July 4, 2008
The 2008 Miss Universe preliminary festivities began this week in Viet Nam, heating up HCM City and attracting attention from admirers worldwide. The Miss Universe Organisation is a New York-based partnership between the American TV channel NBC and real estate tycoon Donald Trump, which has run the contest since 2002. Rachel Freimer, the Miss Universe Organisation’s vice president of production who is among the organising board’s key members, is already in the country for the event. She spoke with Culture Vulture about the tight schedule of the event and how judges would arrive at a decision in the competitive contest.
Is this your first time here?
I made my first trip to Viet Nam one year ago and I’ve been about seven times since then. I’m very happy to say that I have had many many friends and partners along the way.
What impressed you the most in Viet Nam?
We all adore the ao dai of Viet Nam. Many of our girls chose the ao dai not only on Monday night but also during the event, to show our love for the country, its people and its culture. Viet Nam’s winner is having a wonderful time showing all the other contestants her country. It’s a wonderful opportunity for the contestant from the host country to crow a little bit about the people and the culture of her home.
What about its people?
We have a very pressing and busy schedule because there are so many things to see in Viet Nam and so many people want to honour us and invite us to their provinces and their cities. It’s really hard to say no to any of them. So we try to get the girls’ permission to join many of these activities. Vietnamese people are very, very friendly.
There’ll be celebrities worldwide joining the event. Who are they?
Well, we can tell you right now, but I think we might keep a few things as a surprise. We have two teams of judges. The preliminary team and the team for the international broadcast. They represent people from all walks of life and different careers such as actors, singers, directors or businessmen. We want it to be diverse. We want to talk about history, culture, fashion and entertainment.
Will the results of the costume shows be included in the final decision?
The shows awards are announced right after the shows. There is a prize for a national costume performance, which is very important for the girls as the contestants can show off their national pride. Some of the costumes need from four to five people to help the girls put them on. And there’s also an ao dai performance. However, none of them is counted into the final result. What will be counted are the main events happening in Nha Trang City on July 8 and July 14. The contestants will compete in an evening gown and a swimsuit and also have an interview during the contest.
When will the key judges come to Viet Nam?
We’ll be working closely with them and will try to co-operate with the press. There’ll be opportunity for reporters to contact the judges right before the final show. And we’ll let you know soon when you can make arrangements for interviews and photographs.
The main judges will be arriving in Viet Nam between July 10-11. They’ll come from all over the world so we’ll have a representation of every kind of beauty, not only one kind of beauty. The first team of judges will be in Nha Trang around July 5 and will choose the girls from the presentation show on July 8 at the Crown Convention Centre in Nha Trang. Every girl will be judged in an evening gown and swimsuit. From that point, they’ll choose the top 15 semi-finalists, which will be top secret and won’t be revealed until July 14.
The main judges will be arriving July10-11. They will review all girls on stage, and from the top 15, they will then choose the new Miss Universe 2008, the first time she has been crowned in Viet Nam. — VNS