Miss USA gets new hosts to replace Trump-prompted dropouts
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Miss USA pageant has new hosts, part of its effort to hastily rebound from fallout caused by Donald Trump's criticism of Mexican immigrants.
Game show host Todd Newton and former Miss Wisconsin USA, actress and TV host Alex Wehrley were announced Tuesday by the Reelz channel as the pageant's new emcees, just five days before Sunday's telecast.
The pageant saw a mass exodus of its hosts, presenters and performers after Trump, a co-owner of pageant producer Miss Universe, said some Mexican immigrants to the U.S. bring drugs and crime and some are rapists.
Trump made his remarks as he kicked off his presidential bid in June. NBC, Trump's pageant partner, cited his comments when it cut business ties with him and dropped its Miss USA telecast.
Cable and satellite channel Reelz acquired the rights last week. Its CEO, Stan E. Hubbard, said he disagreed with Trump's comments but believed the pageant and its contestants are "an integral part of American tradition."
Original hosts Cheryl Burke of "Dancing With the Stars" and MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts withdrew in response to Trump's remarks. Jeannie Mai, who hosted a show on the Style Network, also was no longer on board as an emcee, Reelz said Tuesday.
Others who dropped out of pageant roles included rapper Flo Rida and country singer Craig Wayne Boyd, who were to perform, and judges including HGTV star Jonathan Scott, E! News anchor Terrence Jenkins and Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith.
The only other addition announced Tuesday by Reelz was OK! TV's Julie Alexandria as backstage host.
Among other repercussions for Trump, Univision abandoned its Spanish-language simulcast of the pageant, Macy's department store said it would end its relationship with the GOP candidate and New York City officials said they were reviewing the city's contracts with Trump in light of his comments.
Trump filed suit against Univision and said that Macy's and NBC "caved" at the prospect of difficulty with special interest groups.