Tuesday, April 3, 2012 | 1:23 a.m.
More arts and entertainment
- Check out Robin Leach's VegasDeLuxe.com for more celebrity and A&E coverage.
KISS at the ACM Awards
2012 ACM Awards red carpet
Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw
Scotty McCreery at ACMs
Blake Shelton backstage
Miranda Lambert backstage
Toby Keith backstage
CBS swept the board and came oh-so-close to winning everything in Sunday night’s TV ratings battle. The network won the night with a 2.6 rating, defeating ABC’s 2.1, Fox’s 1.7 and NBC’s 1.6 in the key advertiser 18-to-49 demographic. Overall, CBS also won the night with a big audience lead, with about 13 million viewers tuned in for each of the 3 hours of the 47th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena and Mandalay Bay Events Center and an all-ratings win of 7.5 with a 12 percent share.
It was a very small demographic win for ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” that sneaked in to win its hour with younger viewers during the first hour of the ACMs. Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” with our Rio headliner magician Penn Jillette, competed with a 3-hour special Sunday night and averaged 5 million viewers for the first 2 hours, then increased to 6.5 million viewers in the final hour.
If you’re going to steal the spotlight, you’d better do it the most over-the-top way possible, and that’s exactly what KISS did as they arrived on a giant monster truck at the red carpet of the ACMs. But it was the wedding of two country fans to the music of Martina McBride and Pat Monahan’s “Marry Me” that was the emotional highpoint of the 3-hour, wall-to-wall music spectacular.
“If you’re going to try and steal the show, you’d better do it in a way that nobody will ever forget,” one of the KISS road crew told me. Add to that was the subsequent red carpet mayhem when they posed for photos with rapper and actor LL Cool J and our hometown entertainment legend Wayne Newton.
Was eventual two-time winner Miranda Lambert scowling as she walked arm in arm with hubby Blake Shelton, a first-time winner for Male Vocalist of the Year, as photographers fled en masse to capture KISS? “This is a little difficult,” said Gene Simmons as he struggled with his giant boots to get down the high ladder to the ground and then tottered over with Paul Stanley to high-five fans who’d been waiting since early morning to catch glimpses of the stars.
KISS, in full makeup and costume, had flown in from New Orleans, where they had entertained the Final Four in the NCAA Championships. Rascal Flatts departs from the ACMs to L.A. to perform in Tuesday’s second elimination on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”
Co-hosts Reba McEntire and Blake poked fun at each other good-naturedly right from the start of the show opened by Carrie Underwood’s “Good Girl” and followed by Chris Young’s “Save Water, Drink Beer.” Blake announced that Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney were touring together this summer as “Brothers of the Sun” (no Las Vegas date so far), and I thought, “Country competition vs. KISS and Motley Crue!”
Sugarland (Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush) served as hosts for the live satellite feeds from Mandalay Bay with the Zac Brown Band as the first performers of the second annual Fan Jam. New Artist of the Year nominees Hunter Hayes, Brantley Gilbert and Scotty McCreery, plus the Band Perry and “Hunger Games” hunk Liam Hemsworth, were at Mandalay Bay; Scotty, the reigning “American Idol” champion, kept his winning streak going with the New Artist victory.
This was Reba’s 14th time hosting and the second consecutive year with Blake. She was solo host eight times previously. Two awards were handed out on the red carpet: Toby Keith won Video of the Year for “Red Solo Cup” and Vocal Event of the Year went to Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson for “Don’t You Wanna Stay.” They also won for Single Record of the Year for the same hit.
The first award of the night on the telecast was for Song of the Year, and it went to “Crazy Girl” by the Eli Young Band. Next was Miranda for Album of the Year, her third win in that category. She also won Female Vocalist of the Year for the third consecutive year. KISS was well behaved onstage as they presented the Vocal Group of the Year to Lady Antebellum. Check out ACM’s website for a full list of winners.
Now to that wedding, an ACM first. As a minister from the MGM Forever wedding chapel presided over the vows exchanged by Christina Davidson and Frank Tucci, Martina and Train frontman Pat sang his band’s hit “Marry Me.” The couple met at a widow and widowers support group after the deaths of their spouses.
After the ceremony, the wedding party adjourned to the waiting media to share slices of their wedding cake. After their overnight stay in an MGM suite, Christina and Frank head to their honeymoon at Sandals in the Caribbean. For the finale, it was Lionel Richie and Blake in a duet of “You Are” as a tease for tonight’s CBS taping for the April 13 broadcast of “ACM Presents: Lionel Richie & Friends.”
ACM BACSTAGE HIGHLIGHTS
THEY’RE NOT OVERNIGHT STARS: Song of the Year winners the Eli Young Band explained that they are not overnight stars. They’ve been working on this for 10 years, didn’t have cars, lived together and gave up on the dream. When they heard their name announced, they thought it was an April Fool’s joke.
“We kept going because we bought a guitar for more than $200, replaced the first van with a truck after getting our next $800 from a college gig … and always kept the dream alive to get to tonight. Now we get lots less sleep because the good things keep coming. It opens doors for more opportunities.”
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HILLARY! Among the birthday gifts for Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott: another ACM Award. She says she went to “Le Reve -- the Dream” at WYNN to celebrate her birthday with her new husband. Lady A is touring the U.S. through June, then it’s off to Europe to open for Bruce Springsteen. Then thoughts of babies, she says! “It’s all been so fantastic to us. We’re always happy to return to Las Vegas for the ACMs.”
LAS VEGAS FIRSTS: New Artist winner Scotty performed at Fremont Street Experience for the first time (he also was in town in February opening for Brad Paisley alongside the Band Perry at Mandalay Bay Events Center).
Scotty goes to school Monday through Wednesday, and then tour on weekends with Brad. “I’m not a big-shot kind of guy. Now I’m going off to college [North Carolina State] -- at 18, I have a lot of learning to do. Maybe in another two years, I’ll move out of home and to Nashville on my own.”
THE STUPIDEST SONG Video of the Year winner Toby has called his “Red Solo Cup” the stupidest song he’d ever heard. “It’s my only song that got pop radio play. People thought I was too country. … It’s so stupid, it’s so brilliant!” Toby leaves in two weeks for the new USO tour in Afghanistan, Kuwait and Bahrain and will surpass 200 shows on the 10th anniversary of touring for the military.
UPDATED AT 6 P.M.: Also late this afternoon, ACM President Bob Romeo confirmed to Senior Editor John Katsilometes that the ACMs will be back here in 2013 and 2014, with the 50th anniversary awards at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, just outside Dallas, then returning to Las Vegas in 2016.
Finally, our thanks to Tom Donoghue, Steve Marcus of the Las Vegas Sun and Glenn Pinkerton of Las Vegas New Bureau for their photo galleries and to Richard Corey for his videos posted on YouTube.
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 VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.