In season four of the series, which just ended, Rossi is a tan, blond, 30-year-old engaged to Jeff Beitzel, a wealthy man 23 years her senior, who died last year after a lengthy struggle with leukemia.
Rossi is depicted on the show drinking, shopping and dancing while her fiancee battles cancer.
Lancona asked Rossi to host the pageant after meeting her at a social event, she said.
“I actually really like her, but she’s coming off on the TV show as something she’s not,” Lancona said. “The TV show has really dragged her through the mud.”
Rossi could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.
Lancona estimates she received more than negative 100 e-mails and countless phone calls about Rossi after she ran an advertisement for the pageant in the pages of the Daily Pilot that included a photograph of the reality television star.
Lancona claims a few of the pageant’s sponsors — she declined to say which ones — have backed out.
She believes it may have been in part because of Rossi’s association with the event.
“I could feel that I had lost the support of previous sponsors,” Lancona said. “If nobody is behind me on my decision, I’ve got to change decisions.”
The search is now underway for a new emcee, one Lancona says she hopes can be a role model for the many young women that will compete in the pageant.
“I’d like it to be a positive figure who is well known,” Lancona said. “There are so many reality TV people to go after, but maybe we’ll look for people who have contributed to the business world.”
For more information about the pageant, or to apply to emcee the event, visit www.newportbeachpageant.com or call (949) 777-6772.
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