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Robin blogs from Miss America live in Las Vegas

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Headline News' Robin Meade poses with newly-crowned Miss America Kirsten Haglund of Michigan.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Good Monday morning, rock stars!

I got in later than expected from my flight from Vegas... so it won't be my Elmer Fudd voice acting as your alarm clock this morning. Before I finally hit the hay -- I had to give you a 'round up' from the experience of judging Miss America for the last week.

First off -- were you happy with the winner? Miss Michigan Kirsten Haglund is the new Miss America. Get this -- her *grandmother* was Miss Michigan back in the day, too. And she was there to see her granddaughter win the whole thing!

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At the airport in Vegas, I got the feeling the judge is viewed as the "bad guy" post-pageant.

Don't get me wrong -- the contestants are supportive of each other -- I ran into two at the airport. But honey... some of the people *surrounding* the contestants looked like real sour pusses, and couldn't be bothered to hide it. Then, on the plane, Tim ended up by some folks headed home after supporting a Southern contestant. When he revealed his wife was a judge and then pointed me out... you should have seen the daggers! Come on... there can only be one winner!

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Here's a shout-out to an Iraq war veteran and his wife we met in Vegas, and who came to the pageant as our guests.

His name is Joe. Her name is Reagan.

Actually, my hubby met Joe in the hot tub. He wants me to point out he usually doesn't speak to other men in the hot tub at the gym.

Ends up they were staying on the same floor as us at the hotel... and Vegas was a big vacation for them before duty calls him away again. Thank you Joe for the work you do!

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Where else but in Vegas can you do this in one night:

***Judge the Miss America pageant.

***Jump a cab to the Brad Paisley concert.

***Then jump another cab to the opening of a brand new nightclub.

***Walk a press line where photogs say, "How about some teeth over here" and ask, "Whose dress are you wearing tonight?" and you answer, "Mine." (Ha! I really did say that).

***Meet the drummer for The Killers (rock band).

***See Adrien Brody going into the same nightspot as you.

***Give up and go back to the hotel before anyone else in your entourage.

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Where else but Vegas can this happen to you in one week?

*Interview 52 of the most outstanding women in America.

*Have Sly Stallone tell you, "I watch your show every effin' day.

*Have his mother claim the Miss America pageant is rigged because she ended up being runner up to Bess Myerson.

*Go to a spa with other judges only to see a fire breaking out at the Monte Carlo hotel... switch gears and report live from the fire scene.

*Spill a drink on the guitarist from The Killers.

*Finally let loose with the other judges after having to be buttoned up at work all week.

(I hope to be in contact with my fellow judges for a long time to come. They are great peeps! Jackie Joyner-Kersee, I'm talking to you! And the rest of you, too!)

*Do enough work for *two weeks,* but gain enough memories for a lifetime.

Yep, that's Vegas, baby!


Friday, January 25, 2008

I just got in from partying down at one of Planet Hollywood's nightclubs with Sly Stallone! He slipped my hubby Tim and me into his VIP area... and confessed he watches "Morning Express with Robin Meade" with *you* all the time! Cool beans, eh? I have pictures to share with you... but they'll have to wait until Monday because I'm too technically remedial to send them myself. Anyway, it's nice to see Stallone back on the scene with another movie... after the latest Rocky movie.

In pageantdom... all the preliminary competitions are done. Friday is a day off.... then Saturday is the day of the big finals. I hope whomever you see in the finals on TLC reflects what you want in a contemporary Miss America. That's the big buzz in Miss America circles... making their miss "relevant" or the "it girl."

I got a kick looking at the process through the eyes of a few Brits. They are pals of one of the judges, "Sarah"... who is an editor at OK! magazine. They flew in to support her work as a judge and claim they don't have anything quite like this in the UK. They seem to be fascinated by the elements of the competition. They can pub crawl with the best of them... so I suspect they are still out experiencing the strip... long after I gave up and dragged myself back to my room to write this ditty.

The discussion among the female judges is: What to wear Saturday night for the big broadcast of the finals. I say a long gown... seeing as how this is an American tradition. Some of the other female judges say they want to go with a short dress. I say it doesn't matter because the cameras are only going to see us from the chest up. (ya, ya, joke all ya want!)

Well... if you see me in lavendar... you'll know I went with my gown hanging in the closet right now. If it's another color... you'll know I relented and went out and bought another dress.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I feel like the biggest jerk because of some of these "judges rules."

If you and I happen to run into each other in a casino here in Vegas this week... pay no attention if I blow you off and keep walking.

Any other week, I'll chat any viewer up and make you miss your appointments.

You'd be like... dang doesn't that girl have friends?

But while I'm judging, I have to steer clear of folks I know... or viewers who I want to know.

Why, you ask?

Think about it.

Any little blink, smile, nod, wink, handshake, or otherwise breathing in someone's general direction could be interpreted as giving any certain contestant an unfair advantage. Like it's a secret signal saying, "Hey, I like your lady."

Just today, I was with the CNN crew shooting a story about what goes on behind-the-scenes and someone I knew from a state pageant saw me.... stood and watched us work for a second until he caught my eye. I snapped, "I can't talk to you. I can't be around you." His expression was like, "Fine, fine."

And then the other night, another person I recognized yelled my name from the stage simply to wave "hi" at me, but I had to act like I couldn't see who it was simply because other people were watching.

So I've been keeping my eyes down and my stride quick when outside the judging arena... and my face forward toward the stage when it's showtime.

So while I look like I should have the title of miss behavin'... I'm really just miss understood.

Hardee har har!

I have to get to bed. See you!


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I have an inside scoop for you... how do you feel about old people on the Miss America stage? Because that's what you are going to see. Now, before you get visions of granny in a two-piece workin' it on stage... let me explain: The parents of the finalists will be placed on stage where the cameras will get their every expression as their daughter does well or falls flat on her face. Don't laugh! I've seen it happen. Can you imagine?

At the moment, I'm sitting here in the judges' holding chamber before we go out and judge the first night of preliminary competitions. I've been slightly distracted by all the big news stories today including the death of Heath Ledger. What a shame. I'm hoping he wasn't a personal friend of any of the judges -- a few of them have Hollywood backgrounds. I haven't heard any of them say they personally knew him.

As far as judging, I'm getting a reputation as the handslapper when a judge is late or is out of line. Between you and me, I'm concerned about these late West Coast hours and staying sharp thru this process. So far, I have my eye on a few contestants who have impressed me in interviews. But right now, it's showtime here in pageantland. I hope your state rep. does well tonight!


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

There he is, Mr. America.

Barack Obama might want to bank on that young vote. Because if the Miss America contestants are anywhere near representative of the rest of their age group... they think obama has it goin' on.

Seriously.

During the private interviews we did with the contestants today... whenever the subject of presidential candidates came up... it seemed like a majority indicated Obama was getting their attention.

Another observation, superficial as it may be: the young'uns love the posh spice hair cut. Actually the not-as-young'uns do, too. Do you know the haircut I'm describing? The angled from the back, longer in the front... slightly longer on one side bob. It must be this year's version of "The Aniston" from the 90's. I see it everywhere, including on a number of titleholders here. I think Bob oughta give it a try. (Just kidding, Bob. he gets his curmudgeon look going when you tease him.)


Monday, January 21, 2008

I've just been named the head judge! More on that later.

Now. My concern going into this as a judge ... so many years after being here as a contestant is: Will I have the stamina to give each contestant the same attention ... whether she's the 48th person I interview, or the 2nd?

And, will we pick a titleholder who is prepped and ready for the job? (The week after she wins ... she's a guest on news shows, talk shows and meeting with Congress members.)

Adding to the pressure: The Miss America folks have decided I'll be the head judge.

Met the other judges. So far I've confused two of the male judges' names ...told another male judge, "thank you for having us," thinking he was hosting us ... and asked the female fitness trainer if she knew my doctor friend from "Celebrity Fit Club." "I'm on 'The Biggest Loser,'" she replied.

Oops.

I've done my homework on the contestants ... looks like I should have done more on the other judges.

I especially love Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Besides the fact she's a doll ... she watches the show along with YOU!

"What is the best way to make Miss America more relevant to people your age?"

I noticed this was a question each Miss State was asked to answer on her resume. I asked the flight crew on my plane today, "Is Miss America still relevant?" The male flight attendant blurted out, "No." A female flight attendant agreed, saying today's young audiences are more into reality stars than pageant winners. But when I asked them what THEY thought made a good Miss America ... no absence of answers.

The flight attendants chimed in again: someone elegant; someone compassionate. Then the male flight attendant blurted out: "She's gotta have great legs."

Doesn't that pretty much sum up some of the challenges here in choosing the new titleholder?

In an environment where celebs are born out of reality contests to see who can eat the most cockroaches in a sitting, we've been assigned to find a special someone who can be the "it girl" for what I see as all the "classic reasons."

She's got to be elegant enough to fit the description ... quick-witted enough to charm audiences ... smart enough to justify thousands in scholarships ... yet beautiful enough that people don't say incredulously: "THAT'S Miss America?"

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That's the pressure you feel as a judge.

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