Miss America Gets Real

Jan. 21 2009, Updated 2:45 p.m. ET

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For the first time in its 88 year history, the Miss America Pageant is going to see a major change in the way the winner is selected.

This year, viewers will be able to vote 4 contestants into the finals on Miss America: Countdown to the Crown, a reality series on TLC. The viewer favorites -- selected this Friday -- will be shuffled in with 11 other finalists and the winner selected when the pageant airs live, on Saturday at 8 p.m., from the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

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"We thought it would be great to really make the whole scheme of the reality show about America getting to know these women and letting them focus in on the women they would vote in to the finals," said TLC exec Brent Zackey.

"Rather than having a top 10, we're going to have a top 15," said Miss America Organization President Art McMaster. "It's a win-win for both sides,"

Extra host Mario Lopez will be master of ceremonies. For more details, check out http://www.missamerica.org/

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