It was easy for ReelzChannel CEO Stan Hubbard to separate the rescue of the Miss USA pageant from Donald Trump, who created a problem for his beauty pageant by making intolerant statements on immigration.
Both NBC and Univision dropped the pageant after Trump’s yappings.
“I think what we did well and quickly was we separated ourselves from the controversy,” said Hubbard, who is part of the family-owned Twin Cities-based Hubbard Broadcasting. “We didn’t pay a big enough license fee for the owners, Trump and NBC, to benefit from it. But we did step up and provided a television venue where participants who had worked so hard and the community of Baton Rouge … got a day to have their day in the sun.
“I am usually not speaking for my family, I’m speaking for me. In this case, because we’ve all had lots of conversations, I am speaking for my family. Not one of the Hubbards is in agreement with Donald Trump’s comments on immigration. Not one. Not one of the Hubbards is a supporter of Donald Trump for president. Not one,” said one of the least political Hubbards.
I caught up with Hubbard on Monday while he was at the Baton Rouge airport. He departs Louisiana “with huge respect” for what pageant organizers do and what Reelz and the pageant pulled together over the last 12 days. Hubbard learned “a lot about the organization, the values, the kind of amazing hard work it takes for those 51 contestants to make it to this level.”
Hubbard stepped forward to defend his decision to put the pageant on Reelz. It’s always funny to me when “Entertainment Tonight” gets tough with an interview subject, because it’s a little like watching somebody get nibbled by ducks. ET’s Nischelle Turner asked Hubbard about those who might say he was aligning himself with Trump by taking over the pageant. Hubbard told her Reelz was not aligned with Trump.
“Look, I said that in literally dozens of interviews,” Hubbard told me. “CNN and TMZ might have been the most aggressive. TMZ’s wasn’t on video it was on the phone, but [the show’s anchor] Harvey Levin himself called.
“You know me, I’m not ‘Pageant Guy,’ right,” said Hubbard. “This was my first one. [I heard] a lot of questions, ‘Is Reelz going to do more pageants?’ I have no idea what to expect on ratings. I see these Twitter reports [that state] ‘Nielsen Top 10 Social — Miss USA is No. 1 for the week!!’ Maybe we did way better than we hoped. Sure, I’d be open to doing another one. Like I said prior to the event, my hope is, we stepped up for this one in a crisis because we could.”
Hubbard said Reelz called up the pageant, not Trump, and closed the deal in what is believed to be record time. I told Hubbard a reader’s e-mail suggested that this beauty contest was a win/win for both of these billionaires.
“I know it’s been reported my dad’s a billionaire. I’d like to be one someday,” said Hubbard, who doubts Trump will remember their only meeting.
“I met him very briefly, he wouldn’t remember it. … Remember back in the day when we had a business called USSB? We were putting on boxing events with Don King, distributing boxing events for Showtime and HBO. At one of the boxing events I was introduced to Donald Trump. That’s the extent of it.”
I told Hubbard his wife, Jennifer, looked smarter than a beauty queen in the photo I had of the couple standing next to the winner, Miss Oklahoma.
“Guess which one of those beautiful ladies walked away on my arm last night? The one in the black dress. Don’t I have a beautiful wife?” he asked. He does indeed. Wouldn’t she let him go to the beauty contest without her? “I think she definitely would have, but being at a Miss USA pageant … that wasn’t one of those things I would ever have put on my bucket list, but now it’s crossed off.”
I also couldn’t help noticing, from the photo Reelz’s terrific PR guy Aaron Martinez sent me, that Hubbard has resisted the urge to get himself some Donald Trump hair.
Long laugh. “That’s another thing I disagree with him on,” said Hubbard.
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count. Attachments are not opened.