ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) _ The Miss America pageant, criticized over its plan to eliminate the two-minute talent routines performed by contestants, has had a change of heart.
Instead, the last two contestants vying for the crown in the Sept. 18 telecast will perform talent routines to help determine who becomes Miss America 2005, the pageant chief told The Associated Press.
``We've always wanted talent in the show,'' Miss America Organization CEO Art McMaster said. ``We went back to the drawing board. Instead of having one talent, we said let's go from one to two, it might be more exciting.
``It's going to be one exciting show at the very end,'' McMaster said.
Last month, the Miss America Organization announced that it would draw the curtain on the amateurish talent routines, which have historically bored viewers. Last year, an all-time low 10.3 million TV viewers watched Miss America.
At the time, pageant officials said talent would remain a part of the competition that determines the top 10, but that the televised finals would include none of the competing contestants. Instead, one contestant who had been eliminated would perform in the telecast.
The talent routines were introduced in 1935 and became mandatory in 1938. They have been a part of the Miss America telecast every year since the pageant was first televised in 1954.