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The Miss America Organization has announced the illustrious panel of six National Judges who will decide which one of this year's 52 contestants will become Miss America 2007. The judges - all distinguished members in their fields, from entertainment to business to the arts - will evaluate the contestants from the preliminaries through the final night of competition, will be premiering live from the Aladdin, soon to be Planet Hollywood, Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, on Monday, January 29 at 8 p.m. ET/PT, exclusively on CMT.
The judges were announced by Sam Haskell III, Chairman of the Board for the Miss America Organization, Art McMaster, President & CEO of the MAO, Don Mischer, Producer of the 2007 Miss America Pageant, and Sarah Brock, Vice President Production, Music and Events for CMT. "Each of our judges is an accomplished professional in his or her career field and, together, they create a panel rich with an impressive array of experience and talent," said McMaster. "I am confident that this panel of judges will work together to discover the contestant best suited to become Miss America 2007."
The 2007 Panel of Judges includes:
Debbie Allen - This talented and successful actress, director, producer, choreographer, singer, dancer, and multiple Emmy winner continues to redefine herself as an accomplished artist. Recently, she has taken reality TV by storm, as the producer, choreographer, and host of the NBC show-FAME. She has composed 2 children's books, Brothers of the Knight, and Dancing in the Wings. In 2001, the Debbie Allen Dance Academy was opened in Los Angeles to offer a comprehensive curriculum for boys and girls ages four to eighteen in all the major dance techniques. In a classic example of "life imitating art," the Debbie Allen Dance Academy brought Allen back to her days where she played the title role of dance instructor, "Lydia Grant," on the hit TV series, Fame. In 2000, Allen hosted and produced her own documentary series on the Women's Entertainment cable network. She also directed, co-produced, and co-starred along with her sister Phylicia Rashad in the PBS Special The Old Settler. Allen's film work includes the highly acclaimed Dream Works/Steven Spielberg production, Amistad. Allen holds the distinction of having choreographed the Academy Awards for 5 consecutive years. In recognition of her career, Allen was honored with a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, proof to her life-long contribution in the entertainment arts.
Nigel Barker - Barker made his debut as celebrity photographer and permanent judge on the hit show America's Next Top Model with super model Tyra Banks. He is known for his honest and constructive comments to the contestants and his keen eye for spotting raw talent. He has enjoyed several years of success with the show and continues to do so as it enters its 8th season. Baker was born in London, England to a family of British, Sri Lankan, Portuguese and Irish origins. Barker's mother, a former "Miss Sri Lanka," entered him into a televised model search on The Clothes Show where he was a finalist. This opened the door to a successful modeling career spanning a decade and took him to London, Milan, Paris and New York City. It was during this time that his love for fashion and photography grew and in 1998 he made the leap to the other side of the lens. Barker opened his own photo studio, StudioNB, in the now fashionable Meat Packing District in Manhattan. Barker's contributes to a wide variety of publications such as GQ, Interview, Paper, Lucky and People and his advertising clients include Beefeater Gin, Sean John, Pierre Cardin, Nicole Miller, OP, Ted Baker, and Land's End.
Delta Burke - An accomplished actress, author and producer, Burke is working on a number of television, film and theatre projects and just completed playing "Mrs. Claus" in the NBC movie The Year Without a Santa Claus opposite John Goodman. Recently, she starred on Broadway in Steel Magnolias and Thoroughly Modern Millie. She has also starred in 2 Lifetime movies, Going For Broke and Dangerous Child. She co-starred with Mel Gibson in the film, What Women Want. She starred on the NBC comedy DAG and had a role on the series Popular and on Lifetime's Any Day Now. Burke also starred with Olivia Newton-John and Beau Bridges in the independent film Sordid Lives. She has authored Delta Style: "Eve Wasn't A Size Six and Neither Am I!" and speaks to millions of "real size" women sharing her life story. An American beauty, Burke was a teenage pageant contestant in Florida where she won 18 straight titles. In 1974, she represented Florida in the Miss America Pageant and won a talent scholarship, then attended the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. Burke starred in 2 mini-series: The Seekers and The Chisolms. She had a leading role in the series Filthy Rich and starred in the HBO series First and Ten. Her role as Suzanne Sugarbaker in Designing Women was Emmy-nominated. Burke owns a production company Perseverance, Inc., which produced the ABC series Delta. She starred and produced Women of the House. She also starred in the CBS movie, Love and Curses with her husband Gerald McRaney and a Disney TV movie, Dayo.
Michael Feinstein - One of the premiere interpreters of American popular song, Feinstein is nationally recognized for his commitment to the American popular song, celebrating its art and preserving its legacy for the next generation. He is currently producing a CD for his friend Liza Minnelli. He will also host and serve as consultant on a new PBS film on vintage Hollywood "Soundies" and is producing a documentary feature on arts and society icon Kitty Carlisle Hart. He has written the score for a new stage musical Perspectives, in London's West End. In 2003, Feinstein received his 4th Grammy Award nomination for his Concord release, Michael Feinstein with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, his 1st recording with a symphony orchestra. The year before, The Michael Feinstein Anthology, a 2-disc compilation spanning the years 1987 to 1996 was released. His live performances (from Hollywood Bowl to Carnegie Hall), recordings, film and TV appearances, and his songwriting (in collaboration with Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Lindy Robbins and Carole Bayer Sager), Feinstein has been an important musical force during the past 15 years. He scored the original music for the film Get Bruce. His television credits include performances on Caroline in the City, Melrose Place, Coach, and Sybil. He has recorded Michael and George: Feinstein Sings Gershwin, Big City Rhythms (with the Maynard Ferguson Big Band), the double-CD Romance On Film, Romance On Broadway, among others. The Library of Congress elected Feinstein to the exclusive "National Sound Recording Advisory Board." He and other industry leaders recently met in Washington D.C. for a forum on safeguarding America's musical heritage.
Chris Matthews - Matthews hosts MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews and The Chris Matthews Show, a syndicated weekly NBC news program. Matthews is a regular commentator on NBC's "Today" show and has distinguished himself as a broadcast journalist, newspaper bureau chief, Presidential speechwriter, and best-selling author. Matthews covered the fall of the Berlin Wall, the first all-races election in South Africa and the Good Friday Peace Talks in Northern Ireland. In 1997 and 1998, he produced a series of San Francisco Examiner scoops on the Nixon presidential tapes. Matthews has covered presidential election campaigns since 1988, including the five-week recount of 2000. In 2004, he received the David Brinkley Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism. He has been awarded The Abraham Lincoln Award and the Gold Medal Award. Matthews worked for 15 years as a print journalist, 13 of them as Washington Bureau Chief for The San Francisco Examiner and two years as a national columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle. Matthews spent 15 years in politics and government, working in the White House for 4 years under President Jimmy Carter as a Presidential speechwriter and on the President's Reorganization Project, in the U.S. Senate for 5 years on the staffs of Sen...Frank Moss (Utah) and Sen. Edmund Muskie (Maine), and was top aide to Speaker of the House Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill, Jr. for 6 years. Author of 4 best-selling books, including American: Beyond Our Grandest Notions, a New York Times best seller. His first book, Hardball is required reading in many college-level political science courses. Kennedy & Nixon was named by The Readers Digest "Today's Best Non-fiction" and served as the basis of a documentary on the History Channel. Now, Let me Tell What I Really Think was another New York Times best-seller.
Susan Powell, Former Miss America 1981 - Powell is the host of her own one-hour series on the Discovery Channel called Home Matters, completing its 9th and final season. She has appeared before audiences in theatres, opera houses and concert halls all across the country. She made her operatic debut in Die Fledermaus and debuted at the New York City Opera in Harold Prince's production of Sweeney Todd. She has starred in Guys and Dolls and also in the world premiere of the new musical Zorro. She portrayed Mother in Ragtime. Recently, Susan was seen as Guenevere in Camelot and after that toured in Hello Dolly, starring Michelle Lee. Her other theatrical work includes starring roles at the Paper Mill Playhouse, Sacramento Music Circus, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, Dallas Summer Musicals, and the St. Louis MUNY. In those theatres, Powell has starred in Oklahoma!, Show Boat, Carousel, South Pacific, My Fair Lady, The Music Man, The Most Happy Fella, Pirates of Penzance, The Student Prince, The Mikado, The Merry Widow and The Desert Song. Powell also toured the country with The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, The Sounds Of Rodgers And Hammerstein and The Desert Song. She has been a featured soloist with numerous symphonies and has debuted with the Boston Pops. In the winter of 1999, Susan returned to the Boston Pops, joining them for their annual holiday tour conducted by Keith Lockhart. Subsequently, she joined Maestro Lockhart as guest soloist with the Utah Symphony and the New Japan Philharmonic in Tokyo. Susan is featured on the cast recording of Olympus On My Mind and Fifty Million Frenchmen on New World Records.