- - Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fire alarm interrupts NBC’s ‘Nightly News’

NBC News anchor and former volunteer firefighter Brian Williams doesn’t expect to hear alarms during his day job.

He did Tuesday, however, when an audible fire alarm from a floor below the “Nightly News” studio in New York repeatedly interrupted the newscast, the Associated Press reports.

Spokeswoman Erika Masonhall said Wednesday that it was a drill, but technicians couldn’t immediately turn off studio loudspeakers. “Nightly News” moved into a new studio a month ago.

Alarms went off twice as Mr. Williams read a story about American Airlines. He flashed a bemused smile the second time and said, “We should remind our viewers that there’s no danger to us.”

After the problem was fixed, Mr. Williams redid the broadcast for non-Eastern time zones.

Five country stars honored as CMT’s Artists of the Year

Brad Paisley fully endorses the format of the Country Music Television Artists of the Year celebration.

Mr. Paisley was one of five country music stars honored Tuesday night during a taping of the second annual event, joining Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Lady Antebellum and Taylor Swift. He said he loved the idea of already knowing he was taking a trophy home when he showed up.

“It’s great,” Mr. Paisley said before the event, which will air Dec. 13. “It’s neat. It’s not like an awards show where you have to wonder if you’re going to win. And if you don’t, they were mean. They psyched you out. And it’s one where they feed everybody and give you alcohol. We need more of those shows.”

It was a night full of cross-pollinated moments, with host Rob Lowe, Lionel Richie, William Shatner, Joe Walsh, Gavin DeGraw, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton, former St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, the Avett Brothers and the All-American Rejects on hand to celebrate country’s biggest entertainers. But it was Hank Williams Jr. who turned in the night’s most buzzed-about moment, leaving the stage quickly midsong after singing his part of a duet with Mr. Aldean.

Mr. Williams‘ spokesman Kirt Webster said after the taping that Mr. Williams left because he didn’t feel like he was giving an adequate performance while joining Mr. Aldean on his song, “Tattoos on This Town.” Mr. Williams told the show’s producers the night was meant to honor Mr. Aldean, a friend. Turning in a poor performance would only ruin that effort, Mr. Webster said.

Mr. Aldean did a second run-through of the song after Mr. Williams left without problem. The singer praised Mr. Williams as a hero in an interview before the show and said it had been fun spending time with him during rehearsal.

“It was really kind of funny watching him go about music the way he does,” Mr. Aldean said. “He’s kind of like, ‘OK, this is the way y’all do it. I’m going to do it the way I do it.’ It’s just the way it is. And you go, ‘It’s Hank,’ you know. ‘Make it sound like you want it to sound, bro.’ But he’s awesome. I don’t know what else to say about the guy. He’s the real deal as far as country singers go.”

Mr. Williams has been in the news quite a bit recently. A political analogy he made on television involving President Obama and Adolf Hitler led to the pulling of his “Monday Night Football” theme song by ESPN. He then issued a new song and appeared on “The View,” where he found a sympathetic audience.

Alicia Keys intimidates Bono at show’s premiere

Bono is afraid of Alicia Keys.

While Miss Keys talked about being pregnant and empathic when filming her documentary about AIDS in Africa, the U2 singer chimed in and said: “She’s scary, isn’t she? She’s scary.”

Bono went on to say that Miss Keys has “lioness energy” and that her role as a new mother won’t allow her to “let other mothers suffer.”

He made the comments at the premiere of “Keep a Child Alive With Alicia Keys,” a documentary that followed a visit to South Africa during last year’s World Cup with a pregnant Miss Keys and five Americans. It airs on Showtime on Thursday, which is World AIDS Day.

Bono said he met Miss Keys when they recorded a cover of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” - with dozens of other musicians - in 2001.

“I was terrified the moment I met her. I was shaking in my boots,” he said. “I was very moved by her singing of course, but what was interesting was the hard questions afterward, and I think it’s those hard questions that she asks that lead her.”

Miss Keys co-founded her charity, Keep a Child Alive, in 2003. It assists those affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa and India.

She said she hopes the film reaches out to those who want to help but can’t make it to Africa.

“Even if you never have been able to travel there, or if you never can, that doesn’t mean you can’t travel with us and really see it for yourself,” she said.

Bono says Miss Keys has what it takes to make a difference in Africa and around the world.

“Everyone’s got heart, but actually you have to have the head for this,” he said. “You have to be tough and strategic, you have to be demanding, [and] the money has to be spent well.”

If the money isn’t spent well, he said, people get annoyed, “and so all these things take a certain intellectual rigor.”

Miss Keys has composed music for the Broadway play “Stick Fly,” which debuts next week. When Bono - who along with the Edge wrote the music for “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” - was asked what advice he could give Miss Keys, he said: “You know, it’s an amazing American tradition, Broadway, and she can do anything she wants.”