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Rice, Gibbons, Strong are ‘Miss America’ judges

Other judges include Jane Kaczmarek and Brian McNight
/ Source: The Associated Press

Judges for the 2006 Miss America pageant will include two former contestants, a fashionista and a former NFL receiver.

Pageant organizers have named seven celebrity judges who will rate the 10 finalists on the final night of competition Saturday.

The judges for the first pageant to be held outside Atlantic City, N.J., are: television personality Leeza Gibbons, “Malcolm in the Middle” star Jane Kaczmarek, Miss America 1985 Sharlene Wells Hawkes, R&B artist Brian McKnight, fashion commentator Robert Verdi, football star Jerry Rice and “Desperate Housewives” narrator Brenda Strong, who competed as Miss Arizona in 1980.

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“Desperate Housewives” star James Denton will host the pageant, which will be held at the Aladdin Resort & Casino and aired on cable network Country Music Television.

The 52 contestants are judged throughout the week by preliminary judges. The talent competition counts for 35 percent of their overall score, the swimsuit competition is 15 percent, evening wear is 20 percent and a one-on-one interview with the judges counts for 25 percent. An on-stage interview is 5 percent.