gave her a very disappointing score of 8.025. My blood was boiling. Neither the judges nor the majority of the country have any idea of how bright Larissa is and it was really because of a poorly phrased question. I had no idea what that sports controversy question was referring to either. Was it drug use, the XFL, etc?? If there were still one on one interviews, the Miss USA crown would have been hers. Now, we move along to Texas who was asked by Doris Roberts if there is an inherent friction between mothers and daughters. Kandace stated that there have been frictions but that they get along and she rooting for her. She had to admit to her mother that she was wrong about speeding but she confessed on national TV before her mom knew that she got 3 speeding tickets in the last year. Finally, she did a humorous impression of her mother--that look of anger in her eyes. It was funny and certainly lifted the mood. DC was asked by Ernie Hudson if rigorous testing is needed to improve the educational system. Liane agreed and said that when you are challenged, you tend to rise up to meet that challenge. She was then asked was she wasn't taught in school that she wish she had been taught. Ironically, she slowly stated, "How to speak slowly." Then she picked up the pace and explained that she sometimes speaks very fast and needs to work on her articulation. Her favorite teacher was her piano teacher and she said that learning the piano changed her life and gave her discipline. DC did quite well and she has such an infectious smile. Georgia followed and picked Martha Stewart. She screamed, "Mom, it's Martha!" Martha was in a serious mode though and asked if we confuse celebrity with achievement. Tiffany said that we can combine both but instead of looking for role models among celebrities, families should have role models within them. She was asked if the media was to blame for winning at all costs and she believed that it was getting that way and humorously stated, "I hope it's not like this with the pageant!" Georgia emerged at the end to win the round of judge's questions. Did you notice the repetitions throughout the competition? Nevada talks about high standards, then Missouri talks about high standards. Nevada talks about speeding tickets then Texas talks about speeding tickets. Missouri talks about role models then Georgia talks about role models.


Afterwards followed Tommy's "victory scream" and the Miss Congeniality sketches including Connecticut stating that Wisconsin had nothing in her teeth. Kentucky was pushing Iowa to lift weights and said that she knew she could do it. Then, Louisiana told Texas to break a leg and then brought out a voodoo doll and stuck a pin in its leg viciously uttering, "I mean really break a leg!" That was too funny and that little voodoo trick may have worked slightly because Kandace did trip a bit on her gown during her top 3 walk. North Carolina was the winner of Miss Congeniality for this pageant and she does look congenial while Maryland won the Clairol Herbal Essences Style/Best Hair award. Colorado won Miss Photogenic. Martha Stewart's crown substitute was also funny with potpourri, lobster forks, and a few bay leaves.

The final question asked to the final 3 was, "Many things that were once science fiction are now science fact. Scientists believe that we can clone human beings. Should we?" All 3 said no. DC said that the ability to clone is a marvel but that this pushes limits. She agrees with cloning of organs but not of humans. Texas firmly stated that we should not clone humans because "All things happen for a reason" like the death of a child and some people may want to clone that lost child. She said she read about it in the news and that it is a boundary that we should not cross. Georgia stated that it was totally unethical and going beyond limits that we should even step into. Then, she concluded with concentrating on being one and not worrying about so many others. Of these 3 answers, Texas' sounded the most informed, especially since she included that she read about cloning in the news whereas Georgia sounded like she learned about cloning from a science fiction movie.

Finally, we all were blessed with the opportunity to gaze upon the heavenly goddess of beauty, Lynnette Cole, Miss USA 2000 who totally outshined all the other delegates with her radiant beauty. Her new hairstyle was lovely. I read that she doesn't plan on going into the entertainment industry but whatever she does, I hope Lynnette has an extremely successful life. She is just a phenomenal woman.

At the end, Georgia was announced as the 2nd runner up and as DC and Texas were sharing a conversation, it was abruptly interrupted as Shatner announced that DC was 1st runner up and that Texas won its 8th Miss USA crown allowing them to maintain their stranglehold on having the most Miss USAs. Kandace eased her way to the crown with her consistent performance. It did seem like a righteous payback to Texas since they were denied entry into semifinals for 1999 and 2000, which was highly unusual, especially since Kandace competed in those Miss Texas USA pageants so the timing for her to win Miss Texas was perfect. It's all in the hands of fate but Texas is back and is on top once again.