Back in September I worked on the Miss America telecast in Atlantic City, NJ. It was my second time working on this show (here’s last year’s recap).
And despite how it appears — aren’t beauty pageants backwards and unprogressive? — I’m proud to work on it. For the record, Miss America is NOT the pageant associated with Trump. And every Miss America contestant runs on a platform to raise awareness for a particular concern that is close to their hearts: issues like don’t text and drive, cyber bullying, autism awareness, improving literacy, early cancer screenings, suicide prevention, understanding immigration, inner city arts programs, and a few dozen more. I think it’s completely unnecessary to see the contestants in their bathing suits when they are clearly all well-poised and in perfect physical health. Maybe one of these years the organization will realize that is an antiquated tradition.
But there is so much I love about the show — and the talent rehearsals are by far my favorite part. This year we had a ton of Broadway vocals / piano / dance performances which made me SO HAPPY! It’s really impressive what these women can do. Miss Vermont is a pilot and flew her plane to Atlantic City for the pageant… too bad that didn’t count as her talent! (She performed American Sign Language to a Whitney Houston song.)
I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ve got a big ‘ole photo recap here — enjoy!
Atlantic City Boardwalk
Let’s start with Atlantic City, which is not my favorite place in the world. But I was here for 11 days and had a blast because the people who work on the Miss America telecast are super fun to be around. Almost every night we would meet up somewhere for dinner or drinks after work. It’s impossible not to have fun in that environment. Here’s the mellow AC Boardwalk after Labor Day weekend:
We stayed in Bally’s. It was fine.
Famous Boardwalk Hall, home of the Miss America pageant and a major concert venue:
This Miss America statue sits out front of Boardwalk Hall, just begging for a selfie…
… so I’ll oblige:
Quick look at the shore:
The view from my hotel room isn’t too shabby:
Nights out with Co-workers
Meet Lucy the Elephant, located a few miles down from the main Boardwalk — I think during the day you can climb inside for a photo op:
One evening in particular, everyone let loose. Very fun night even though I turned in early.
The Boardwalk at night:
Hands down, the best meal of the trip was at Chef Vola. It’s a cozy Italian restaurant inside a house just off the Boardwalk. When you walk in there are pictures of celebrities who have eaten there and the one that stood out to me was Beyonce. Shout out to whoever got our group a reservation here weeks in advance — I think it might’ve been Tony and Lauren, our executive producers.
Everything is served family-style so you just order a variety of everything and dig in.
And this place is BYO wine! Our EPs Tony & Lauren and head writer Louis made sure we were well-stocked for the night.
I only have semi-blurry photos of the food, but I have to share a few of them… look at this steak! Served over delicious onions, peppers, and mushrooms.
This red snapper with crab meat was served in a pesto champagne cognac cream sauce with a light pesto flavor:
And the dessert! We were so stuffed, but we ordered like 5 or 6 different pies and cakes to share. They were all phenomenal. I especially loved this tiramisu:
Group shot outside Chef Vola’s — apologies to Nick as I’m blocking his face!
Heading to the beach bar one night:
Random display of fireworks nearby — this went on for a good 10 minutes and was actually a decent display:
Miss America Rehearsals
And here is the impressive interior of Boardwalk Hall:
My view during talent rehearsals — we sat in the judges’ box to watch and take notes:
This is Miss Connecticut, from my home state. She sang “Memory” from CATS in Italian, operatic style. She raised thousands of dollars for Children’s Network Miracle Hospitals, the main charity that the Miss America Organization supports.
I took exactly two photos of talent rehearsals — Miss Connecticut above, and Miss North Dakota below… who ended up winning Miss America! So it’s really random that I happen to have a photo of her. She did a jazz dance routine to a Michael Jackson song.
I was the script supervisor for the preliminary competitions, which take place over three nights leading to the live television broadcast. Before each evening an organist would play various songs on the organ — it is the largest organ in the world! (We make lots of jokes about this.)
I have to share a video of what it’s like to be standing next to this organ as it’s being played — it is so loud and wonderful! Plus the organist often plays show tunes (like Phantom of the Opera) and this year he even played a song from the short-lived NBC series SMASH about the theater world. It made me so happy. Here’s the video:
This is my boss Michelle, who produces the three nights of preliminary competition:
This was a fun moment where a life-long Miss America fan (now around 80 years old) was brought on-stage to pose with the former Miss Americas in attendance:
I must share a photo of Miss Louisiana who performed a seriously good ventriloquism routine. We were all curious how it was going to go, and she killed it! She advanced to the top 8 on the live TV broadcast so all of America got to see this routine, too.
End of the first night of prelim competition:
This year I got to stay through the main telecast, as I was responsible for making hand cards for the hosts in case teleprompter failed unexpectedly during the show. So it was my first time participating in Saturday afternoon’s rehearsal — the contestants are released as crew members act as stand-ins so that the director and camera crew can practice their shot patterns. THIS WAS SO MUCH FUN. Here we are backstage getting ready to be the top 15 swimsuit contestants.
There is a camera in the base of the gold Miss America statue, which captures the contestants as they turn to the audience:
And here’s what that looks like as I model for the camera:
For the full effect, check out this video:
Michelle poses backstage, getting ready for mock talent competition rehearsals:
A Promo and a Parade
Outside on the Boardwalk, last year’s Miss America Savvy Shields tapes an intro for the main telecast that will air on ABC the next night:
Our EP Tony goes over the script with Savvy:
A few more photos because I love the “behind-the-scenes” aspect of this shoot — the cameras, the lights, the excited fans:
After we got the footage we needed, the “Show Us Your Shoes” Parade began. I heard about this last year but it was my first time seeing it in person… and it’s exactly what it sounds like. The contestants drive by in a parade of antique cars as they show off their shoes. Like, they extend their legs up towards their heads. Such an awkward thing to do!
This is how they all pose:
There is a fun tradition of crowning someone in the production office as Miss Congeniality. Lisa won this year! Here she is posing with the former winners: Marc, Maria, and Ryan:
And here is our script team! Broadway, Nick, Michelle, Lisa, and me:
During the actual live telecast on ABC, my job was to run hand cards out to the stage managers during every commercial break — again, this was a back-up just in case teleprompter crashed, which was highly unlikely. But it was a fun gig as I got to enjoy the excitement of all that energy on-stage every time I ran out with a new set of cards. (I spent two days prepping all the hand cards and updated them as the script was revised.)
Grateful for the chance to work with this terrific crew of human beings!