Reelz Will Air Miss USA After NBC Dropped It

Cable channel rescues Donald Trump's July 12 pageant

You're going to be hearing a lot about Reelz today, probably for the first time in four years.  

That's because the independent cable channel has landed rights to televise the 2015 Miss USA Pageant July 12 at 8 p.m, after NBC dropped plans to air it earlier this week. NBC severed business ties with Donald Trump on Monday, including the beauty pageant it produced with him, in response to his derogatory comments about Mexicans during his June 16 Presidential campaign announcement.

Stan E. Hubbard, Reelz CEO, said in a statement that his network acquired Miss USA rights because it believed "that this special event, and the women who compete in it, are an integral part of American tradition. …As one of only a few independent networks, we decided to exercise our own voice and committed ourselves to bringing this pageant to American viewers everywhere." 

This is the second time that Reelz has stepped in to air a high-profile project that became too controversial for a larger network. In 2011, the channel aired the miniseries The Kennedys, which had been abandoned by History. The show's executive producer alleged at the time that the Kennedy family had pressured History and other networks to scuttle the project. 

When NBC dropped Miss USA (it will air a special American Ninja Warrior instead on July 12), Trump threatened to sue the network. On Tuesday, he filed a $500 million lawsuit against Univision, which also cut ties with the pageant last week; Univision called the suit "both factually false and legally ridiculous." At a New Hampshire event on Tuesday, Trump said, "what NBC and Univision did to these young women was disgraceful," and vowed that he will attend the July 12 pageant.

Expect Trump to have only praise today for Reelz, which is available in 70 million homes, though the network was returned to its seldom-seen status since airing The Kennedys four years ago. The channel's slogan is the somewhat dubious "Hollywood Happens Here" and its programming includes reality shows like Beverly Hills Pawn and Hollywood Hillbillies.

It's unclear what Miss USA viewers will actually see on July 12: co-hosts Cheryl Burke and Thomas Roberts have both withdrawn from the show in protest of Trump's remarks, as did Emmett Smith, who was scheduled to be a judge, and musical performers Flo Rida and J Balvin.

Before landing Miss USA rights, Reelz had planned to air a trio of Steven Seagal films on the evening of July 12: Ticker, Under Siege and Under Siege 2: Dark Territory.