Miss America just needs a makeover

So, ABC is dropping the Miss America Pageant but signing on for another nine episodes of “Desperate Housewives”? Where is the logic in that?

A girl spends 10 years learning how to play the ukulele and ABC couldn’t care less. But have her tear off her clothes, French-kiss a sweaty gardener and moan off camera and somehow that is supposed to be more interesting to American audiences?

Whatever happened to our longstanding love affair with the flaming baton? Does no one give a darn anymore about roller ballet? Do ABC execs think it’s easy to juggle fruit while singing Neil Sedaka tunes?

It is not!

Or at least, I always assumed it wasn’t, and gave those girls extra points on my scorecard.

This was an annual rite in my home, of course, and in everyone else’s home, too, for many years. In 1961, for instance, 75 percent of all American TVs were tuned to the pageant. (And 76 percent of all little girls sat watching in sashes made of toilet paper.)

Last year, however, only 9.8 million people watched – one for every reference to the ever-so-serious scholarship aspect of the contest. (Bathing suit competition? What bathing suit competition? Oh, that bathing suit competition.)

Still, it seems pretty clear that rather than dropping the show, ABC could have had a red-hot hit on its hands with just a little tweaking. Why, oh why, didn’t they try:


Pairs of contestants are given lipstick, rouge, eye shadow, glue, fake hair and Magic Markers. Time to trade makeovers!


Combining speed and surprise, contestants attempt to take a bite out of one another’s fannies. Staff surgeons from “The Swan” stand by.


Girls are dropped onto a desert island ruled by a bitter has-been (Kathie Lee Gifford). Which of Cody’s 50 potential baby-sitters will please the lady of the land – and which will be sent to the sweatshop?


One handsome (and, unfortunately, married) professor presides over an honors seminar filled with female students from every state.

Each week, these coeds write papers and contribute thoughtful insights to class discussion while dressed in pushup bras and high heels. Whose grade will be the first to inflate?


Contestants gather on the edge of an active volcano, where they have their choice of tap-dancing, cartwheeling or unicycling their way around the rim. Last one unconsumed by sulfurous flames wins!


Instead of just talking about world peace, these brave beauties go out and make it happen in their choice of exotic locales – Fallujah, the Gaza Strip, North Korea or the Bronx – dressed only in Red Sox T-shirts.