Carrie Underwood emerged as the evening's big winner at last night's 2007 CMT Music Awards, hosted by Jeff Foxworthy at The Curb EventCenter at Belmont University in Nashville. Underwood's video for "Before He Cheats" won trophies for Video of the Year, Female Video of the Year and Director of the Year. Carrie Underwood also performed a dynamic rendition of "Before He Cheats" on the live broadcast.
"It was at the CMT Awards last year that I gave my very first acceptance speech ever," the American Idol Season 4 winner said in claiming the video of the year prize. "Let me tell you, it's great to be up here again. Thank you, fans. I've had such an amazing, blessed two years. I started out on a fan-based show, and you guys have continued to support me throughout everything. ... Everybody around me has been so amazing. We're so blessed. I hope we continue to be blessed because this is awesome."
Tonight's Idol mentor, Martina McBride ("Anyway"), also performed and Season 5 Idol finalist Kellie Pickler was a presenter.
CMT will rebroadcast the awards ceremony today at 2:00 and 9:00 p.m.; Thursday April 19 at 8:00 p.m.; Friday April 20 at 10:00 p.m.; Saturday April 21 at 4:30 p.m.; and Sunday April 22 at 1:30 and 7:00 p.m. (all times ET/PT. Check local listings for channel).
A MINOR PREDICTION
The New York Post reports that Idol's musical director Rickey Minor thinks Sanjaya Malakar could win the whole competition. "You know what? I think that he could win the show. He's gotten this far because he really is what he is -- he's got this huge smile, he's a handsome guy and is really likable. People are pulling for him -- and people really care about him. "
"I can tell you he can sing," said Minor, now in his third season as "Idol" musical director. "I think there are people who are naysayers, but I've run into a lot of credible people who really enjoy his voice. "He has a connection to the lyrics and people are pleasantly surprised. This isn't a singing competition alone. It's for a star to emerge," said Minor. "Sanjaya has a huge likability factor. I think it's possible for him to win based on the way he's moving through the competition."
Of the seven remaining contestants, Minor said, "In the beginning they were all having a hard time because they started reading the blogs and the junk people were saying about them. I told them, 'Don't read [the blogs]. Believe in what you're doing and work hard on your craft.' "
MORE ON SANJAYA
Carson Daly told People magazine that he's addicted to American Idol -- and its surprising breakout star. "I'm just enjoying it now because of this whole idea that Sanjaya might win." Daly added he is impressed by Malakar's style more than his singing skill. "I think there's a lot of people like me that may not watch it every single week -- or have a deep passion for American Idol -- but now we're hooked, because of this idea that this guy's got a new haircut every day." Daly also revealed his strategy for seeing the 17-year-old win it all. Asked if he had voted for Sanjaya, he replied: "No, I haven't, but I plan on it -- repeatedly."
People also polled other celebs on how they feel about Sanjaya:
Mary J. Blige: I don't think he's horrible, but everybody's making it where he's just horrible. I've heard worse.
Diana DeGarmo: I believe more power to him. If he can do it, go for it.
Joel Madden: I'm hoping he wins, because Howard Stern's been trying to get him votes, and I love Howard.
Kevin Nealon: I'm not a 'Fanjaya,' but I like that he's still in there. It's fun seeing how long Sanjaya will stay.
Haylie Duff: I've only seen his hairdos. I've never heard him sing.
Kevin Bacon: Young kids like him because he's so fresh-faced and open. That's the appeal, I think. American Idol is for people to have fun, to be entertained. You can't take it too seriously.
Adam Goldberg: Just because it's a train wreck, I'd like to see Sanjaya win to see if there's some crazy revolution that takes place. I think it's the same reason I watch that show and other shows like it for that matter. I think I – and America in general – just like to hate things. I wish I was above that, but I'm not. So I enjoy things that piss me off.
Rex Lee (Entourage): He's incredibly entertaining! I love that his hair is different every week. It's ingenious.
... And even Maxim mag has jumped on the Sanjaya wagon, naming him "Today's Girl" saying
"Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: You've no one but the Devil's lawyer to blame for this androgynous American Idol stowaway, who, despite being detested by the judges, somehow remains in the hunt for the show's coveted prize as this year's top 40 footnote. We stopped watching after the auditions (the only digestible part of the show), but it's our understanding that we have Sanjina to thank for the "ponyhawk," a hair-novation destined to tickle your underarm as you noogie hordes of copycat hipsters."
NO MINOR THING
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reports that only one person onstage actually knows whose Idoldom is about to end each Wednesday, and that person is not Angel of Death Ryan Seacrest, nor the judges. Music director Rickey Minor begins every Wednesday night show with a little voice in his headset telling him the identity of the condemned, so that quietly but efficiently he may prepare for that most hallowed of "Idol" traditions -- the goodbye song. Minor's role in preparing this ritual and keeping the secret to himself for that one crucial hour is a telling example of how the unassuming bass player seamlessly guides each week's show.
Currently, Minor is working on the song for "Idol Gives Back," the show's charity drive, with Quincy Jones. "We're working on the song for 'Idol Gives Back,' which has to be done in two weeks," Minor told the Times last week. "We talked about whether the song should be a ballad, should it be a 'We Are the World' or should it be something that has tempo. I opted for the latter. We'll have enough 'no dry eyes' video clips and the comedians will bring some humor into it. But the uplifting song needs to have the energy."
TEXTING = PENNIES FROM HEAVEN
AT&T is happily making loads of money off all those Idol text messages, according to MySanAntonio.com. The nation's biggest phone company has turned its five-year sponsorship of "American Idol" into one of the industry's biggest marketing successes, analysts said. It's generating millions in text-messaging revenues, steering customers to try new phone features and associating its wireless unit — one of "Idol's" three main sponsors — with a runaway pop culture phenomenon.
AT&T's cellular unit — until recently called Cingular Wireless — last year carried 64.5 million text messages as "Idol" viewers voted for their favorite contestants, and it charged them up to 15 cents for each vote, depending on their wireless plan. "The sponsorship was a strike of genius on AT&T's part," said Roger Entner, wireless analyst for IAG Research. "The messaging revenue they get from the show is almost pure profit. The cost of servicing a text message is a tiny fraction of a cent, and they're charging what? Fifteen cents a message?"
AT&T, Fox TV and "American Idol's" creators won't discuss how much AT&T pays to sponsor the show, but Entner estimates the messaging revenues — which AT&T also won't reveal — more than cover the expense. Plus, the company reaps additional sales from downloadable content such as ringtones, video and contests that tie in with its sponsorship.
"The revenues were actually the secondary objective for AT&T," said Entner. "The first objective was to teach Americans how to text message — which they did."
"I know that once my mother figured out how to vote with a text message, it didn't take long for her to download her first ringtone," AT&T spokeswoman Jennifer Bowcock said.
ON THEIR BOOKSHELVES
Ryan Seacrest told People magazine "This may be boring to you, but I'm reading 'Judgment of Paris' -- it's about the history of wine tasting. I love wine. I'm building a wine cellar in my new house." ... and Fantasia Barrino said, "Let me be honest -- I hate reading! But I have [learned how]. A friend gave me Billie Holiday's 'Lady Sings the Blues,' and I kid you not. I want to read it. She's an idol, and it's a page-turner. Thank God I'm reading!"
... Speaking of Fantasia, according to SOHH, over $6 million in advance tickets have been sold to "The Color Purple" since it was announced that she would be taking over the part of Celie. She opened in the role on April 10, rehearsing while she had step throat according to MTV. She spent most of the week prior to opening in bed, forbidden by her doctor from talking, let alone singing. On her first full day of rehearsal, opening night was only six days away.
"I started to cry," Fantasia said. "And the doctor was like, 'What are you crying about?' I was like, 'Doctor, I have work to do. I have a big position!' But all the [previous] Celies told me they got sick before they went on, so I think it was just nerves."
You can view her opening night photos at Broadway.com.
PAY ATTENTION PLEASE
TV Guide reports that although Simon Cowell appears to be looking anywhere but the stage during some Idol performances, he claims it is not necessarily a bad reflection on the contestant.
"Half the time, I'm just taunting Paula [Abdul]," said Cowell. "I'll tell her. 'Try to say something interesting,' or 'Do you know what you're gonna say?' I'm basically unbalancing her."
But Cowell adds his critiques are usually spot on because, "I always watch the dress [rehearsal], so I know what to expect already."
TOMORROW'S GUEST PERFORMANCE
A segment taped April 4 featuring Fergie performing her new single, "Big Girls Don't Cry," will air during tomorrow night's one-hour result show, according to TV Guide. The 'zine also said that moments before taping, the Black Eyed Peas diva spotted a familiar face in the audience and called out, "Oh, hi!" explaining to onlookers, "We went to high school together."
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