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October 24, 2014

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Photos: 2014 ACM Awards garners strong ratings for CBS; Jerry Jones defends move to Cowboys Stadium

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Steve Marcus

The Band Perry in the photo room at the 49th Academy of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Las Vegas. The group won the award for Vocal Group of the Year.

2014 Academy of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand

Florida Georgia Line arrives at the 2014 Academy of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

2014 ACM Awards: Arrivals

Taylor Swift takes a selfie with a fan as she arrives for the 49th Academy of Country Music Awards show at the MGM Grand Garden Arena Sunday, April 6, 2014. Launch slideshow »

2014 ACM Awards: Photo Room

George Strait, winner of the Entertainer of the Year award, poses in the photo room during the 49th Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena Sunday, April 6, 2014. Launch slideshow »

More than 14 million viewers tuned in to Sunday night’s 2014 Academy of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena and Mandalay Bay, giving CBS a big ratings victory. Additionally, even more viewers in Australia and Canada tuned in to the mega-star show, giving Las Vegas extraordinary worldwide promotion.

Co-hosts Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan were comedy cut-ups for a second consecutive year and really let the zingers fly leveled at other stars. They were immediately signed to repeat hosting duties for next year’s 50th anniversary ACM Awards, which is at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, outside Dallas.

CBS was No. 1 for the primetime block with the key 18-to-49 demographic and total viewers. ABC was next with 7 million, while NBC, with “Dream Builders,” was crushed with only 3 million.

The glamour of glitzy gowns and sparkling suits began on the red carpet mid-afternoon, and fans, some of whom lined up as early as 8 a.m., weren’t disappointed with the mega-watt turnout. The stars waded into the crowds for autographs, photographs and selfies. Our contributing photographer Tom Donoghue and videographer Richard Corey captured it all, as did Steve Marcus of the Las Vegas Sun:

For a live blog from Sunday, check out Editor at Large John Katsilometes’ The Kats Report and my Twitter @robin_leach.

Highlights for me included the opening number of “Chainsaw” by The Band Perry, who shot a mix of confetti and sawdust from a cannon that slightly misfired, hitting the just-done ’dos of Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift. “This is not a Head and Shoulders’ commercial!” quipped Luke.

Plus the spectacular Nitro Circus BMX bikers’ somersault stunts over the heads of Florida Georgia Line and Luke singing “This Is How We Roll” at Fan Jam at Mandalay Bay Events Center during a cut-in. And the teary speech from Justin Moore named New Artist of the Year after six years of struggling.

The big, edge-of-the-seat drama was the fan voting for Entertainer of the Year, which went to George Strait, the legendary veteran who told us backstage that he’s now taking a year off from his career after wrapping up his farewell tour with “The Cowboy Rides Away.” The last date is June 7 at AT&T Stadium, or Cowboys Stadium, as it is home to the Dallas Cowboys. More than 100,000 tickets have been sold for the concert featuring George, Miranda Lambert, Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney and Eric Church.

The 30-year “King of Country” said that he will record a new album after the break and do concert dates, but on a much more limited basis. So it’s not a full retirement!

Las Vegas has successfully played host to the awards for years, so it was a surprise when it was announced that the 50th anniversary ACM Awards would move to Cowboys Stadium, which is owned by billionaire Jerry Jones.

When he was introduced to the MGM Grand Garden Arena audience, there was a chorus of boos much like a day earlier when he had been booed in his own stadium at the NCAA Final Four game. Blake and Luke needled business-mogul Jerry: “You don’t see many awards shows in Cowboys Stadium,” said Blake, and Luke added his salvo: “You don’t see any playoff games there, either!”

Here’s what the 71-year-old Dallas Cowboys owner told me about his plans for the ACM Awards next year relocating from Las Vegas to Arlington:

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones

Earlier in the week, TV execs told me that they would look at Las Vegas locations to possibly include as a satellite remote for The Big D show. My colleague John pinned down ACM CEO Bob Romeo later to repeat his promise to return to Las Vegas in 2016 — and his hope to hold the 51st awards as the first major event at the new MGM arena under construction behind Monte Carlo and New York-New York.

Meantime, our Dallas corporate rivals are wasting no time getting ready for the 50th, and Blake and Luke will co-host the honors for country music’s finest on Sunday, April 19, 2015. The next ACM Party for a Cause will be April 17-18, 2015, at Globe Life Park in Arlington, home of the Texas Rangers. Tickets go on sale Thursday, and ACM officials expect it will be sold by Monday.

No word yet as to where Fan Jam, which was at Mandalay Bay Events Center over the weekend, will be held next year.

ACM STAR SURVEILLANCE

In addition to Fan Jam, the celebrity golf tournament hosted by Darius Rucker and the archery event hosted by Luke, country stars were at the three nights of Party for a Cause in the shadows of the Linq and its new High Roller observation wheel attraction.

Spotted around town: husband-and-wife duo Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert were at Wolfgang Puck’s Cut in Palazzo for lobster and rib eye; singer-songwriter Hunter Hayes was just a few seats away from Olivia Newton-John at Sir Elton John’s “Million Dollar Piano” in Caesars Palace; and The Band Perry, who spent 11 days on the Strip, also watched Elton’s show.

Click to enlarge photo

Kevin James, Donna Wasson, Carrie Underwood, Carol Underwood (Carrie’s mother) and Ray Romano at the Mirage’s Aces of Comedy Show with Ray Romano and Kevin James on Friday, April 4, 2014.

2014 ACM Awards

2014 ACM Awards

Carrie Underwood took her mother, Carol, and other family friends to see Aces of Comedy headliners Ray Romano and Kevin James in their show at the Mirage. Carrie, who stuck to Fiji water, went backstage afterward to pose for a photograph with the comics.

The evening’s biggest honor went to George Strait as Entertainer of the Year, with a record-breaking 1.5 million fan votes cast. It was the first time online voting was open to fans in Australia and Canada. Merle Haggard was honored with the Crystal Milestone Award, presented by Garth Brooks and celebrated with a tribute performance featuring Miranda Lambert and George.

Jason Aldean won Male Vocalist of the Year, his second consecutive win in the category. He has won a total of 7 ACM Awards. Miranda won for the fifth consecutive year as Female Vocalist of the Year and is now the record holder for the most consecutive wins in that category. She was the leading female winner of the night with a total of three, also taking the prize for Single Record of the Year for “Mama’s Broken Heart” and Vocal Event of the Year for “We Were Us.”

The Band Perry won their first Vocal Group of the Year award and their third ACM Award. Florida Georgia Line won Vocal Duo of the Year, their first win in the category and third overall ACM Award. Justin Moore received his first-ever ACM Award for New Artist of the Year in the only other fan-voted category.

Kacey Musgraves, in an elegant blue gown, won Album of the Year as the artist and producer for “Same Trailer, Different Park,” her first-ever win. Keith was the leading male winner of the night with three trophies in two categories. Before the telecast, Urban took the prize for Video of the Year as artist for “Highway Don’t Care” with Tim McGraw and Taylor Swift. He also won Vocal Event of the Year as artist and producer for “We Were Us.”

Here is the full list of winners: Entertainer of the Year, George Strait; Male Vocalist of the Year, Jason Aldean; Female Vocalist of the Year, Miranda Lambert; Vocal Duo of the Year, Florida Georgia Line; Vocal Group of the Year, The Band Perry; New Artist of the Year, Justin Moore; Album of the Year, “Same Trailer, Different Park” Kacey Musgraves (producers Luke Laird, Shane McAnally and Kacey Musgraves); and Single Record of the Year, “Mama’s Broken Heart,” Miranda Lambert (producers Chuck Ainlay, Frank Liddell and Glenn Worf).

Also, Song of the Year, “I Drive Your Truck,” Lee Brice (songwriters Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington and Jimmy Yeary); Video of the Year, “Highway Don’t Care,” Tim McGraw featuring Taylor Swift and Keith Urban (producers Tameron Hedge and Chandra LaPlume); and Vocal Event of the Year, “We Were Us,” Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert (producers Nathan Chapman and Keith Urban).

Tonight is the taping of “ACM Presents: Salute to the Troops” at MGM Grand Garden Arena and set to air May 20 on CBS. It will be hosted by “NCIS Los Angeles” stars LL Cool J and Chris O’Donnell, and Dierks Bentley, Lee Brice, Hunter Hayes, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, Kellie Pickler and Keith Urban have been added to the star-studded lineup.

They join Merle Haggard, George Strait, Carrie Underwood, Florida Georgia Line, Lady Antebellum and The Band Perry honoring America’s remarkable servicemen and servicewomen. The special will include stories of incredible bravery and integrity.

Check back to Vegas DeLuxe on Tuesday for a report and photos.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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