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Miss Universe Pageant Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

Miss Universe Pageant

This is an interview with co-host Andy Cohen and guest star Shandi Finnessy on September 8, 2011 about the Miss Universe Pageant. The pageant airs on September 12, live from Sao Paulo, Brazil beginning at 9 pm Eastern Time on NBC.

Question:
Andy, will you be giddy during your hosting duties this year or will you be staying aloof?

Andy Cohen:
I'm always giddy. I think I probably will be. I'm going to be very excited to be in Brazil and to be presiding over this sumptuous pageant.

Question:
So what are some of the tips would you offer the women?

Andy Cohen:
I couldn't offer them tips. I mean I think they already look great. I think that they just need to, they need to just bring it and I think that final question is the defining moment really. And so I think they already know how to walk and model and strut but that final question they have to be smart and sharp.

Shandi Finnessy:
I think the number one thing that gives a girl the ???it' factor and makes her stand out is confidence. Obviously all these girls are beautiful. They've already won their pageant in their home country and they're considered the icon of beauty from wherever they're from. So it's the girl who's really confident in her own skin and the one that stands out because of that.

And I don't think personally that the final question matters too much because by that point you've already seen the girl compete in so many different phases of competition that you already know who probably could handle the job of being Miss Universe to the best of their ability. And I think that the final question personally only comes into play when you're really torn between two girls. Obviously if one girl completely flubs the last question then she could fall on her ranking but otherwise I don't think it weighs as much as what people think.

Question:
With your background in pageants what are some of the things that they do to calm their nerves?

Shandi Finnessy:
It's different for everyone. I ate a bunch of candy because for the interview I ate a bunch of peppermint candies because I wanted the peppermint to kind of calm my nerves but the sugar to give me a little sugar rush so that I had a lot of energy. But I also did a lot of like deep breathing and on the nights before I went to bed I would do some meditation just to kind of calm myself. But it's like a sisterhood. It's almost like a sorority with all the girls, a very elite sorority, and so you just sort of bond with them and laugh it out and that kind of helps with the nerves.

Question:
Andy, are we going to have Watch What Happens After?

Andy Cohen:
We're not on it this time sadly. I wish, but we didn't do it this time.

Question:
Andy, when it comes to the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Miss Universe contestants, which group are the biggest divas and why? In what way?

Andy Cohen:
I haven't gotten to spend any time with any of the contestants from Miss Universe yet. I'm still in New York. I'm on my way to Brazil tonight so I have to spend a little time to find out but I don't know. The Beverly Hills Housewives aren't divas and Adrienne Maloof is a judge, is one of the judges at Miss Universe so I'll have to keep my eye on her and on the contestants.

Question:
In reference to Miss Colombia this year, what would your advice be to her after making headlines for not necessarily the best reasons?

Andy Cohen:
She's coming into this with some people who maybe already have opinions about her. My colleague on the line will probably be able to answer this better because she's a member of the pageant community. But look, I think she's got to be even stronger. She can't lose her confidence and she's really got to wow because you don't I mean and I think she should probably wear undies.

Shandi Finnessy:
What is the question about Miss Colombia?

Question:
There were the reports that she was photographed not wearing underwear and I think the pageant confirmed that it had been an issue.

Shandi Finnessy:
Oh, that's funny. I had not heard that. I think that if it doesn't work for her at Miss Universe she could always move to Hollywood because that's what Paris did and Brittany and it worked pretty well for them.

Question:
What about other pageant faux pas' and things can slip down when they're out there on the stage. What's the way to recover from that?

Shandi Finnessy:
Actually we've had two Miss USAs that have fallen on stage during the competition and I think they both handled it really well because I mean one girl, she took a really strong fall and it looked like it actually hurt even and she just got up and just kind of smiled and just laughed at the situation. If something like that happens it's really out of your control and all you can do is just have grace through the situation. But I think a faux pas that some girls often take is that they want to be really edgy with their wardrobe and they want to have a gown that stands out. And instead of doing something simple where you see the girl's beauty, you end up seeing tons of material or like sequins or tassels hanging from their garment and it's distracting. And I think that's probably the biggest faux pas that we often see.

Question:
Andy, what are you looking forward to the most this year down in Brazil.

Andy Cohen:
Let me count the things. I mean it's so fun that this is women from all over the world so I'm excited to meet gorgeous women from all over the world. I've never been to Brazil; I've always wanted to go. I love it that this is a worldwide event, it airs everywhere and so that's really exciting for me. I think it's I'm excited to work with Natalie Morales who I worked with a little bit at the Kentucky Derby a few years ago but I think she's great. And this is a huge over about a billion viewers around the world see this so it's just, it's great. It's just a huge event and that's exciting and I love it that we're live on NBC with only an hour time difference from Brazil and New York, from Sao Paulo and New York. And the whole thing just seems great.

Question:
Shandi, what type of fashions will we see the ladies in this season?

Shandi Finnessy:
I think all over the board. I actually had just arrived in Sao Paulo a few hours ago and I was looking through; they gave me like a huge binder full of the girls' bios and photos and it's got a picture of them in swimsuit and in their gowns. So I'm already able to see kind of what their gowns look like and it's a really wide variety. Some pretty basic and simple, some that's very elegant and some that's more high fashion and runway and then some that are just really trying to make a statement. They're making an edge with either just a crazy design or cutout materials and it's going to be really beautiful to watch.

Question:
How does it work out in terms of advantage? Like is it better to have simple or high fashion in your opinion?

Shandi Finnessy:
It really in my opinion because it varies depending on really who you ask, in my opinion I like simple with a great fit. Nothing beats a really great fit on a dress or any wardrobe. And as long as it's simple then you don't want a girl to come out and go wow, look at that dress. You want her to come out and you want to say wow, look at that girl. And so something that just compliments her and usually that's going a little bit more simple.

Question:
Andy, now you've hosted the Miss USA pageant and you'll do Miss Universe. Do you feel like each pageant has its own unique tone and do you approach them differently?

Andy Cohen:
I think this is this is obviously women from all over the globe. I think it's more I think just the only difference in tone is this is international and you're dealing with many, many different cultures all on one stage. And I think you see many different types of women and ethnicities and I mean this to me is so exciting and just fun. So in terms of the tone; I was very excited at Miss USA and it was just, it was really exciting just to be in the middle of it all and so I'm sure that I'll feel that way too. And I will be interested to spend a couple of days in Sao Paulo with the women before we shoot before we go live to see what their energy is. The idea of Brazil to me is like just a huge party. You know, you just think of Carnaval. So I hope that we can kind of translate some of that to the show as well.

Question:
Why do you both think that pageants continue to be so popular?

Andy Cohen:
I think it's a great. I mean I think it's a great format. It just works. It's exciting, it's fun, it's fun to look at women competing for this great title. The prize is actually fantastic and so I think the format works. And it's fun to play along at home. Everybody has a pick and you don't know what's going to happen.

Shandi Finnessy:
I don't think it always does. I think and if you look at like Miss America, which continues to lose ratings, they obviously are missing something. The reason I think that Miss USA and Miss Universe still work is because they're so relevant. We change with the times and so you see a girl who wins Miss USA or becomes Miss Universe and she's not only someone who's obviously very striking and beautiful; she has a message to talk about. As soon as a girl wins Miss USA she becomes a national spokesperson for breast and ovarian cancer and as soon as a woman is chosen as Miss Universe she becomes an advocate for Aids and HIV Awareness.

And so not only is she making a difference but she's very relevant. She's a girl that you would want to see somewhere and want to be friends with and want to hang out with and she's sexy, she's opinionated and she embraces all of that. Last year Miss USA's photos that they took just at the pageant, there was so much controversy because they were so sexy. But that's relevant, that's for the times and I think that's why it still works.

Question:
Andy, what were your thoughts when you were invited to host Miss Universe after hosting Miss America?

Andy Cohen:
I was so excited. I was very excited, I was flattered. Obviously I was really excited by the ratings from Miss USA. It was I think the highest rated in some years and so I was thrilled to be asked to do it and just excited to go to Brazil.

Question:
What would you like to say to people who happen to be tuning in and what would you get them to watch this year's pageant?

Andy Cohen:
Hopefully we'll be having a lot of fun and we can be a little irreverent and have fun with it and shake it up a little bit. It's an unpredictable night.

Question:
Shandi, what kinds of questions do you think will be asked of the contestants this year?

Shandi Finnessy:
I think the past few years we've been on a trend of just really tough, shocker questions, which I think is really great though because it shows a lot of people say oh, Miss USA, that's just pretty girls like Miss America's the one with the substance. And it's great to show wrong, like the Miss USA girls and Miss Universe girls, we not only look amazing in the swimsuit and gown but we can we have a brain to go along with it and we are college educated.

And so it's all over the board. It's everything from just shocking questions, political questions, the faux pas questions that no one wants to even really talk about. It's just all over the board and that's actually become one of the more interesting parts of the pageant now to watch because we've seen kind of the mix-ups that have happened in the past and we've heard the South Carolina answer and then the Carrie Prejean answer so it's going to be really interesting to see what the girls say.

Question:
Andy, what kind of question do you hope are asked of the contestants?

Andy Cohen:
You know what? I echo the sentiment. I love the tough questions. I think I thought the questions at Miss USA were fantastic about legalization of marijuana, which ultimately Miss California won Miss USA and she was asked that question. I loved the question about religion. I think it's interesting to hear what these women have to say about real issues that people are talking about. I mean I guess that to me was why I said earlier that it was, it seemed to me just as a viewer and I'm not a judge and I don't and obviously now I'm the host but it just seemed to me standing there wow, this would change my impression of someone now that I've heard them speak. You know, this could make me turn on someone quickly.

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