[Country Music Television], in partnership with the Miss America Organization, has jettisoned a casual-wear competition that was added in recent years, as well as a multiple-choice civics quiz that had pitted five finalists against one another on a "Jeopardy"-style set pumped with an ominous soundtrack seemingly borrowed from "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."...This is a nice demonstration of the value of cable TV over the big networks.
[V]iewers will see what CMT intends as a more genteel, glamorous competition...
In place of the stiff blue jeans and halter tops that made some onstage segments last year seem like a debutante's bad idea of casual Friday, CMT will emphasize evening wear, with sashes bearing state names - little seen in recent years - again draped prominently across the contestants' long gowns throughout the night so viewers can better chart their progress. Also returning in January - for the first time since 1974 - will be Miss Congeniality, an honor bestowed on one of the 52 contestants (representing the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands) by her peers.
And instead of reducing the talent competition to a montage of edited highlights of the final 10 contestants engaged in baton-twirling, jazz-dancing and furious classical piano playing - as ABC did in recent years - CMT will present full-length performances of the final five contestants. ...
Though the decline in interest in such pageants parallels the dramatic changes in women's lives and careers in recent decades, [Paul Villadolid, vice president of programming and development at CMT] nonetheless saw relevance. The women in their 20's who compete to become Miss America - nearly all of them college-bound and most from small towns - are not unlike those who form the foundation of the CMT audience.
December 22, 2005
Posted by Ann Althouse at 10:22 AM