Monday, June 10, 2013 | 4:13 p.m.
The fun is over! The hard work begins! Intense rehearsal schedules have started for the 51 Miss USA contestants at Planet Hollywood in preparation for Wednesday’s preliminary pageant and Sunday’s live NBC telecast to 90 countries and millions of viewers.
The glamour girls from each of the states and the District of Columbia who will report to pageant owner and real-estate mogul Donald Trump this weekend had their final taste of fun on the Strip last weekend.
"American Idol" Season 5 winner Taylor Hicks, who now headlines at the Paris, invited several of the pageant princesses to his show. Naturally, he picked Mary Margaret McCord, who represents his home state of Alabama, to join him onstage. Taylor serenaded her with his original song “Hell of a Day." Afterward, reigning Miss USA Nana Meriwether, who will relinquish her crown and title Sunday, led 25 of the pageant princesses backstage for a meet and greet with Taylor.
Another group of the beauty queens headed to the new Nobu restaurant at Caesars Palace to complete the location filming shots that will be integrated into Sunday’s telecast.
The new Miss USA will then compete in the 62nd Miss Universe pageant, which might be held for the first time in Russia. The current Miss Universe is Olivia Culpo from Rhode Island, who won the title as Miss USA at Planet Hollywood last summer. Nana automatically took over the title when Olivia moved up in the ranks.
On Sunday, there was official business when Clark County Commissioner Lawrence Weekly presented a proclamation to Nana and the 51 delegates vying for her crown. The proclamation was in recognition of the pageant’s sixth year in the "Entertainment Capital of the World."
The Miss USA organization works closely with the Best Buddies organization, which creates opportunities, employment, and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. So Sunday morning, the Miss USA competitors worked and played with clients from our beloved Opportunity Village charity. Again, NBC’s television cameras rolled for the pageant broadcast.
The final TV taping was at the Linq, the new Caesars Entertainment pedestrian shopping and entertainment zone on the Strip. VP and general manager Jon Grey gave the girls a hardhat construction site tour of where the High Roller, the world’s tallest observation wheel, will be located in the more than 200,000-square-foot open-air district redefining the Vegas skyline.
The girls have kept this hectic early-morning to late-night schedule the past 10 days — but before even more arduous rehearsals began, it was time for workouts at Planet Hollywood to ensure they have the stamina for the final seven countdown days to the live pageant.
Today, facing more than 12-hour days, they’re learning the dance routines, the fashion runway parade walks for the evening gown and swimwear categories, and their onstage rotations. Sunday’s telecast will feature the musical talents of the Jonas Brothers with E! Entertainment’s Giuliana Rancic hosting with Nick Jonas.
Check back tomorrow for our continuing Miss USA coverage with new photos and the rundown of the celebrity judges who will vote on the new Miss USA winner.
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.
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