Forget Rachel Maddow grilling Tom Ridge. If you want to see how to really conduct an interview, go to Guanabee.com. The blog (featuring “Gossip, Pop culture and Media for the Latino in You”) interviewed Miss Universe choreographer Michael Schwandt and he dropped the biggest bombshell since Omarosa announced she was becoming a minister. Sure, they buried the lead but the info is there, quotes and all.
In case you’ve forgotten, the Miss Universe pageant is a joint venture between Donald Trump and NBC Universal. According to choreographer Schwandt, Trump is far from a silent partner. Schwandt says The Donald lines up all the girls for inspection, makes notes and then hand-picks some of the finalists before the pageant even begins.
At all the shows, he pops in the day before the telecast and we line up all the girls in alphabetical order behind microphones. And they say their name, age and country. Then we line them up in alphabetical order in one single file line across the stage. And he basically walks by and has an assistant that takes notes on all the girls. And it’s just kind of common knowledge that he picks six of the top fifteen single-handedly. So, the other nine of the top fifteen are judged in a preliminary show the week before and picked by those judges, but he picks six of the top fifteen.
So, he’s orchestrating at least a portion of the results? Right. And, his reason for doing so, as he told me and he’s told the girls before, is that he left it all up to preliminary judging in the past and some of the most beautiful women, in his opinion, were not in the top fifteen and he was kind of upset about that. And he decided that he would pick a certain number and let the judges pick a certain number.
Now, this year’s pageant has already come and gone. I know, I know, I missed it too…but on August 23rd, Venezuelan Stefania Fernandez was crowned Miss Universe 2009. Here’s the tense, drama-filled moment when the judges’ scores were tallied and the results announced.
Oh, wait. The judges’ scores don’t actually mean much throughout the pageant if Donald Trump has picked some finalists during rehearsals, before any of the beauties have officially batted a lash. And the contestants’ bikini-wearing and high-heel-walking don’t mean as much, either. Hmm. All that leaves me with three very important questions:
1. Will Donald Trump point his finger at the blabbermouth choreographer and say “You’re fired!”?
2. Will this lead to a pomp and pageantry uprising, where Miss Universe contestants follow Miss California Carrie Prejean’s example and sue pageant officials?
3. Could there be a judge’s chair open for Paula Abdul? She’s available, you know, and it might be a good distraction from this whole the-pageant-is-kinda-rigged-by-The-Donald kerfluffle.
Inquiring minds want to know. Meanwhile, I’ll try to forget this new-found knowledge that beauty pageants are skin-shallow and flawed and really just about the beauty part. I’ll try to piece back together the shattered shards of my Miss Universe illusions but, to be honest, I may never look at sequins quite the same again.