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2012 Miss USA: Hopefuls in L.V.; judge named; Hall wins ‘Apprentice’

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Miss California USA 2011 Alyssa Campanella is the winner of the 2011 Miss USA Pageant at Planet Hollywood on June 19, 2011.
Photo: Miss Universe Organization

The glitz and glamour of the 2012 Miss USA Pageant hit the Strip over the weekend, and TV cameras roll for the first time today on the pageant princesses as they start their weeklong promotional trek filming on and off the Strip.

Pageant officials confirmed that Arsenio Hall, who was the winner on Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” on Sunday night, will be a judge at the pageant as his first assignment for The Donald, who owns the Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA events. The remaining judges will be named next week.

In all, there are two weeks of events and festivities leading to the 61st annual pageant Sunday, June 3, at Planet Hollywood’s Theater for the Performing Arts and airing on NBC.

2011 Miss USA: Telecast at Planet Hollywood

The contestants checked in over the weekend at Planet Hollywood, and Miss Nevada Jade Kelsall was the first to register and lead the way. All 51 of the beauties will be here by Wednesday when talk-show titan Jerry Springer, guest hosting at “The Price Is Right Live” at Bally’s, officially welcomes them.

During the ceremony with Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization, and David Hoenemeyer, regional president of Planet Hollywood, reigning Miss America Alyssa Campanella will commemorate her year with a handprint ceremony.

Bravo entertainment chief Andy Cohen and “E! News” anchor Giuliana Rancic return as the show’s hosts, and Kelly Osbourne of E!’s “Fashion Police” and Jeannie Mai of The Style Network’s “How Do I Look?” serve as commentators. Throughout the competition, each contestant representing the 50 states and the District of Columbia competes in swimsuit, evening gown and interview.

Miss USA Alyssa Campanella at the 2011 Miss Universe Pageant

The telecast concludes with redheaded Alyssa, a former Las Vegas model and Miss California, crowning her successor. Observers are predicting that Jade, who is the ambassador for the newly opened Top Shop/Top Man at Fashion Show, will likely be a Top 10 contender. Fans can vote for their favorite contestant into the semifinals right up until June 2 at MissUSA.com and NBC.com.

Here’s Jade’s YouTube video of her “Road to the Crown” and the amazing story of her heart surgery just three weeks before she won Miss Nevada. You can find the stories of her rivals at the Miss USA contestant page.

Miss Nevada Jade Kelsall - from YouTube.com

This morning, half the contestants were at wardrobe fittings and fashion shoots, and the other half took part in a flair bartenders demonstration at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville casino in the Flamingo. I asked them if anybody was a first-time visitor to Las Vegas, and they all said that they’d partied here many times before. “Today, when a girl turns 21, she automatically hits Vegas -- even before going to New York!” one of the contestants told me.

2012 Miss USA at Margaritaville - from YouTube.com

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

Tonight, all 51 contestants will enjoy fine Italian dining by chef Steve Martorano at his Cafe Martorano at the Rio, where Alyssa will sign the celebrity wall. On Tuesday, the contestants hit the Strip when actress Dania Ramirez hosts a Chinese Laundry wedge run, where the contestants take part in a three-legged race for charity. No high heels -- just wedges! Later, Alyssa and the girls have a photo shoot at Sugar Factory American Brasserie at the Paris.

On Wednesday, a surprise celebrity guest will join Alyssa at noon to host the first swimwear fashion show in Kooey swimsuits at the Trump Towers pool. Then it’s the 6 p.m. official welcome by Jerry Springer at Planet Hollywood and the first time the public sees the 51 contestants on the red carpet.

2012 Miss USA Pageant: Margaritaville

On Thursday, the contestants enjoy the sun at the Flamingo pool and participate in a volleyball match at the Beach Club. In the evening, they get a glimpse at the less-risque elements of “Absinthe” at Caesars Palace. It will be interactive to permit the ladies to show off their dancing skills on the small circular stage; I think The Gazillionaire will have a few choice words to say.

Please check back daily for our reports, photos and videos of the Miss USA events leading up to the final competition and the crowning.

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.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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