- The Washington Times - Monday, November 14, 2005

A little bit country

CBS’ telecast of the 39th annual Country Music Association Awards, airing live tonight at 8, won’t hold itself strictly to twang and rhinestones.

The evening promises to be a mix of old country, new country and no country, Scripps Howard News Service reports. Performers include such unlikely pairings as Bon Jovi with Sugarland frontwoman Jennifer Nettles, Elton John with Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson with Paul Simon.

Chart toppers such as Dierks Bentley, Big & Rich, Kenny Chesney, Sara Evans, Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, Martina McBride, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, George Strait, Keith Urban, Gretchen Wilson, Lee Ann Womack, Alison Krauss, Carrie Underwood and Julie Roberts are set to perform.

Other highlights include presentations of the Entertainer of the Year Award (vying this year are Toby Keith and Messrs. Chesney, Jackson, Paisley and Urban) and the Horizon Award (with nominees Big & Rich, Miranda Lambert, Miss Roberts and Sugarland).

However, not all the presenters are country folk. Consider such figures as James Gandolfini (star of HBO’s “The Sopranos”) and singers Billy Joel and Olivia Newton-John. Also presenting are actors Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, stars of “Walk the Line,” the Johnny Cash biopic that arrives in theaters Friday.

The popular duo Brooks & Dunn will host — and for the first time, the show is taking place at Madison Square Garden in New York City rather than in its traditional home in Nashville, Tenn.

Peaceful Vibes

Speaking of awards shows … presumably, there won’t be a repeat of the fisticuffs that flew during last year’s Vibe Awards when a broadcast of the third annual ceremony airs tonight at 8 on UPN.

According to RollingStone.com, Mariah Carey was the big winner, earning four top prizes at the urban music awards showcase — Artist of the Year, R&B; Voice of the Year, Best R&B; Song for “We Belong Together,” and Album of the Year for her multiplatinum “The Emancipation of Mimi” — during Saturday’s program at Sony Studios in Culver City, Calif.

Newcomer Ciara, rappers the Game and Kanye West, and R&B; bad boy R. Kelly were the night’s other big winners, Rolling Stone reports. Tracee Ellis Ross of “Girlfriends” (fresh from her emcee duties at last week’s Patti LaBelle tribute, also on UPN) and actor Anthony Anderson (“Hustle & Flow”) will host the event. Ludacris, Pharrell, Young Jeezy, Keyshia Cole, David Banner, Paul Wall and Lil Wayne are among the performers.

You will recall: Violence erupted during last year’s ceremony when Jimmy James Johnson, an audience member, approached rapper-producer Dr. Dre under the pretext of asking for an autograph and then punched him. Johnson was stabbed in the melee that followed — reportedly by rapper Young Buck of 50 Cent’s G Unit — and hospitalized with a collapsed lung, Rolling Stone reports.

Johnson was sentenced to a year in jail last fall, while Young Buck (real name David Darnell Brown) pleaded not guilty in January and is free on bail awaiting trial.

You’re fired

It’s not a good thing.

NBC has passed on renewing “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart” for a second season, TVGuide.com reports.

The reality show, a copycat version of Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice” (also on NBC) with the domestic doyenne deciding the fate of wannabe minions, has struggled in the ratings, averaging just 7 million viewers per show since its Sept. 21 debut.

Like the original “Apprentice” and its gregarious entrepreneur host, the Donald, Miss Stewart’s version of the show (also produced by Mark Burnett) set up a competition among 16 would-be executives to win a $250,000 prize and a yearlong “apprenticeship” job at her Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia company. Miss Stewart’s panel of judges each week includes Charles Koppelman, chairman of the board at MSLO, and her daughter, MSLO consultant Alexis Stewart.

“Apprentice: Martha Stewart” opened the season for NBC in the Wednesday lead-off slot and then shifted to 9 p.m. — directly in the line of fire of one of prime time’s biggest hits, ABC’s “Lost,” Reuters notes. Its two-hour live finale is set for Dec. 21.

Final Destiny?

Though their “farewell” tour wrapped, the women of Destiny’s Child apparently are milking the long goodbye to coincide with their appearance in a seasonal ad campaign for Wal-Mart and — perhaps more important — today’s official introduction of the House of Dereon, a haute-couture clothing line designed by lead singer Beyonce and her mom, Tina Knowles.

After popping up on “Oprah” Friday, the diva-licious trio (Beyonce, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams) will bid their collective adieus on tonight’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (12:05 a.m. on ABC).

Riding their current wave of success with their latest hit LP “(NU)1’s,” the supergroup also will debut their new single “Stand Up for Love,” the anthem for World Children’s Day 2005, which was observed Friday.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff, Web and wire reports.

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