CBS, Trump ink beauty of a partnership

NEW YORK – CBS is parading down the runway with Donald Trump in a new partnership that will own the Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA beauty pageants.

Trump, who bought Miss Universe L.P. from Madison Square Garden in November, will sell a 50% stake to CBS for an undisclosed price, granting the network a five-year license renewal to carry the pageants from 1998 through 2002. The Eye web has carried Miss Universe and Miss USA since 1972 and Miss Teen USA since 1983; the move marks its first direct ownership of a perennial special.

CBS Entertainment prexy Leslie Moonves said the deal is “part of a strategy to expand our portfolio of franchise specials,” which already includes the Grammys and Country Music Assn. Awards.

Trump will serve as exec producer of the pageants, and his wife, Marla Maples Trump, will co-host Miss USA with George Hamilton on Feb. 5.

The CBS-Trump combo has formed a management committee led by Trump, Moonves and other execs of both entities, including CBS VP, specials, Terry Botwick and exec VP Marvin Shirley.

MSG, a joint venture of ITT Corp. and Cablevision, sold the pageants (Daily Variety, Dec. 2) because they “didn’t fit in” with that company’s longterm plans, an exec said at the time.

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