Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010 | 9:59 a.m.
See all of the Sun's 2010 Miss America Pageant coverage.
Handsome 2010 Miss America Pageant host Mario Lopez admits that he has only one fear going into tonight’s live TLC telecast from Planet Hollywood’s Theater for the Performing Arts. “I’m terrified that I’d announce the wrong name of the winner,” he revealed.
“It’s such an emotional high for everybody at that moment. Even I get swept up in it. It’s like the final minutes of a major sporting event being combined with the last segment of a reality show series. It’s building right through the show, and then all at once, it explodes.
“That moment the wrong envelope could be handed to me. That moment the wrong name could be on the card. That moment the accountants could have missed something, and the only one who is standing there to announce it is me. That’s a terrifying thought. Fortunately, though, it’s never happened and hopefully never will.”
Our thanks to contributing photographer Scott Harrison and loyal Vegas DeLuxe reader Richard Corey for providing our image coverage of Mario’s press conference yesterday afternoon.
Mario said he doesn’t worry about how the show is timing out: “If we’re under in the closing act, I can fill the time without anybody knowing what I’m doing. If we’re long, I’ll just speed everything up in the final segment. Even if the winner, or one of the final contestants standing there shaking, faints, I can catch her, and it would add to the drama.”
Anthony Eaton, the producer of tonight’s pageant, chimed in : “The only real worry we both have is either running too long or running too short. Last year, we needed Mario to fill, so he just dived right into the scrum of Miss America contestants and started asking questions while the judges’ votes were being tabulated. It worked perfectly, and nobody knew we were buying time.”
The producer who heads up Tall Pony Productions revealed that, with a 12 HD camera shoot and 130 on his production crew, the Miss America broadcast on Vegas HD fiber-optic transmission to the East and West coasts is a “considerable investment.” Some of his team has been in Las Vegas for two weeks preparing the massive production.
“Last year, we used mirrors for the first time onstage to give a 360-degree look for the girls. It worked so well that we have mirrors on steroids this year for our set. Our kickoff production number is really a dazzling knockout, and then there’s a surprise that has never ever been done on any pageant show before that will have everybody on the edge.
“It’s also great that the contestants themselves selected their favorite 12 nominees for America to vote in to have included in the judges’ 15 semifinalists. One of those voted on by viewers could wind up Miss America. You will also see Mario inserted far more into the action this year. He’s so good at this, he’ll be given a lot more fluidity with the hosting.”
Mario continued: “I go onstage and live in that moment. I want it to be very spontaneous and come across that way. I just try to be myself and think of it as a celebration party and roll with the punches.”
The host of TV’s nightly syndicated show Extra also told me: “I really look at the contestants from a fitness point of view. To me, that’s all-important. They need to be in great shape for the 365 days of a year that lie ahead of them with their responsibilities and duties. You have to be fit to tackle that without slipping down.”
Mario, who has penned a new children’s book, Mud Tacos!, with his sister that he autographed yesterday, keeps in peak condition with his own fitness program and has a diet and fitness book coming out in May. He completed a mini Iron Man contest in Malibu, Calif., recently that he talked with me about a year ago.
“I first swam 2 miles. That was the toughest in the ocean. My wetsuit wasn’t on properly at the top, and I got a burn mark -- like a bad hickey -- on my neck. Then it was the bike for 28 1/2 miles, and then a 5-mile run. I came in sixth among the celebs taking part. But it wasn’t until near the end that I discovered it was an actual race. There I was taking my sweet time, and on a rest stop, I discovered it was a competition. So only in the last part did I really try to win, but for the next one, I now know and will really burn them all on my heels!”
Mario arrived yesterday morning with girlfriend Courtney Mazza, and he shot segments for Extra and tonight’s pageant. The 2010 Miss America Pageant airs on TLC at 8 p.m. EST and 7 p.m. CST. The telecast will be tape delayed to air at 8 p.m. PST and 9 p.m. MST.
Despite the grueling day of rehearsals and shooting, Mario and Courtney hosted a pre-party last night at Prive in Planet Hollywood, where contributing photographer Scott Harrison captured the party mood.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.