JUDGES ARE NAMED FOR "MISS AMERICA,"
AIRING SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, ON ABC
International supermodel Niki Taylor, actor Phil Maloof ("Las Vegas"), a former New Mexico State Senator and businessman; Miss America 1987 and Christian music artist Kellye Cash and Emmy and Tony Award-winning writer John Weidman ("Assassins") are among those named as judges for "Miss America" this year. The live telecast of the 50th anniversary celebration of the first televised "Miss America" will air SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 18 (9:00-11:00 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network.
This year's judges also will include Lawrence Hamilton, Broadway actor, singer and dancer; Jennifer Hanson, country music singer, songwriter and Miss California 1994; and Barry Phillips, two-time Emmy Award-winning film and television art director, producer and interviewer. All distinguished members in their fields, from entertainment to business to the arts, the judges will evaluate the contestants from the preliminaries through the final night of competition.
As previously announced, in a spectacular, new dramatic finish, the final two contestants will perform in a live talent showdown competition for the judges. The woman with the top cumulative score will be named Miss America 2005.
Chris Harrison, host of ABC's hit romance reality series "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette," will host the telecast - the third-longest-running live entertainment special in television history - for the first time. The glamorous, suspense-filled night will feature some of America's most intelligent, talented and beautiful young women competing for the coveted title now held by Miss America 2004, Ericka Dunlap of Orlando, Florida.
This year's judges, whose backgrounds reflect a wide variety of experiences, include:
* Kellye Cash launched her career as a Christian music artist after her year as Miss America 1987. Currently recording her fifth CD, she has performed with artists such as Lee Greenwood, Bob Hope and her great uncle, Johnny Cash. Kellye resides in Milan, Tennessee with her husband and three children, where she currently co-hosts a regional television program, "Let's Talk Tennessee." She recently played the title role in the musical "Always... Patsy Cline."
* Lawrence Hamilton, a Broadway actor, singer, and dancer, most recently appeared in the Tony Award-winning musical, "Ragtime." His other Broadway credits include "Timbuktu," "Sophisticated Ladies," "Porgy and Bess," "Play On," "Jelly's Last Jam" and "The Wiz." Lawrence has performed with vocal legends such as Lena Horne, as well as served as vocal coach and arranger for many popular artists, including Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, New Kids on the Block, Jordan Knight and Joe McIntyre.
* Jennifer Hanson burst onto the country music scene with her self-titled debut album, which she co-produced, buoyed by her first single, "Beautiful Goodbye," and the catchy "Half a Heart Tattoo." Jennifer held the title of Miss California 1994 and was one of the non-finalist talent winners in the national "Miss America" competition. She is the daughter of Larry Hanson, longtime sideman for the band Alabama, and resides in Nashville with songwriter husband Mark Nesler.
* Phil Maloof has led a truly eclectic life, starting with his position as an executive vice president with Maloof Companies to being a former State Senator in New Mexico. He recently turned to acting, starring in the hit drama "Las Vegas." Phil currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where he manages the Maloof Companies, the Sacramento Kings and the Palms Hotel and Casino Property.
* Barry Phillips, a two-time Emmy Award-winner for Art Direction of the Peabody Award-winning PBS series, "Wishbone," has crafted designs for CBS, Oliver Stone, the NFL, Pepsi and LA Magazine, and hosts his own interview series, "Great Americans at BarryPhillips.Net." A magna cum laude TCU graduate with an Honorary Doctorate, Barry is a nominee to the President's Committee on the Arts andHumanities.
* Niki Taylor, one of the most successful international models of all time, has graced the covers of more than 400 magazines worldwide, including Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Allure, Elle, Mademoiselle and Glamour. She has appeared in national advertising campaigns for Liz Claiborne, Nokia, Ellen Tracy, L'Oreal and many others. More recently Niki has established "Begin Enterprises, by Niki Taylor." As the CEO, she will oversee creative for the private label brand that will represent fragrances, cosmetics and clothing.
* John Weidman has authored books for numerous hit Broadway productions, including writing the book for "Assassins," which recently won the Tony Award for Best Musical Revival, as well as the Tony-nominated "Pacific Overtures" and the revival of Cole Porter's "Anything Goes." He also co-created, with Susan Stroman, the Tony Award-winning musical, "Contact." His new musical, "Bounce," premiered last summer at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Since 1986 he has written for "Sesame Street," receiving 11 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Writing for a Children's Program. He is also President of the Dramatists' Guild of America.
Art McMaster, president and CEO of the Miss America Organization, is an executive producer of ABC's live telecast of "Miss America." Bob Bain returns for his fourth year as executive producer of the telecast. Alan Carter will be the director. (CLOSED-CAPTIONED) (Broadcast in stereo where available)