Efforts to reach Miss USA TV deal continue

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Donald Trump held nothing back Tuesday night when speaking to FOX News Channel about NBC's big decision to not televise his Miss USA Pageant.

"We have 50 of the most lovely women you've ever seen right now in Louisiana and they have been abandoned by NBC and abandoned by Univision," Trump said.

Some of those contestants were at a photo shoot Wednesday afternoon at the Mount Hope Plantation on Highland Road that was off limits to 9News.

Jessica Province is a former beauty queen, winning Miss Baton Rouge and finishing second in Miss Louisiana. Although concerned about this year's show, she's staying optimistic that the pageant could still be nationally televised. 

And working with the ladies, Province said they are too.

"They've been really positive, and I think it's going to stay that way," Province said. "It's their opportunity here. They are here to showcase what they have done, what they have worked for and what they are all about."

As events get underway, the lieutenant governor's office tells us they're working hard behind the scenes to strike a deal to get the show back on the air.

"The pageant is taking place as scheduled on July 12, and I am staying in touch with Miss Universe officials to evaluate the broadcasting situation before committing additional state resources," said Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne in a statement.

NBC and Univision cut ties with Trump saying the billionaire made offensive comments about Mexican immigrants. Trump said he's now suing Univision for $500 million for breaking their contract.  Pageant organizers say, at a minimum, the show will be broadcast online.

"Pick up the show. These girls have probably worked year round now for what they are doing right here in these next 12 days," said Province.  "Let's show these girls what they deserve. They deserve to be on television, showing what they have worked for."

The pageant is also losing its star power with hosts, judges and performers pulling out.

Co-host Cheryl Burke and Thomas Roberts. Two performers, Natalie La Rose and Flo Rida have reportedly backed out as well. NFL star Emmitt Smith announced on social media Wednesday afternoon that he would not serve as a judge of the finals.

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