Miss Teen USA 2007 contestants dance on stage during the preliminary show at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California, August 19, 2007.
WME/IMG’s first real chance in the set of the fingerprints of all about the Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants, is rubbing some people the wrong way.
Some local officials in the Miss Teen USA competition are angry that the talent agency puts less emphasis on sex appeal and a greater focus on fitness.
Among the first moves of the new owner, WME/IMG eliminated the swimsuit portion of the Miss Teen USA contest that features competitors ages 14 to 19 in August, to be replaced by a activewear segment for the highlight of the teens’ fitness about sex appeal.
“The girls are very proud of their body and work hard to be that way,” said Paula Miles, is a director who is responsible for the parades in Louisiana, Alabama and south Carolina.
“We are in the South and the beaches everywhere,” said Miles, respond to WME/IMG’s decision to nix the swimsuit competition and replace this with the participants wearing tank tops, bike shorts, leggings, sneakers and the like — to show off their horse.
While upset about the change, Miles knows that the future is “we have to [embrace] the activewear.”
For the Miss Universe pageant, which airs Jan. 29, the swimsuit competition will continue — but WME/IMG will have participants walk out on stage in groups of four instead of one for one.
Michael Antinoro, the talent agency’s head of production and programming, thinks the changes are long overdue.
The beauty pageant business is about much more than “women walk on stage in swimsuits and gowns, and not in the war to send with a question,” said Antinoro, which oversees the Miss Universe Organization, including Miss USA and Miss Teen USA.
The agency owned Miss Universe for four months, as last year the election was held — not enough time to make major changes.
For this year’s pageant, to be broadcast by Fox, IMG changes will be clear.
The agency bought the parades of President-elect Donald Trump in September 2015, after the New York billionaire got in hot water during the presidential campaign by denigrating Mexican immigrants.
Broadcast rights of the owner of Univision dumped, the shows, and NBCUniversal — which is owned 51 percent of the Miss Universe looked to sell.
The coupe resulted in a lawsuit. It was settled 11 months ago, with Trump getting the full ownership.
He threw it to IMG for a reported $22 million.
Also WME/IMG is looking to bring in more fashion designers.
“Anecdotally speaking, beauty pageants are not politically forward-thinking,” Antinoro said, adding that “we want to empower women to get away from [stereotypes such as] ‘you look like a beauty queen.'”
The three-hour broadcast will also be more stories and videos about the individual participants.
In the past year, producers traveled to 40 countries, filming about half of the 87 participants in their daily lives.
icipants will be asked more up-to-date, weightier questions about topics such as gun control and politics.
A thing from 2016 will remain the same: Steve Harvey will be the host. Last year, Harvey created an instant viral video of the announcement of the wrong winner — for quickly correcting himself.
This article originally appeared in the New York Post.