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October 1, 2014

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Q&A: Frank Marino returns to ‘Toddlers & Tiaras,’ and the stage moms are out in full force

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Frank Marino, pictured here with Little Miss Las Vegas, Kayla Hatton, returns to TLC’s pageant reality series “Toddlers & Tiaras” for a special episode airing at 6 p.m. PST Wednesday.

It’s a pageant-packed week for Quad headliner Frank Marino and his “Divas Las Vegas” cast. Following Sunday night’s appearance on the Miss USA pageant, they’ll return tonight to TLC’s pageant reality series “Toddlers & Tiaras” for a special episode airing at 6 p.m. PST Wednesday.

In the show, filmed in January, Marino will step down from the judging panel to play host to the Little Miss Nevada Pageant while his divas judge the pint-sized pageant queens.

You can join Marino, his divas and the mini-divas for a viewing party from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Something’s Brewing Cafe.

This is your second time back on the show. What will be different?

I judged last year, but this year I hosted with my entire “Divas” cast. They were all the judges. So we had Katy Perry, Rihanna, Britney Spears, they were all judges. It was so much fun and it brought so much controversy to the show last year that they thought we were great and wanted us to come back when they came to Vegas.

What was your response to the controversy your first episode created? A lot of people weren’t happy to see you and the divas judging the girls.

I like to be in the mix whenever there’s a little controversy. I welcomed it. And to tell you the truth, in real life these children are really just everyday kids. They’re in the pageant world, but they’re very polite, they’re very respectful. It’s not what it looks like on TV. The craziness is really the parents. They’re the ones fighting and arguing and creating all the commotion all the time. A lot of times the parents are living through the child because they wanted to be famous themselves.

Since you’ve both judged and hosted competitions on the shows, how exactly do you prepare to do something like that?

I feel like I was doing a mini version of my show. All the kids had big hair and makeup and fabulous clothing, so it was really very natural for me. It was an easy fit.

As a host, I got to see the girls and get more personal with them on a one-on-one basis, because when I was judging they were not allowed to talk to me. This time I really got to know some of them, and they’re really great kids.

What is it like to be judging these little girls? You said it’s similar to elements in your own show, but in the end they’re still children.

There’s actually a rule book, and in that they tell you what to look for and you judge them against what the rules of the pageant are. For example, their number has to be a certain amount of time. Not longer, not shorter. The outfit is supposed to be done a certain way. For the performance (you consider) whether they perform it or if they stop. And you definitely put into consideration that they’re children. And none of them are judged harshly. My motto is every one of them is a winner.

Did the moms ever ask you or the other divas for makeup or style advice for their kids?

Yes! One of my divas actually was hired as a makeup artist for one of the children, and for that reason he was not allowed to be one of the judges. And we also asked them not to tell us which one he did.

Were there any surprises or challenges for you being on the show the second time?

Surprises would be that some of the parents were very, very rich. I was shocked to know how much money they spent on these children’s pageant outfits and stuff. Some of the costumes they wear are from $5,000 and up. So you’ve really got to rich and beautiful.

For the judges, I think the challenge was that some of these kids were so good that it really was hard to pick a winner.

So dealing with the drama of the stage moms wasn’t a challenge?

No, I just raised an eyebrow and went on with my day.

Now that the “Divas” cast has been back on the show twice, will this become a regular stint for you?

I’m hoping that every time they come to Las Vegas they choose to use us, because me and the Divas make really good TV. I think it’s a perfect match to have the “Divas of Las Vegas” and the little divas of the Little Mr. and Miss Nevada Pageant.

Follow Andrea Domanick on Twitter at @AndreaDomanick and fan her on Facebook at Facebook.com/AndreaDomanick.

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