Chatting With Miss America Host Mario Lopez

Television Star Prepares for Challenges of 2007 Pageant

Editor’s note: The 2007 Miss America Pageant airs live from the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas on Monday (Jan. 29) at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on CMT.

Mario Lopez has glided across the floor on Dancing With the Stars and played what has been widely described as an “infuriating fit” plastic surgeon on the popular TV series, Nip/Tuck, but he’ll have a new role Monday night (Jan. 29) as host of the 2007 Miss America Pageant. CMT will telecast the event from the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT.

“I’m very excited to be hosting Miss America,” Lopez told CMT Insider‘s Katie Cook during a recent interview in Los Angeles. “I love that it’s a live event and it’s in Las Vegas and everything is on a large scale. I realize that this is a very important night for these ladies, so I don’t want to mess it up. I want to do a good job and make everybody feel comfortable and have a good time out there and make sure it runs smoothly.”

In the CMT Insider interview, the former star of Saved by the Bell explained the pressures of hosting a live show.

CMT: When they first offered you the gig, what’s the first thing that went through your mind?

Lopez: I thought, “Cool. That’ll be fun — and I hope it doesn’t conflict with anything.

It’s not exactly a tough gig being the only guy up there with 52 gorgeous women, right?

There are worse atmospheres to be working in, but I definitely have a task at hand and, again, just want to make sure everything runs smoothly, without a glitch. And I know that some of the ladies maybe get nervous up there and maybe a little stressed out, so I’ll try to just comfort them and let them know that everything’s gonna be cool. Maybe I’ll get to talk to a few before and just reassure them, “Have fun. Do your best. Be yourself.” I’m sure that’s going to count a lot for the judges.

What’s your favorite competition?

What’s so great about Miss America is that it does have the element of talent. … I’m always curious as to what’s their take on their particular talent. I like to get entertained just like anyone else so, so I think that’s always the exciting part of the night.

This is so much more than a beauty contest, isn’t it? This is such a positive experience for these ladies.

It’s definitely a positive experience for these ladies. The pageant has a long history and a great tradition and is scholarship-based. It really, I think, showcases the complete woman because obviously they get to show part of their personality — their presence on stage, some form of talent or skill that they have. I think it does a good job of showing how well rounded a person can be.

What will be the most challenging part of the evening for you?

The most challenging part, I think, will be I think just not getting carried away, because I like to talk and be in conversations and it being live. Being stuck within the parameters of time, somebody’s probably gonna keep [telling me to wrap things up]. I know I’m gonna have to rush. I would love to give everyone equal time and make sure we’re just on schedule because I know I’ll just want to go off on tangents.

That could be fun, though.

Yeah, that could be fun. In case we skip the whole thing, that won’t be fun, though. If someone all of the sudden says, “Do away with the swimsuit competition. We have no time,” that would be bad.