Former Miss America Carlson named new chairperson after scandal

Gretchen Carlson poses at the 2017 Forbes Women’s Summit at Spring Studios in New York. (File photo/AFP)
Updated 02 January 2018
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Former Miss America Carlson named new chairperson after scandal

WASHINGTON: Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson has been named the new chairperson of the Miss America beauty pageant, becoming the first former winner to lead the organization following a scandal over lewd and sexist emails.
Her appointment came just over a week after the resignation of the pageant’s under-fire CEO Sam Haskell, who had written some of the emails that contained misogynistic language.
“Honored to move this iconic program forward with so many amazing volunteers,” the 51-year-old Carlson, who won the competition in 1989, wrote on Twitter.
Carlson’s appointment was effective immediately, the organization said, adding that three other former winners would join the board of directors.
“Most previously serving directors have resigned,” the statement said.
Dozens of former beauty queens had demanded that Haskell step down after The Huffington Post published leaked internal emails that included a vulgarity to refer to past winners and the shaming of one over her weight..., with Haskell calling her “a piece of trash.”
The news site initially quoted the Miss America Organization as saying it was notified about the emails months earlier and fired a telecast writer — the “most egregious author of inappropriate comments.”
But in a matter of days, Haskell, Miss America President Josh Randle and board chair Lynn Weidner all resigned.
The scandal prompted the show’s producers, Dick Clark Productions, to sever ties with the organization.
Carlson — who is best known for her decade-long tenure as an anchor at Fox News — made headlines in 2016 when she filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the network’s then boss Roger Ailes, precipitating his departure.
The suit was settled for a reported $20 million.
Commenting on the scandal, Carlson said: “Everyone has been stunned by the events of the last several days, and this has not been easy for anyone who loves this program.
“In the end, we all want a strong, relevant Miss America and we appreciate the existing board taking the steps necessary to quickly begin stabilizing the organization for the future.”


Natalie Portman backs out of Jewish prize over ‘recent events’ in Israel

Updated 20 April 2018
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Natalie Portman backs out of Jewish prize over ‘recent events’ in Israel

  • The Genesis prize, launched in 2013, is awarded to “extraordinary individuals who serve as an inspiration to the next generation of Jews.”
  • Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev accused Portman of subscribing to the ideology of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that promotes sanctions on the Jewish state.

Jerusalem: Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman has canceled her participation in a Jerusalem ceremony where she was to receive a $2 million (1.6 million euro) prize, saying she was troubled by “recent events” in Israel, organizers said.
The Genesis prize, launched in 2013, is awarded to “extraordinary individuals who serve as an inspiration to the next generation of Jews,” according to their website.
Recipients contribute their winnings to causes of their choice.
The prize foundation was informed by one of Portman’s representatives that “recent events in Israel have been extremely distressing to her and she does not feel comfortable participating in any public events in Israel,” it said in a statement late Thursday.
The US-Israeli actress, an Academy award winner, “cannot in good conscience move forward with the ceremony,” Genesis was informed, forcing them to cancel the ceremony set for the end of June.
The foundation did not say which events distressed Portman, but Israel has come under scrutiny over its use of live fire over the past three weeks during protests and clashes on the Gaza border.
Thirty-five Palestinians have been killed and hundreds wounded by Israeli forces since the protests began on March 30, according to Gaza’s health ministry.
Israel says its open-fire rules are necessary to defend the border, but the European Union and UN chief Antonio Guterres have called for an independent investigation into the deaths.
Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev accused Portman of subscribing to the ideology of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that promotes sanctions on the Jewish state.
“I was sorry to hear that Natalie Portman has fallen like ripe fruit to the hands of BDS supporters,” Regev said in a statement given to Israeli journalists.
Portman was effectively joining the ranks of those “relating to the tale of Israel’s success and wonder of rebirth as one of darkness and darkness,” Regev said, a reference to “A Tale of Love and Darkness,” the book by Israeli writer Amos Oz that Portman made into a film in 2015.
But Rachel Azaria, a member of the centrist Kulanu party, which is part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition, said Portman’s cancelation should constitute a “warning light” to Israel.
“She’s speaking for many in US Jewry, especially the young generation,” Azaria wrote on Twitter. “Losing them might be too high a price.”
Born in Jerusalem to a doctor father and an artist mother, 36-year-old Portman proudly brandishes her Israeli background.
She won a best actress Oscar for 2010’s psychological ballet thriller “Black Swan.”
The million-dollar Genesis prize money had been doubled by an additional contribution in December, and Portman had announced her intention to dedicate the money to programs advancing women’s equality.