The 2012 Miss America Pageant Announces Panel of National Judges
"The 2012 Miss America Pageant" promises to be a vibrant, colorful and exciting event, and the esteemed panel of national judges provides a diverse team from the worlds of entertainment, beauty, fitness and journalism. Lara Spencer, Lifestyle Anchor for "Good Morning America," revealed the panel of judges on this morning's show. This year's panel of seven judges includes an accomplished dancer and musician; an international journalist, a talented reality TV producer, the matriarch of one of the most recognized families in Hollywood, a successful actress, a fitness pioneer and a popular journalist. Each judge will evaluate the contestants from the preliminaries through the final night of competition, which will be broadcast live from Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on SATURDAY, JANUARY 14 (9:00-11:00 p.m., ET/PT) on the ABC Television Network.
The contestants vying for the title of Miss America exemplify all that is best in today's modern woman. Miss America must be talented, intelligent and well-spoken; she is a leader with a strong commitment to her community, she understands the importance of health and fitness, and she is role model for millions of women not only for her spot-on sense of style and fashion, but also because she has become a relatable "it girl" who can connect with today's contemporary woman. This year's panel of judges is comprised of experts who focus on all of the categories each of the young women must excel in to be named Miss America.
From the field of performing arts, Mark Ballas - A lifelong dancer and musician, Emmy nominated Mark Ballas has wowed viewers on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" for nine seasons, winning two mirror ball trophies (Season 6 with Kristi Yamaguchi and Season 8 with Shawn Johnson). Mark's debut solo album, "HurtLoveBox," was released by Hit Play Records - Sony Red. His first single, "Hotwire," won Best Freshman Video on MTV and has been put in rotation on the network. Born in Houston to a family of international dance stars, Mark moved to London as a child. He attended the world-renowned Italia Conti Performing Arts School. There he not only danced, but also was required to sing, act and play an instrument. By age 12, he was writing and performing his own music, playing guitar, drums and bass. As an actor, Mark has played the lead in the musical "Copacabana," and took on roles in the UK tour of "Maria de Buenos Aires" and "The Buddy Holly Musical." On television he has guest starred on "Melissa and Joey" and "Samantha Who?" When he isn't performing, Mark is passionate about speaking to school-age kids about acceptance, sparked by his Uncle David's suicide nine years ago. Through the grieving process, Mark and his mother, Shirley, began to align themselves with The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. They formed The Ballas Foundation and are committed to removing the stigma associated with mental illness and suicide.
From the field of communications, Ra?l de Molina -- Ra?l de Molina was born in Cuba, grew up in Spain, and arrived in the United States at the age of 16. After graduating from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, he worked for the Associated Press as a freelance photographer during the 1980s. His photographs have been published in "Time," "Life," "Newsweek" and "Paris Match," among others. For the past 21 years he has been anchoring television shows, first for "Telemundo" and now as the multiple Emmy Award-winning co-host of Univision networks No. 1 rated entertainment news show, "El Gordo y La Flaca," with more viewers in its time slot than ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX combined. Ra?l is also the author of the bestselling "La Dieta del Gordo" and one of the original contributors to the Huffington Post's Food and Latino Voices sections. He continues to write regular columns. In 2008 he was chosen by People en Espa?ol as one of the most influential Hispanics in the United States.
From the field of star power, Mike Fleiss -- Mike Fleiss is founder of Next Entertainment and executive producer of "The Bachelor" franchise, which also includes "The Bachelorette" and "Bachelor Pad," and he will serve as executive producer of "H8R." His credits include "High School Reunion," "The Cougar," "There Goes the Neighborhood," "Hitched or Ditched," "More to Love" and "Leave it to Lamas." With a multi-year deal with Warner Horizon Television to create original series for network, syndication and cable, Mike is a leading producer of reality programming. He has created over three dozen series and produced over 300 hours of primetime television. In addition to his work in TV, he co-directed the documentary "God Bless Ozzy Osbourne" and received a Best New Director nomination. Mike shares a producing credit on the upcoming feature "Shark Night 3D." He also produced the remake of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning," as well as "Poseidon" for Warner Bros. and the "Hostel" movies. He was recently awarded the Reality Rocks Humanitarian Award for his contributions and charitable efforts, including "Bachelor Gives Back," which supports various nonprofit organizations that enrich and empower communities around the world. He actively supports the Surfrider Foundation, dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world's oceans, waves and beaches. Mike has authored Sports with an Attitude: The World's Most Irreverent Sports Quiz Book and Show Biz with an Attitude: The World's Most Irreverent Entertainment Quiz Book.
From the field of beauty, Kris Jenner -- Kris Jenner is the star, creator and executive producer, along with Ryan Seacrest, of "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" for E!. The show wrapped its sixth season, and enjoys the title of "Highest Rated and Most Watched Telecast ever on E!." Kris also produces "Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami," "Kourtney and Kim Take New York" and "Khlo? and Lamar." In her new memoir, Kris Jenner? And All Things Kardashian, Kris writes about her relationships, her kids and her intimate connection to the O.J. Simpson trial. She is the president of her own Production Company, Jenner Communications, and for the last 20 years has been manager for her husband and Olympic Gold medalist Bruce Jenner's motivational speaking tour. Kris also manages the careers of her six children. She has enjoyed success as a host and correspondent on "The Insider," and has appeared on numerous television shows. She is an avid spokesperson and supporter of numerous charities, including the Brent Shapiro Foundation for Drug Awareness, Make-A-Wish, and serves on the board of The Dream Foundation. Kris owns and operates numerous businesses, including PerfectSkin and QuickTrim, and develops many successful brands for her daughters, such as the Kim Kardashian Fragrance, Unbreakable by Khloe and Lamar, and a Global Lifestyle Line for Sears. Kim and Kris are the spokespersons for Skechers Shape-Ups. Kris and all of her daughters will have their own line of nail polish for OPI. For Kris, her favorite role will always be wife and mother. Along with her six children, she has welcomed new grandson Mason. Kris lives in Hidden Hills, California with her husband of 20 years, Bruce.
From the field of talent, Teri Polo -- Teri Polo currently stars as Theresa Hayden Keen on ABC's "Man Up!" She is best known for her role as Pam in the "Meet the Parents" theatricals. She recently starred in "The Little Fockers," the third installment of the movie franchise, and has completed production on "Beyond," to be released in 2012. Currently Teri is shooting the Lifetime movie "Jayne's Story," which will air in early 2012. She was seen in the Hallmark movie, "Taste of Romance," and has been recurring on "Law & Order: Los Angeles." Other film credits include "The Hole" and the miniseries, "The Storm," both released in 2010. Earlier credits include "Beyond Borders," "The Unsaid" and "Domestic Disturbance." She also co-starred in "Meet the Parents," for which she won a People's Choice Award, and its sequel, "Meet the Fockers." Originally from Dover, DE, Teri began her performing career as a dancer. By age 13 she was attending New York's School of Ballet. The summer before her senior year, she was signed to a modeling contract, which led to a role on "Loving." Teri made her primetime debut in the series "TV 101." Television audiences may remember her as Michelle Capra in "Northern Exposure." She also starred in the comedy series "I'm with Her," as well as in David E. Kelley's "The Wedding Bells." Additional TV credits include Hallmark's "Love Is a Four-Letter Word," the original film "Second String" and the television movie "Straight from the Heart." She was nominated for an Emmy Award for her role opposite Jimmy Smits on "The West Wing." Teri currently lives in Manhattan Beach, California with her family.
From the field of fitness, Chris Powell -- Chris Powell is the host and transformation specialist on ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition," which debuted last May as the No. 1 show on TV. Returning for Season Two this spring, Chris will again travel the country, using his innovative techniques, education and expertise to guide extremely overweight individuals as they shed hundreds of pounds over the course of a year. Unlike others in his field, Chris takes an extra step as he guides the participants through their transformations by moving into their homes. Assuring that they have the proper nourishment and exercise movement, he provides a fresh perspective to individuals whose lives have become unmanageable because of their weight. Chris exploded onto the fitness scene with his unorthodox approach, becoming a pioneer for a new hybrid of fitness professionals. He has captured national attention with the largest and fastest natural weight loss ever documented, transforming the life of David Smith who lost 401 lbs in 26 months. It was Chris' unyielding dedication to another that captured the heart of America as he shared his story on such national shows as "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "20/20," "The View," as well as a one-hour documentary for TLC. Chris holds a degree in Exercise Science, with concentrations in biomechanics and physiology, and the training accreditation, The Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He has been the Transformation Pro on KTVK's "Good Morning Arizona" for the last eight years, delivering fitness tips to the largest news viewing audience in Arizona. This January, Hyperion will release his first book, entitled Choose to Lose.
From the field of news and entertainment, Lara Spencer - Lara was named lifestyle anchor for ABC's "Good Morning America" in March 2011. She was previously the show's National Correspondent from 1999 to 2004. In 2004 she began hosting "The Insider." During her seven seasons there, Lara interviewed the industry's biggest stars and traveled the world for exclusive interviews. She also hosted three primetime TV specials for CBS. She began her career in the NBC Page Program. Her first reporting job was at WDEF-TV in Chattanooga, TN. From there, she began reporting on her home turf for News 12 Long Island. From 1995 to 1999, Lara was a reporter and anchor for WABC-TV's "Eyewitness News" in NYC, where she covered breaking stories and hosted a nightly feature, "Life Around Here with Lara Spencer." She moved full-time to GMA the following year. In 2003 Lara became host of PBS' "Antiques Roadshow," while working for "GMA," and then "The Insider." It was a dream job for Lara, who is an antiques hunter and interior designer. She decorated her friend Kathy Griffin's home, which will be featured in her upcoming book, I Brake for Yard Sales, out in April 2012 from Abrams Books. Lara also created and executive-produces two HGTV shows, and is the creator and EP of "It's Worth WHAT??," which aired in August. She holds charity "Taste Maker Tag Sales" of her vintage finds on the website One Kings Lane, and donates all profits to Housing Works. She is an advocate for Greenwich Adult Day Care in Connecticut, which helps seniors living with Alzheimer's. Lara is married and a mother to a son and a daughter, Duff and Kate.
The three nights of preliminaries for "The 2012 Miss America Pageant" will take place on January 10, 11 & 12 at Planet Hollywood's Theatre for the Performing Arts. Tickets for the preliminaries, as well as the Miss America Live Event, will be available soon. For information on all ticket sales visit www.missamerica.org. Teresa Scanlan, of Gering, Nebraska, is Miss America 2011.
About the Miss America Organization
The Miss America Pageant and the scholarship program are among the most enduring endeavors in modern American history. Celebrating 90 years of remarkable achievements when it first began with its humble beginnings as a "bathing beauty'" contest in the 1920s, the Miss America Organization today is one of the nation's leading achievement programs and the world's largest provider of scholarship assistance for young women. Last year, the Miss America Organization and its state and local organizations made available more than $45 million in cash and scholarship assistance, helping young women all across the country to reach their dreams and goals. For more information, go to www.missamerica.org.