June 17, 2005
Allegretto talks about Miss America's future
By TOM WILLIAMS
Saturday night a new Miss New Jersey will be chosen on the Music Pier stage.
Like her predecessors, she will make appearances throughout the Garden
State for a year and represent the state at the Miss America Pageant in...well,
whenever it ends up being held.
As it stands now, Miss America cannot get a date. The nationally-televised
finals, seen on network television for more than 50 years, will not be seen on a
traditional network this year. The pageant has also not yet reserved any time in
the Boardwalk Hall, it's home for decades.
In the meantime, Miss America officials are shopping around new ideas for its
televised affairs to a variety of cable networks and syndicators.
"We're proceeding just as we normally would," said Mike Allegretto, executive
director of the Miss New Jersey Pageant. "I know there will be a Miss America
Pageant. We have a contract that says so. At this point, we just don?t know for
sure if it will be televised."
Miss America's TV ratings have steadily declined, despite a number of
changes and gimmicks. Among the ideas being discussed this year is turning
the pageant into a multi-night TV production with lots of candid interviews,
trying to cash in on the "reality" fad.
"We (pageant volunteers) really don't know much more than what we read in
the newspapers," said Allegretto. "I'm 90 percent sure it (Miss America) will be
held in Atlantic City and I'm guessing it will be pushed back to October, but
that's just my opinion."
The current Miss America, Deidre Downs, was quoted at a recent appearance
in Alabama as saying she expects the next Miss America Pageant to be held
"between December 1st and January 31st".
Has all of this created any confusion or lack of confidence among the 26
women competing to be Miss New Jersey? "Not at all," Allegretto said. "They
are all focused on becoming Miss New Jersey and we are all focused on
making it a great week for them."
One thing Allegretto is sure about is the new Miss America's Outstanding Teen
competition, which will be held for the first time from August 17-20 in Orlando,
FL. It is for teens between 13 and 17, the ages just preceding the age of Miss
New Jersey will be represented by Katie Berry of Mt. Laurel, who was selected
in a competition at the Music Pier last November.