Who’s judging the judges on Miss USA?

By Kevin McDonough

United Feature Syndicate

Can you name the reigning Miss America? The current Miss USA? Who is Miss Universe, and where is her throne? If you can answer even one of these questions, you’re way ahead of the game and likely to care about tonight’s "2008 Miss USA Pageant" (8 p.m., NBC).

The rest of us will have to amuse ourselves thinking about the judges for this year’s contest, held in a desert casino.

When I think about beauty pageants, my mind does not necessarily turn to messy and protracted divorces fought on the front pages of tabloids on several continents. But then again, I’m not Donald Trump, owner and promoter of these proceedings.


Perhaps he can explain why viewers want to see the former Mrs. Cute Beatle, Heather Mills, help determine the winner. And she’s hardly the oddest choice. The job of TV columnist offers many opportunities and challenges, but I never thought I would be writing the words "Rob Schneider" and "beauty-contest judge" in the same sentence.

Also on hand to evaluate potential Miss USAs are: Joey Fatone ("Singing Bee"), Olympic medalist Amanda Beard, NFL linebacker Shawne Merriman, hairstylist Ken Paves, Kelly Carlson ("Nip/Tuck") and journalist George Wayne.

Oh, and Christian Siriano, recent winner of "Project Runway," will also be a judge. In light of recent events, it should be interesting to see how much spotlight Siriano receives. He was clearly included here to tout NBC’s connection to "Project Runway," which helped its cable cousin Bravo rise to prominence. But just this week, the Weinstein Co., the producers of the show, announced that it would move "Runway" from Bravo to rival cable network Lifetime. Now that’s fierce! The surprise move has to be considered a black eye for NBC and its constellation of product-placing networks.

• "Today" correspondent Tiki Barber hosts "Meeting David Wilson" (8 p.m., MSNBC), a documentary about two very different men with the same name and a connection that many would find uncomfortable, if not unspeakable.

David Wilson is a 28-year-old from Newark, N.J., who navigated some tough times before establishing himself as a news producer. David Wilson, 62, lives in rural North Carolina, where he operates a small chain of barbecue restaurants not far from the land where his family raised tobacco for generations.

Although the men have never met, they have much in common. The older Wilson’s family used to own slaves that included ancestors of the younger Wilson. "Meeting David Wilson" chronicles their first-ever meeting. The two men share stories about the paths of the Wilson families since the days of slavery.

• "True Hollywood Story" (8 p.m., E!) tells the story of a very different Wilson family, that of actor brothers Luke and Owen Wilson.

Other highlights


• A blogger has Melinda’s number on "Ghost Whisperer" (7 p.m., CBS, TV-PG,V).

• Elizabeth’s firm goes into battle stations as her freedom is put into jeopardy on "Canterbury’s Law" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14,D,L).

• The murder of three witnesses inspires the team to try to save the fourth on "Numb3rs" (9 p.m., CBS, TV-PG).

• Scheduled on "20/20" (9 p.m., ABC): offers and products that seem too good to be true.

• Starbuck’s bold move has consequences on "Battlestar Galactica" (9 p.m., Sci Fi).

Series notes

Dennis Miller hosts "Amnesia" (7 p.m., NBC) … A prison fire appears to claim the life of Brennan’s incarcerated nemesis on "Bones" (7 p.m., Fox, r, TV-14,V) … Izzie spills the beans on "Grey’s Anatomy" (7 p.m., ABC, r, TV-14) … Wrestling on "Friday Night SmackDown!" (7 p.m., CW, TV-PG) … Drew Carey hosts "The Price is Right" (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG,V) … Trivia counts on "Duel" (8 p.m., ABC).

Late night


Steve Martin and Raymond Crowe appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) … Jay Leno hosts William Shatner, Tricia Helfer and Ryan Bingham on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC) … Christina Applegate and Leona Lewis appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (11:05 p.m., ABC) … Oliver Hudson and AA Bondy chat on "Late Night with Conan O’Brien" (11:35 p.m., NBC) … Craig Ferguson hosts Brittany Snow on "The Late, Late Show" (11:37 p.m., CBS).

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