Posted at 4:33 p.m. 6/3/12; updated at 2:08 a.m. 6/4/12
SPOILER ALERT: We’ll use Twitter (@robin_leach) and our live blog to report the 2012 Miss USA Pageant from start to finish, keeping pace with the live telecast for East Coast primetime viewing. If you live in Pacific Time (Las Vegas) and don’t want to know details in advance of the tape-delayed broadcast, please don’t read any further.
The excitement for the 61st Annual Miss USA Pageant this evening on NBC from Planet Hollywood’s Theater for the Performing Arts is getting more intense as the final minutes tick before curtain up.
Co-host Giuliana Rancic from E! News told me: “It’s going to be the best show ever. What we’ve seen and run through during rehearsals is a total blast. I am so excited, and Miss USA chief Paula Shugart told me that it’s the most creative, challenging and competitive she’s seen in the past 13 years.”
The two-hour broadcast will kick off with all 51 contestants taking part in a four-way Sherri Hill fashion show on a runway that’s been built out from the stage into the TPA. Pyrotechnic flames will blast as the glamour girls parade down a staircase onto the runway.
This also will be the first year that viewers will be able to use Twitter to submit the dreaded closing question for one of the final five contestants vying for the crown. Fan voting also will determine one additional viewer’s choice contestant with the 15 semifinalists.
Kelly Osbourne and Style Network’s Jeannie Mai from “How Do I Look” will serve as roving fashion police correspondents throughout this “ultimate war of beauty, bodies, hair and makeup” hosted by Giuliana and Bravo TV personality Andy Cohen. Akon and Cobra Starship are the scheduled performers.
Andy used his Las Vegas visit to launch his memoir “Most Talkative: Stories From the Front Lines of Pop Culture” with a book signing for more than 200 fans at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on Friday night. His friend and fellow Bravo celebrity Vicki Gunvalson of “The Real Housewives of Orange County” made a surprise appearance, and Cosmopolitan President John Unwin also was on hand. Afterward, Andy and his parents dined at Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill.
Voted “Most Talkative” by his high school classmates, Andy’s book takes readers behind-the-scenes to tell the story of his rise from a TV-adoring kid to an Emmy Award-winning executive and producer of some of Bravo’s top-rated shows, including “Top Chef,” “The Real Housewives” franchise and “Project Runway,” as well as host of “Watch What Happens Live.”
The 2012 Miss USA Pageant judges are chef Cat Cora; former “The Bachelorette” star Ali Fedotowsky, host of NBC’s “First Look”; Arsenio Hall, who just won “Celebrity Apprentice”; actress and bestselling author Marilu Henner; Grammy-nominated music star Joe Jonas; reality TV star Rob Kardashian; “Fashion Police” co-host George Kotsiopoulos; and Dayana Mendoza, Miss Universe 2008.
Here in Las Vegas, all eyes will be on our 2012 Miss Nevada USA Jade Kelsall, who has sewn her great-grandmother’s rosary into her gown for good luck. Her mother, brother, cousins and grandfather have all flown here from her former New Jersey home to root for her in the pageant.
Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants owner Donald Trump kicks off the red-carpet festivities before the show. He’ll escort last year’s winner, California’s Alyssa Campanella, who ends her reign tonight, along with Miss Universe 2011 Leila Lopes of Angola and Miss Teen USA 2011 Danielle Doty of Texas.
Check back for our red-carpet coverage and live blog when the pageant begins at 6 p.m. PT.
6 p.m.: It’s a day at the races for the 51 contestants of the 2012 Miss USA Pageant. Big hats and light and bright summer colors. Then a night out in shorter, sexier fashions. All on a catwalk with front-row “fashionistas.” Next up: high-glam rock-star style. The next group reveals its champagne collections. Finally, the debutante collection -- the belles of the ball. Five fashion collections by Sherri Hill.
6:07 p.m.: Co-hosts Andy Cohen and Giuliana Rancic are introduced, Cohen in a tuxedo and Rancic in a white gown. The women compete in three categories: swimsuits, evening gowns and interviews. One question comes from Twitter at #askmissusa. Fashion police Kelly Osbourne and Jeannie Mai are introduced.
6:14 p.m.: 2011 Miss USA Alyssa Campanella, aka “Poison Ivy,” according to Cohen, is introduced. Now The Elite 16. Miss Tennessee USA Jessica Hibler. Miss Alabama USA Katherine Webb. Miss Ohio USA Audrey Bolte. Miss Michigan USA Kristen Danyal. Miss Maryland USA Nana Meriwether. Miss New Jersey USA Michelle Leonardo. Miss Texas USA Brittany Booker. Miss Colorado USA Marybel Gonzalez. Miss Oklahoma USA Lauren Taylor Lundeen. Miss Louisiana USA Erin Edmiston. Miss Maine USA Rani Williamson.
Down to five more. Miss Georgia USA Jazz Wilkins. Miss South Carolina USA Erika Powell. It’s her 27th birthday tonight. Miss Rhode Island USA Olivia Culpo. Only two more. Miss Nevada USA Jade Kelsall. The final spot chosen by TV viewers is Miss Arkansas USA Kelsey Dow.
6:22 p.m.: Next up: Cobra Starship and the swimsuit competition.
6:26 p.m.: The judges are introduced: Marilu Henner, Arsenio Hall, Ali Fedotowsky, Rob Kardashian, Dayana Mendoza, Joe Jonas, Cat Cora and George Kotsiopoulos. Now primetime love for Las Vegas. Mandalay Bay. What the contestants have loved about Las Vegas. Osbourne botches Cobra Starship’s name as she interviews frontman Gabe Saporta.
6:33 p.m.: Rancic is in a black lace gown now. Swimsuits are from Kooey Australia. Cobra Starship sings “You Make Me Feel.” Miss Tennessee USA is in a purple print bikini. Miss Alabama USA a light blue bikini. Miss Ohio USA in a light blue bikini, as well. Miss Michigan USA in a lilac bikini. Miss Maryland USA in a light blue bikini, also working her sash. Miss New Jersey USA in a lilac bikini. Miss Texas USA in a light blue bikini. Miss Colorado USA in a light blue bikini; the top is a print.
6:39 p.m.: Cobra Starship starts singing their new song “One Night.” Miss Oklahoma USA, the only one with bangs, is in a light blue bikini with print top. Miss Louisiana USA in the lilac bikini. Miss Maine USA in a purple print bikini. She’s been a vegetarian since age 9. Miss Georgia USA in a purple bikini bottom and pink solid top. Miss South Carolina USA in a blue print bikini top. Miss Rhode Island USA in a lilac bikini. Miss Nevada USA in an orange bikini. Miss Arkansas USA in a light blue bikini. Shoes are by Chinese Laundry.
6:44 p.m.: Up next: the Top 10.
6:49 p.m.: Miss Congeniality goes to Miss Iowa USA Rebecca Hodge, and Miss Photogenic goes to Miss Oregon USA Alaina Bergsma. Now the Top 10. Miss Alabama USA Katherine Webb. Miss Oklahoma USA Lauren Taylor Lundeen. Miss Ohio USA Audrey Bolte. Miss Georgia USA Jazz Wilkins. Miss Texas USA Brittany Booker. Miss Colorado USA Marybel Gonzalez. Miss New Jersey USA Michelle Leonardo. Miss Maryland USA Nana Meriwether. Miss Rhode Island USA Olivia Culpo. And … Miss Nevada USA Jade Kelsall!
6:53 p.m.: Osbourne receives red-carpet tips backstage. How to stand and pose. Up next: evening gowns. The pageant pays tribute to longtime host Dick Clark.
6:59 p.m.: Videos of the Top 10 are played. Miss Alabama USA is a very happy person in general. Miss Oklahoma USA says to be comfortable in your own body. Miss Ohio USA loves the USA and works hard. Miss George USA loves video games. Miss Texas USA is inspired by her grandmother. Miss Colorado USA loves horseback riding. Miss New Jersey USA loves dancing. Miss Maryland USA is a top-notch volleyball player. Miss Rhode Island USA is an Audrey Hepburn fanatic. Miss Nevada USA talks about her heart surgery shortly before the Miss Nevada USA Pageant.
7:03 p.m.: Garden of the Gods is the theme of this year’s evening gowns; their photo shoot was at Garden of the Gods at Caesars Palace. Photography by Fadil Berisha. Miss Alabama USA is sparkling in jewels and a sheer underlay. Miss Oklahoma USA is “like a party bowl of confetti.” Miss Ohio USA dons canary yellow with a train. Miss Georgia USA is in white with dangerously low and high slits. Miss Texas USA wears sparkling blue. Miss Colorado USA is the sexy lady in red. Miss New Jersey USA is in white silk jersey with a jeweled waist. Miss Maryland USA also dons white. Miss Rhode Island USA looks like a princess in purple. And Miss Nevada USA also chooses white with a gold waist and a unique necklace.
7:11 p.m.: Next up: the Top Five.
7:15 p.m.: The Top Five: Miss Georgia USA Jazz Wilkins. Miss Nevada USA Jade Kelsall. Miss Rhode Island USA Olivia Culp. Miss Maryland USA Nana Meriwether. And Miss Ohio USA Audrey Bolte.
7:17 p.m.: Miss Georgia USA talks with Cohen about nearly being bitten by a shark. Miss Nevada USA talks about Muhammad Ali’s 70th birthday party. Miss Rhode Island USA talks about music in education. “Band camp was my summer!” Miss Maryland USA admires Angelina Jolie and her global awareness. Miss Ohio USA says the nickname for her gown is “school bus.” Her college was a nine-hour drive from home.
7:29 p.m.: It’s the dreaded final questions: 30 seconds to answer. Miss Georgia USA is asked a question by Cat Cora about the mayor of New York City banning big sugary drinks. She supports it. Miss Nevada USA is asked a question by Arsenio Hall about the vice president and why contestants don’t know his name. Miss Rhode Island USA is asked the question from Twitter! She is OK with a transgender winner. “It’s a free country.” Miss Maryland USA is asked a question by Joe Jonas about “Toddlers and Tiaras.” Despite the stereotypes, contestants persevere and are strong, she says. Miss Ohio USA is asked about Marilu Henner about how women are portrayed in Hollywood. She says that it depends on the film. She loves “Pretty Woman.”
7:35 p.m.: It’s now moments away from announcing the winner. Osbourne interviews “naughty boy” Akon backstage.
7:43 p.m.: It’s one last look at the Top Five contestants to Akon’s new single “America’s Most Wanted.” The contestants walk down stairs and are escorted to the stage by Akon.
7:52 p.m.: It’s the final walk by 2011 Miss USA Alyssa Campanella in a champagne and pink gown.
7:55 p.m.: The fourth runner-up is Miss Georgia USA Jazz Wilkins. The third runner-up is Miss Nevada USA Jade Kelsall. The second runner-up is Miss Ohio USA Audrey Bolte. The first runner-up is Miss Maryland USA Nana Meriwether. And the 2012 Miss USA is Miss Rhode Island USA Olivia Culpo.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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