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Miss USA pageant gets a new TV home after Donald Trump scandal

2015-07-03 20:00


Los Angeles — The Miss USA pageant, left without a TV home following blowback against co-owner Donald Trump over his comments on Mexican immigrants, has been rescued by the Reelz channel.

Reelz CEO Stan E. Hubbard said in a statement Thursday that the cable and satellite channel acquired the rights because of a belief that the pageant and the women who compete in it "are an integral part of American tradition."

"As one of only a few independent networks, we decided to exercise our own voice and committed ourselves to bringing this pageant to American viewers everywhere," Hubbard said.

While Reelz, which reaches 70 million homes, said it considered the interests of Miss USA contestants, the host city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and viewers in making its decision, it made no mention of Trump or the hot water he's found himself in since he announced his presidential bid in June.

'Pageant is nonpolitical'

In an interview, Hubbard said the pageant is the issue, not Trump. He said the billionaire won't make any money off the telecast.

"I completely understand why millions of people were offended by what Donald Trump said. I think his comments were incredibly insensitive and wrong. I disagree with them completely and totally," Hubbard said, adding, "I also believe this pageant is as nonpolitical" as an event can be.

In his June presidential campaign announcement, Trump said that some Mexican immigrants to the U.S. bring drugs and crime, and some are rapists. NBC, Trump's partner in the Miss USA pageant, cited his comments when it cut business ties with him and dropped its pageant telecast.

That left Miss USA adrift and created an opening for Reelz.

Hubbard said the license fee negotiated with the pageant was well below market value for such events and so small that it "won't put even a dent in the production costs" shouldered by the pageant. He declined to specify the amount.

"The point is that people who were offended want to make sure he's (Trump) not going to profit from our decision," and that won't happen, Hubbard said.

Trump declined to comment on the Reelz acquisition.

The pageant also won't make money from commercial spots; any revenue will go to Reelz. Hubbard said it will be a scramble to sign advertisers both because of timing and the controversy surrounding the pageant.

This isn't the first time Reelz has gone its own way. When the History channel dropped The Kennedys miniseries that had been made for it, saying it didn't fit its brand, Reelz aired it in 2011 and was rewarded with record channel ratings and awards attention.

Reelz said the Miss USA pageant will be televised 12 July, its originally scheduled date on NBC. The pageant will have to scramble after a mass exodus of performers, hosts and judges who cited opposition to Trump's views as the reason.

Hubbard said he's optimistic the telecast will be "loaded with talent and heavy entertainment value," and said he'd prefer to see a Hispanic host.

The pageant lost both of its co-hosts, Cheryl Burke of Dancing With the Stars and MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts, on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Jeannie Mai, who hosted a show on the Style Network, was listed as a show host.

More trouble for Trump

Also on Wednesday, New York City officials said they were reviewing the city's contracts with Trump in light of his comments, and Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a statement calling them "disgusting and offensive," adding that "this hateful language has no place in our city."

The Trump Organization currently operates several city concessions, including a golf course, ice skating rink and carousel.

Representatives for Trump did not respond Wednesday to an email seeking comment on the city's review.

Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico, the nation's only Latina governor and a rising star in the Republican party, added her voice Wednesday to criticism of the GOP presidential hopeful, denouncing his comments as "horrible." publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

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