Much of the raking in VegasVille over the weekend was performed on the ponderosa that is the 2013 Academy of Country Music Awards. The event stretched across Las Vegas, to Orleans Arena and Fremont Street Experience, during the “Vegas Goes Country” civic events leading to Sunday’s awards telecast on CBS from MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Tonight is the taping of “Tim McGraw’s Superstar Summer Night,” which, as fate would have it, is hosted by Tim McGraw. He’s joined by (his) wife, Faith Hill, Florida Georgia Line with Nelly, The Band Perry, Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, Ne-Yo, Pitbull and Lady Antebellum. The broadcast of the concert, which is a case of round-’em-up-as-long-as-they’re here, will air May 19 on CBS.
And for more odds and ends at the end of ACM’s stay in Las Vegas, read on:
• Home to David Copperfield’s belief-defying magic production, MGM Grand also was the stage for some deft-of-broadcast illusions at the ACM Awards. Early in the CBS broadcast, co-hosts Blake Shelton and Bryan appeared at Grand Garden Arena before the first set of commercials, then were shown after the break introducing Brad Paisley, Hunter Hayes and Bentley at Orleans Arena.
It seemed as if the Orleans Arena segment was taped, though the show was part of the ancillary “Fan Jam” event that was folded into the live broadcast.
But quick delivery of the show’s hosts was indeed executed live. The show’s producers, Dick Clark Productions, and MGM Resorts officials had figured out a way to escort Shelton and Bryan to an awaiting car outside the arena. With the aid of a Metro Police escort, they covered the 2.5-mile trip westbound on Tropicana Avenue in time to hit their mark for the introduction. They’d worked on this star delivery system during the week and made it happen in 4 minutes.
• On the topic of Paisley, he held a showcase for his new album, “Wheelhouse,” on Friday afternoon at Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club in MGM Grand’s Underground entertainment and retail promenade. I’d learned of this hush-hush performance Sunday as I arrived at MGM Grand and contacted Garrett from the press room asking about Paisley’s performance.
Garrett, who leases the space from the hotel, knew nothing about it. As he said upon first hearing of Paisley borrowing the club, “Well, this blows my mind.”
But not in a bad way.
It’s fortuitous that Garrett is a big fan of Paisley and the resort company with which he conducts business. As he explained, there are times MGM Grand execs use the space when comics are not onstage.
“I’ve always had such a great rapport with them, it’s always been mi casa, su casa,” Garrett wrote in an e-mail, adding, “But I am not sure what that means.”
Of Paisley, he said, “I’m a big fan of his. We’ve run into each other several times over the years -- him and his beautiful wife (actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley from “The Father of the Bride” films). Really classy couple. He’s the ultimate gentleman. … This is very cool.”
We’ll go ahead and plug in this note about Garrett’s club, which celebrated its first anniversary March 3: A strong series of shows is on the books over the next week, with headliner Dom Irrera with Mike Sacconee tonight through Thursday and Bobby Slayton with Drew Thomas from Friday through April 14. It’s the first appearance at Garrett’s club for Slayton, who headlined at Hooters a few years ago and also took a swing at operating a club at the Trop (a move later attempted by Garrett, too, pre-MGM Grand). Any and all of these comics are worth a look-see.
• Miranda Lambert wore what would have to be the Dress of the Night at her session with media after the ACM Awards. As she joked, she could have won Best Country Duo for how much she was revealing from an up-top perspective.
Lambert is always sweet as molasses in these sessions, humble to the core despite winning 15 ACM Awards in her career, including four consecutive Female Entertainer of the Year honors.
“I can’t comprehend anything that’s happening to me right now,” she told members of the media assembled in the bowels of MGM Grand. “I was rooting for Carrie (Underwood) because I’m such a fan of hers, and I’m so jealous of her voice and her legs and everything else she has.”
Even with all the praise, much of it coming from her husband, Shelton, Lambert seems floored at being as famous as some of her idols. This happened Saturday night at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace.
“I just … can’t believe that last night I saw Shania Twain, and Faith Hill introduced me to Shania Twain,” she said. “In my 12-year-old, wildest dreams, that would never happen.”
Hey, consider yourself very lucky, indeed. One day I hope someone -- it could be Faith Hill or former Dallas Cowboy receiver Drew Hill -- introduces me to Shania Twain.
• The show spun the meter pretty dang good in overnight Nielsen ratings, registering its strongest broadcast audience since 1998. It had the largest audience of any show airing Sunday afternoon and evening. It enjoyed its best numbers in the 18- to 19-year-old demographic for the first time since 2001 and in the 25-54 demographic since 2000. A total of 15.38 million viewers watched from across the country and for the first time topped the Country Music Awards show in those ratings categories, beating November’s CMA show on ABC by nearly 2 million total viewers.
In a statement, ACM chief executive Bob Romeo said, “Wow! We knew we had a great plan to get the word out to music fans to watch, but the fact that they embraced us on this level just makes us want to reach higher next year.”
The show is back in Las Vegas for 2014, then moves to Cowboys Stadium for its 50th anniversary. There is a lot of momentum, or maybe horsepower is the more appropriate term, these days for the ACMAs.
• Quote of the Night: From Stevie Wonder, after his performance with Hayes on "Sir Duke" and after his show-closing duet with Shelton on "Signed, Sealed, Delivered." "Music is about lifting people up, lifting love up. ... Listen, we cannot be here without love. I wish I could say to President Obama at this very moment, will you let me to go North Korea to talk to their leader, because he must not know the people who are helpless who will be killed in a war. This is very emotional for me, plus, it's fun. So there we go."