Former Miss USA Tara Conner, who nearly lost her title for alcohol abuse, is joining several other beauty queens on a new MTV reality show that follows what happens to the pageant winners when their crowns come off.
The eight-part series “Pageant Place,” which debuts on Wednesday, repackages the Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA champions as TV roommates for the kind of behind-the-scenes spectacle that made hits from shows like “Big Brother” and “The Osbournes.”
The new series follows Miss Universe Riyo Mori from Japan, Miss USA Rachel Smith of Tennessee and two Miss Teen USA winners — Katie Blair and Hilary Cruz — as they share a high-rise apartment in New York City for one year.
Acting as their minder and “unofficial peer advisor” for the show will be none other than Conner, the 2006 Miss USA queen who was almost forced to give up her crown over revelations of her underage drinking.
Real estate mogul Donald Trump, co-owner of the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants, publicly rebuked Conner for her behavior but let her keep her tiara when she agreed in January to enter a rehabilitation program. Conner later admitted to struggling with both alcoholism and cocaine abuse.
“Pageant Place” press materials say the four beauty queen roommates will “have a now sober Tara to guide them away from the temptations and unrelenting attention that led to her notoriety when she was Miss USA.”
And if that’s not enough, Trump himself will be “dropping by to check in and make sure they all stay on track,” according to the press release from MTV, a unit of Viacom Inc..
The show will no doubt help focus some much-needed attention of younger viewers on U.S. beauty pageantry at a time when such contests have suffered a ratings decline, prompting the Walt Disney Co.’s ABC to give up the Miss America telecast in 2005.
Earlier this year, Trump renewed his deal with rival network NBC, controlled by the General Electric Co., to carry the annual Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants for three more years.
More recently, NBC agreed to bring Trump’s corporate reality show “The Apprentice” back to prime time for a seventh edition early next year. This time, the show will feature celebrity contestants raising money for various charities.