June 17, 2005

Allegretto talks about Miss America's future

Staff Writer

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 America contestants.

New Jersey will be represented by Katie Berry of Mt. Laurel, who was selected in a competition at the Music Pier last November.