- - Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Taylor Swift up against the boys for top CMA award

Taylor Swift will be battling the boys at the 2011 Country Music Association Awards.

The country starlet is up for entertainer of the year, where she’ll compete with Blake Shelton, Keith Urban, Jason Aldean and last year’s winner, Brad Paisley, the Associated Press reports.

Singer Jake Owen and country trio the Band Perry made the announcement Tuesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Miss Swift is also up for female vocalist of the year. Also nominated in that category are Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride, Sara Evans and Miranda Lambert, who won the honor last year on her 27th birthday.

Ms. Lambert’s husband, Mr. Shelton, will defend his male vocalist of the year award this year against Mr. Paisley, Mr. Urban, Mr. Aldean and Kenny Chesney.

The Band Perry picked up two nominations for new artist and for vocal group of the year. In the latter category, the group will compete with Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts, Zac Brown Band and Little Big Town.

Nominees for five awards were announced on “GMA.” Other nominations were to be announced later Tuesday at a news conference in Nashville, Tenn.

Miss Underwood and Mr. Paisley will host the award show for a fourth time. It will air live Nov. 9 from Nashville on ABC.

MDA telethon raises $61.5 million without Lewis

Even without Jerry Lewis, the Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon posted its best gain since the recession started, though the program’s longtime host was on the minds of many during the 46th annual fundraiser.

“American Idol” executive producer Nigel Lythgoe said after co-hosting Sunday’s program that he’s sorry the famed comedian didn’t participate, but the organization needs to move on to ensure the fundraiser continues.

According to the Associated Press, the telethon raised nearly $61.5 million Sunday, an increase of about $2.6 million over last year, MDA officials said.

Mr. Lythgoe told the Associated Press minutes after the six-hour live broadcast ended on the East Coast that he thought the 85-year-old actor would show up either during the telecast or earlier to film a taped segment of his signature song “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

“I was fully expecting him to turn up at any point and join that six hours - and I’m sorry he didn’t,” Mr. Lythgoe told the AP. “And hopefully another year he might. I mean, he knows that he is always welcome on the telethon. It’s his baby.”

An orchestra was ready to perform the song with Mr. Lewis, but he didn’t come to the Las Vegas casino where the telethon was filmed, Mr. Lythgoe said.

A publicist for Mr. Lewis, Candi Cazau, declined to comment when reached by the AP. Earlier, she said Mr. Lewis never agreed to any appearance - recorded or live - after the MDA announced in August he wouldn’t take part in the show or be its chairman.

Mr. Lythgoe and co-host Jann Carl said during the show that Mr. Lewis “retired.”

Mr. Lewis has not publicly said why he is no longer chairman of the MDA, or why he didn’t personally appear in this year’s telethon. The co-hosts’ remarks during the show were the first time the MDA has addressed Mr. Lewis’ departure since it was announced, and telethon spokesman Jim Brown declined further comment about the split.

Mr. Lewis’ absence ended a 45-year run in which he raised $1.66 billion.

Beverly Hills ‘Housewives’ discuss handling of suicide

“Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” stars Kyle Richards, Lisa Vanderpump and Adrienne Maloof returned to the “Today” show Tuesday morning to discuss how the premiere handled Russell Armstrong’s suicide, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

“I thought [Bravo] handled it respectfully in light of the situation. I’m pleased with the outcome,” Mrs. Richards told Ann Curry, adding that Taylor Armstrong “was supportive of the series being shown” about three weeks after her estranged husband hanged himself in the Los Angeles home he was renting after their separation.

Miss Curry asked if Mrs. Vanderpump was “upset” that producers left in a comment about her husband, Ken, talking about therapy and the Armstrongs.

“I think everything changes in light of what happened, but it was accurate. It was his opinion regarding himself, not Taylor,” said Mrs. Vanderpump. “He apologized to Taylor the next day after he realized how fragile she was.”

Added Mrs. Richards, “I think honest, it’s very difficult in a situation like this. Bravo has tried to handle this as responsibly and respectfully as possible. The show is not just about them. It’s about six women and their lives. It’s a part of it, but so much is going on in the show.”

Mrs. Richards said the suicide came as a shock to everyone.

“We had finished filming. I don’t think even Taylor was aware of his mental state,” she said.

Mrs. Maloof went on: “I believe the network with us agreed to take the higher road and do something positive to get the message out about suicide prevention, mental illness and depression. They’re taking a negative and making a positive and [we’ll] try to save one life.”

When asked if the producers of Bravo exploited their lives - and Armstrong’s suicide - Mrs. Maloof said, “[They couldn’t] sweep it under the rug and not talk about it. What good does that do?”

Mrs. Richards said she received “an enormous, overwhelming amount of support and people thanking us for addressing it. People who lost family members.”

Fox showing off its ‘New Girl’ a bit early

Fox’s “New Girl” is getting an early push ahead of its Sept. 20 premiere, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The network has plans to give potential viewers an early peek at the entire first episode of the roommate comedy series starring Zooey Deschanel on multiple digital platforms, including Apple’s iTunes, Hulu and Fox.com. The strategy would seem to place buzz generation ahead of fears of viewer cannibalization.

The episode’s iTunes push began Tuesday, and if successful could provide two weeks’ worth of chatter for a series Fox has paired with younger-skewing Glee. The strategy has been used with cable series, but never with broadcast series still reliant on morning-after ratings.

The half-hour effort, which Fox brass is hoping will improve its flawed reputation in the live-action comedy space, will roll out on Fox.com and Hulu at 12:05 a.m. Sept. 13, and will remain available for streaming through 11:55 p.m. Sept. 19. The pilot episode will not be available for streaming on Sept. 20, the day of the series’ premiere.

The latest marketing outreach follows an aggressive plan that began last month with hotel and in-flight viewings as well as screenings in select cities with Fox affiliates. The “New Girl” pilot also will be available via video on demand and Miss Deschanel’s Hello Giggles blog.



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