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December 18, 2014

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Miss USA photos: Bikini, evening gown competition ‘fierce’ at preliminaries

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Miss Universe Organization

Miss Texas USA 2011 Ana Christina Rodriguez and Miss Tennessee USA 2011 Ashley Durham during the 2011 Miss USA Presentation Show at Planet Hollywood on June 15, 2011.

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Miss Nevada USA 2011 Sarah Chapman during the 2011 Miss USA Presentation Show at Planet Hollywood on June 15, 2011.

2011 Miss USA: Preliminaries

Miss New York USA 2011 Amber Marie Collins during the 2011 Miss USA Presentation Show at Planet Hollywood on June 15, 2011.

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Tinie Tempah's Pass Out

Competition at last night’s Miss USA Pageant preliminaries was so intense that the 10 judges huddled for 10 extra minutes after the two-hour bikini and evening gown presentations before turning in their verdicts. Those are now locked away until the 15 semifinalist picks are announced on Sunday’s NBC telecast of the 60th anniversary pageant at Planet Hollywood.

The panel of fashion experts, casting executives and magazine editors also included veteran Las Vegas publicist Wayne Bernath, who represented master magician Lance Burton for many years. In addition to watching the parade of contestants, they interviewed every one of the 51 pageant princesses.

“They had an awesome task. This is the toughest year. Certainly not easy being a judge for this one! There’s at least 15 girls as of tonight -- all of whom could easily be Miss USA,” pageant President Paula Shugart told me.

“I’m glad I competed and won last year!” 2010 Miss USA Rima Fakih told me. “Competition this year is the fiercest it’s ever been. I don’t think I would have made it this time around,” she laughed.

There was an outpouring of support for 2011 Miss Nevada USA Sarah Chapman at the Theater for Performing Arts, as well as big applause for Miss Hawaii, Miss Texas, Miss California, Miss Arizona and Miss Florida.

Sunday’s celebrity judges will be announced tomorrow, but I can exclusively reveal that there will be some surprises with the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks. Center Tyson Chandler has agreed to be one of the judges alongside Rio magic headliner Penn Jillette. Don’t be surprised if the NBA trophy makes an appearance. Rapper Tinie Tempah is the entertainment; his video for “Pass Out” on YouTube has already surpassed 30 million views.

TV viewers will for the first time be able to vote one semifinalist into the Top 15. Last night, I saw for the first time anywhere a demonstration of the IPOWOW technology that will enable them to vote for their favorites during the pageant. Simply load the IPOWOW app from the Miss USA or NBC Web sites onto iPhones, iPads, Blackberries and Androids and then vote every time your favorite contestant appears onscreen. You’ll see the votes and compare against other viewers on the screen in real time. Miss USA and NBC are the first to use this incredible app, which will be used this fall on reality TV series.

We’ll be reporting via Twitter (@robin_leach) and live blog during the pageant, which gets underway at 6 p.m. PT for a live telecast on the East Coast (it airs tape delayed at 9 p.m. PT for the West Coast). Then Monday, we’ll have full pageant coverage, plus our interview with the new 2011 Miss USA. There’s events all weekend long as 1995 Miss USA Shanna Moakler hosts a fashion show and welcomes Miss USA winners over the years.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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