Defiant Miss America CEO resigns as pageant executives exit stage left

Defiant Miss America CEO resigns as pageant executives exit stage left




Sam Haskell, who for years presided over the Miss America Group as the massive boss of the Atlantic Metropolis pageant — beginning when it was nonetheless in Las Vegas — has resigned after a scandal involving the publication of his inner firm emails.

Haskell, 62, had been the topic of a HuffPost report on Thursday that confirmed his emails contained vulgar and misogynistic language about former Miss Americas. His correspondence with pageant executives and board members additionally confirmed that the pageant leaders had engaged in an effort to tank the enterprise of a former titleholder who Haskell had known as “large” and “gross.” He additionally made derogatory feedback within the emails about her sexual historical past.

After 49 former Miss Americas, from Miss America 1948 to Miss America 2017, signed a letter calling for Haskell’s resignation in addition to the resignation of different pageant executives, the pageant’s board of administrators introduced the resignation of Haskell Saturday afternoon and the resignation of Lynn Weidner, the board’s chairwoman and a former Miss New Jersey.

“The Board thanks Lynn and Sam for a few years of tireless work for, and vital monetary help to, each the Miss America Group and 1000’s of younger ladies who acquired hundreds of thousands of of academic scholarships from the Group as a direct results of their efforts,” mentioned Dan Meyers, interim chairman of the board, in an announcement. (Meyers, former vice-chair of the board, is vice chairman of DCI Group, a public affairs and disaster communications agency in Washington D.C.)

In a separate announcement, the board mentioned that Josh Randle, president and chief working officer of Miss America, would additionally resign. The board mentioned each Weidner and Randle would keep on for as much as 90 days to facilitate a transition. Haskell, nonetheless, will go away instantly.

On Friday, the Miss America board suspended Haskell from his publish forward of an investigation into the emails, however he remained defiant, calling the story “so unkind and unfaithful.” Haskell, who made $500,000 a 12 months in his job with the pageant, mentioned the story “hurts me, my household, and the stewardship of this non-profit.”

“My mistake,” Haskell mentioned, “is a mistake of phrases.” In response, the group of former Miss Americas, which had swelled to 56, rejected Haskell’s assertion for instance of victim-shaming.

“We’re horrified that the board is popping a blind eye,” they mentioned in a follow-up letter.

Within the emails, Haskell had corresponded with Lewis Friedman, a former scriptwriter for the pageant telecast. Friedman, who was just lately fired by the pageant after the emails have been leaked, had referred to former Miss Americas as “c***s,” a time period that had garnered a “bahahaha” response from Haskell. He had additionally recommended that when a former Miss America died, it “ought to have been” Kate Shindle, Miss America 1998, who grew up in Brigantine and had been essential of Haskell’s pageant wage in her 2014 guide.

My takeaway from @ItsMalloryHagan and @kateshindle: “do not mess with former Miss Americas!” https://t.co/0Zr1EX0VpP (h/t @yashar who broke this story broad open)
— Brooke Baldwin (@BrookeBCNN) December 22, 2017

On Friday, Tammy Haddad, a robust media determine in Washington D.C., resigned as vice-chairwoman of the Miss America board after the HuffPost report revealed emails that confirmed her correspondence with Haskell. Within the emails, Haddad recommended Haskell rent an investigator to dig up dust on Mallory Hagan, Miss America 2013. Haskell had criticized Hagan’s look in his messages to different executives. He was reportedly offended that Brent Adams, a former pageant staffer, had been relationship Hagan as an alternative of his daughter, Mary Lane Haskell.

In August, Adams and Regina Hopper, a pageant board member, flew to Los Angeles to convey Haskell’s emails to the eye of Dick Clark Productions, the pageant’s associate, which had two seats on the board. The corporate, in flip, confirmed the emails to the board, reportedly hoping its members would enact a change in management in response to the messages. When that didn’t occur — although the pageant did hearth Friedman, the scriptwriter — Dick Clark Productions reduce ties with Miss America, which means ladies who put on the crown will not have an look contract for occasions it produces, just like the Billboard Awards. (The corporate had been introduced in a number of years in the past to freshen and lift the popular culture profile of the practically 100-year-old occasion.)

Replace from the Board of Administrators… pic.twitter.com/W8am9ii2fM
— Miss America Org (@MissAmericaOrg) December 23, 2017

Within the quick time for the reason that HuffPost story was revealed, former Miss Americas talked about within the emails, together with former Fox Information host Gretchen Carlson, have spoken out, calling for Haskell’s resignation. Hagan, Shindle and different former Miss Americas have condemned the CEO on social media. In a stay video on Twitter Friday, Hagan, 29, spoke of Haskell’s emails as vindication.

“I’ve felt very strongly about these items during the last couple of years and simply did not have any strategy to show that they have been taking place,” she mentioned.

On Twitter, the pageant group roasted Haskell within the wake of the e-mail story. There’s even a “Sam Haskell’s Ego” account.

Life footage of that ridiculous petition calling for my resignation [?] #MissAmerica https://t.co/ubdTGO8BZN through @youtube
— Sam Haskell’s Ego (@SamHaskellsEgo) December 23, 2017

On Friday, Miss America 2016, Betty Cantrell, used a stay video on Instagram to tearfully discuss her experiences with Haskell, saying that after her reign, he blocked her from shifting ahead with a actuality present that will’ve featured the previous titleholder, who’s purusing a profession in nation music, and her fiance.

Cantrell, 23, additionally mentioned Haskell probably thwarted her work with a expertise company. Whereas she was Miss America, Cantrell mentioned she was instructed to disassociate from different former Miss Americas together with Hagan, Carlson and Shindle.

To this point, Miss America 2018, Cara Mund, 24, has not addressed Haskell’s resignation or his emails.

Earlier than Haskell resigned, a former Miss America staffer who wished to stay nameless as a result of she mentioned Haskell had a historical past of retaliating in opposition to individuals within the group, instructed NJ Advance Media that the set up of Randle — who she known as his “golden boy” — as pageant president in 2015, had induced the exodus of many feminine staffers.

“It could be protected to say most of the staffers who left would return if requested, ought to the management change,” she mentioned.

Haskell, a former head of worldwide tv for the William Morris Company who had been a volunteer for the pageant and sometimes spoke fondly of watching the occasion on TV when he was a younger boy in Mississippi — his spouse, Mary Donnelly-Haskell, is a former Miss Mississippi — had been credited with reviving the pageant from cable TV and bringing it again to ABC and Atlantic Metropolis.

That is value restating. Hollywood agency @dickclarkprod had frequent sense to know Haskell and Miss America board needed to go months in the past and but complicit board let highly effective ally stroll and nonetheless supporting Haskell. #loopy https://t.co/trQTWzPxwI
— Gretchen Carlson (@GretchenCarlson) December 23, 2017

After Haskell’s exit, the way forward for the pageant continues to be unsure, as sponsors of Miss America, together with the state, have been given motive to query their help of the Atlantic Metropolis-based group. Don Guardian, mayor of Atlantic Metropolis, had additionally known as for Haskell’s resignation and the resignation of anybody who had something to do with the offending emails.

Former Miss Americas who known as for Haskell’s ouster wish to see the pageant proceed and converse of it as a optimistic engine for ladies’s empowerment by the use of advocacy and scholarships. However the notion of a contest that features a bathing go well with competitors — which already appeared anachronistic to many — presents a jarring disconnect in an period of #MeToo that has unearthed allegations of sexual misconduct, harassment and assault.

Earlier than Haskell resigned, Hillary Levey Friedman, a decide on the Miss America’s Excellent Teen pageant and professor at Brown College who teaches a category about pageants and whose mom, Pamela Eldred, was Miss America 1970, instructed NJ Advance Media that she sees a lady — somebody like Shindle or Carlson — changing Haskell. Carlson, who left the Miss America board after a few years, was reportedly at odds with Haskell and others on the pageant as a result of she wished to modernize Miss America.

In an announcement, each Shindle and Carlson mentioned the resignation of Haskell, Weidner, Randle and Haddad didn’t go far sufficient, and known as for the whole Miss America board to resign.

“For the great of the group, they have to step away,” they mentioned. “The ladies of Miss America are decided to take again our program. This isn’t over but.”

Particularly damning, Levey Friedman mentioned, was the actual fact Dick Clark Productions had beforehand determined to chop ties with Haskell and the pageant over the emails, however the Miss America board of administrators didn’t make any modifications on the prime degree of the group — that’s, till the emails have been made public.

In 2016, the state On line casino Reinvestment Growth Authority inked a deal that supplied $12.5 million in subsidies to the pageant. On Friday, Chris Howard, govt director of the CRDA, mentioned it could be reviewing the contract in mild of the report about Haskell’s emails.

“The CRDA finds the experiences of the Miss America Group and the conduct of its management troubling,” Howard mentioned in a assertion to the Press of Atlantic Metropolis. “The CRDA is working with our authorized counsel to undertake a right away evaluate of its contract with the Miss America Group and Dick Clark Productions to evaluate what steps we might have to take.”

The unique Miss America contract had a provision that Dick Clark Productions function Atlantic Metropolis in its “New Yr’s Rockin’ Eve” present, however the the CRDA says that attributable to scheduling conflicts and different points, that by no means occurred. Now that the connection between the corporate and Miss America is successfully lifeless, the hyperlink between the CRDA and the promised promotion from Dick Clark additionally appears to be null and void.

the battle would not finish till all those that have been complicit resign as properly. however it is a good begin. #SaveMissAmerica https://t.co/Lm34LQZ16O
— kate shindle (@kateshindle) December 23, 2017

When Miss America returned to Atlantic Metropolis from Las Vegas in 2013, the CRDA used research that confirmed a promised financial profit to the town to sing the praises of the pageant’s return, and continued to help the pageant, whilst a number of casinos, together with the pageant’s neighbor at Boardwalk Corridor, Trump Plaza Resort and On line casino, closed their doorways. When NJ Advance Media requested the CRDA if there had been any follow-up research to evaluate the pageant’s precise impression on the financial system, the authority mentioned no such research had been tried or accomplished.

Miss America’s contract with the CRDA lasts by the subsequent pageant, in September 2018, which can also be when the pageant’s contract with ABC expires.

Amy Kuperinsky could also be reached at akuperinsky@njadvancemedia.com. Comply with her on Twitter @AmyKup or on Fb.