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Miss USA making a difference

by jmaloni
Sat, Jun 18th 2011 03:10 am

Behind the Screens with Joshua Maloni

Sure, there's big hair, high heels, swimsuits and evening gowns. But, nowadays, the Miss USA Pageant is giving equal weight to brains and beauty.

The current Miss USA, Rima Fakih, crisscrossed the globe over the past year spreading cultural tolerance. Her successor, to be crowned Sunday, will serve as an advocate for breast and ovarian cancer research.

"Well I think it's a great opportunity," pageant host Any Cohen says. "You know, with Rima that was certainly a different Miss USA. She's the first Arab American and first Muslim to be crowned Miss USA, which was really exciting. And I think that, you know, as the pageant gets more modern, I think it's an opportunity for the women to have platforms to say things that maybe aren't as traditional as they have been in the past.

"And so I'm looking forward to seeing, you know, meeting the women and hearing what they have to say and what they stand for, and what they are about, and what they would use their year as Miss USA to represent and stand for.

"I haven't met them yet to know. But I certainly think it's a great opportunity, you know, to say something and represent something and put something out there that is different and challenging. And hopefully the judges, you know, will agree with me and they will kind of embrace something modern and new."

The 2011 Miss USA Pageant airs Sunday, June 19, live from the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas beginning at 9 pm on NBC. Cohen, who hosts Bravo's "Watch What Happens: Live," will emcee alongside E! News anchor Giuliana Rancic.

This year's judges include Dallas Mavericks center Tyson Chandler, celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito, actress Mariel Hemingway, Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller, rapper Lil Jon, "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" star Caroline Manzo and OPI Products co-founder Suzi Weiss-Fischmann.

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