de.tech.ting

Breaking Beauty Pageant News Day 2: Miss Universe choreographer emails me to save his job

Posted by andreaitis on September 3, 2009

executive producer donald j. trump

Image by stevendamron via Flickr

Yesterday I posted about a beauty pageant bombshell.   In an interview with Guanabee.com, Miss Universe choreographer Michael Schwandt said Donald Trump personally hand-picked 6 of the final 15 contestants to make sure the real beauties made the cut.

Today, in an email to me, Michael Schwandt said he was just kidding.  Seriously.

His email in its entirety and my analytical breakdown of this Trump’d up situation, after the jump. I have to admit, I was a bit surprised to receive an email from Michael Schwandt.  I had no idea he was an avid reader of True/Slant, let alone de.tech.ting.  As a choreographer, though, he clearly knows how to make an entrance.   I’ll take the liberty of providing some insight and analysis after we read through his email:

This is Michael Schwandt, the choreographer for Miss Universe referenced in your article and I am writing to clear things up.  To imply that Donald Trump “fixes” the event is absurd. Why would I say that about a person, company and event that I work for? Its [sic] seems a few lines have been isolated and/or taken out of context for sensationalism.

There are many factors that go into selecting and judging the contestants on this show, and to be honest, I don’t even know what they all are.

My concern is the staged portions of the telecast. Donald does come in to meet all the girls collectively before the show, but as far as I know, that’s a gesture b/c it’s his event. I have no idea what happens after that or truly what purpose it serves. I am quoted as saying “its common knowledge that he picks 6 of the top 15…” but I was speaking in hypothetical jest when I said that, (written words lack tone, inflection and context). I am not a credible source for such information nor do I even know if that’s true.

It goes on to give an explanation of why this is done, and says “he told me…” Donald has never spoken specifically to me (other than “Hello”) or anyone on my team about a selection process.

There really isn’t much substance to the notion that Donald “fixes” the pageant, I’m actually surprised any credible news source is trying to run with this. I know the Miss Universe Organization goes to great lengths to establish a preliminary and final panel of judges as well as different factors on which contestants are judged however, I’m the last person to be quoted as saying anything in regard to the judging or selecting process, I’m the choreographer, I deal with that.

CNN.com made sure to include my comments in their story today, to set the record straight and I hope you will do the same.

Well, if CNN did it who am I to argue?

A few points, though:

1. “Its [sic] seems a few lines have been isolated and/or taken out of context for sensationalism.”

Uh, hardly.  Schwandt said the Miss Universe contestants line up, Trump walks by, makes notes and selects six girls for the Top 15.  Pretty specific, but okay…let’s say it’s taken out of context.  How do you explain the follow-up Q & A:

So, he’s orchestrating at least a portion of the results? Right. And, his reason for doing so, as he told me and he’s told the girls before, is that he left it all up to preliminary judging in the past and some of the most beautiful women, in his opinion, were not in the top fifteen and he was kind of upset about that. And he decided that he would pick a certain number and let the judges pick a certain number.

2. “I am quoted as saying ‘its common knowledge that he picks 6 of the top 15…’ but I was speaking in hypothetical jest when I said that, (written words lack tone, inflection and context). I am not a credible source for such information nor do I even know if that’s true.”

I’m all for the I’m-not-a-credible-source argument, that’s disarming and clever.  Discrediting yourself, making the reporter look like an idiot for believing anything you said in the first place.  Nice tactic.   But hypothetical jest?  Didn’t sound hypothetical or jest-y to me.

3. “There really isn’t much substance to the notion that Donald ‘fixes’ the pageant, I’m actually surprised any credible news source is trying to run with this.”

This is the can-I-PLEASE-put-the-genie-back-in-the-bottle quote.   I understand where Schwandt’s coming from and why he’s trying to spin this into submission.  Choreographing the Miss Universe pageant must be a pretty sweet deal. Ironically, though, the Miss Universe organization has confirmed much of what he said in a statement to the Fox News 411 entertainment blog:

“As disclosed at the top of each broadcast, members of the Miss Universe Organization play a role in the selection of the Top 15 semi-finalists. In the 2009 Miss Universe competition, a preliminary panel of judges selected nine of the Top 15 and members of the Miss Universe Organization, including owner Donald J. Trump, selected the remaining six,” MUO President Paula M. Shugart said in a statement to FOX411. “A separate panel of judges, introduced live at the Finals telecast, is solely responsible for the selection of the Top 10, Top 5 and the ultimate winner of the pageant.”

Shugart also stated that the system (which has been in place since 2005) is “fully disclosed” to all those associated with the pageant and that the procedure is overseen by the accounting firm of Ernst & Young and NBC Program Standards and Compliance.

via Does Donald Trump fix the Miss Universe pageant? « Entertainment

Much clearer now. Donald Trump is just one of the people who hand-picks 6 of the Top 15. And since this is “fully disclosed” then no harm, no foul.

Except for me. I’m calling a flag on this play. See, I wish it was true. I think Michael Schwandt is a hero. I like the idea that The Donald inspects a line of beauty pageant contestants and single-handedly decides their fate. It gave me a reason to actually watch the Miss Universe pageant next year, to try to pick out the 6 Trump girls. In fact, there could be a whole Twitter component where we all message The Donald live during the show, guessing at the girls he selected. Throughout the pageant they can reveal the Trumpets, one by one (spread over commercial breaks, of course). Think of the behind-the-scenes Hulu video…the text-your-vote revenue…the betting and casino action for odds-on favorites.

Pretend no more, Mr. Trump! I don’t care if it’s fair and square. Your hair-do aside, it’s fine with me if you want to be the arbiter of Miss Universe beauty. Embrace the ‘con’ in contestants!

You said it yourself, Mr. Trump: “If you’re going to be thinking, you may as well think big.”

In fact, why wait?  Here’s the Miss Universe 2009 Top 15.   Anyone care to guess  the chosen ones?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiel5Co3bG0%5Byoutubevid id=”jiel5Co3bG0″]

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4 Responses to “Breaking Beauty Pageant News Day 2: Miss Universe choreographer emails me to save his job”

  1. rob p said

    I bet Trump reads you too (you would be top 6 in his 15). Ha.

    Much to do about nothing in my opinion; what I’d like to know is how Joan Rivers won celebrity apprentice!

  2. andreaitis said

    In Joan Rivers vs. the Pokah Playah, everyone was surprised when Joan won. But that’s the point. With Donald Trump, the show’s the thing. He admits he’s part PT Barnum. The one I feel bad for is the Miss Universe host Billy Bush. Always one step behind Ryan Seacrest…

  3. […] is still rigged. But this did not stop Miss Universe choreographer Michael Schwandt from e-mailing True/Slant that “I’m the last person to be quoted as saying anything in regard to the judging or […]

  4. […] andreaitis – de.tech.ting – Breaking Beauty Pageant News Day 2 … […]

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