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THE CMA AWARDS

SHOW SECRETS

THE MAN BEHIND THE ZINGERS SHARES HIS FAVORITE GAGS-AND THE JOKES THAT CHOKED

The formula for funny at the CMA Awards is simple: "We track human stupidity-including our own!" jokes David Wild, who pens the show's patter with five-time hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood. Sometimes the silly is sublime, like last year's Tim and Faith Barbies bit where the hosts discovered Tim's doll was less than well-endowed. In other cases, it's better left unsaid, like Wild's notion for a song about gay marriage called "I Saw Todd Today," to the tune of George Strait's "I Saw God Today." "Brad will never stop punishing me for that one," says Wild, who's also written for the Emmys, Grammys and Oscars. "Luckily the bad ideas get snuffed." One of the most outlandish was Brad's own. To introduce Taylor Swift's 2010 performance of "Back to December," a song rumored to be an apology to actor Taylor Lautner (who plays a werewolf in the Twilight films), Paisley wanted to bring a live wolf onstage. "We looked into getting a domesticated wolf dressed in a tattered T-shirt on a leash," Paisley says. "Then I was gonna tell him to 'Man up, it's not even a full moon. Face her like a human.' Needless to say, that didn't quite make it up the flagpole."



BFFs SINCE CHILDHOOD

Kellie Pickler Shaves Her Head-for a Friend

When Pickler's best friend Summer Miller was diagnosed with breast cancer, the pals made a pact: Before Miller began chemo treatments, they'd both shave their heads. "Being able to do that with her was one of the most beautiful moments of my life," Pickler said in September. Besides, she added, "it's just hair!"



COUNTRY COUSINS

Take BILLY RAY CYRUS

WITH SPIKEY HAIR, COOL SHADES and just the right amount of scruff and you get...

GEORGE MICHAEL



STAR STYLE

Shelton Family Bling

Blake isn't the only talented Shelton in the family! His sister Endy (left) designs colorful beaded necklaces, earrings and bracelets from her Oklahoma home. "I create pieces with lots of different people in mind, including myself," she says. "My favorite part of creating jewelry is knowing someone out there will be wearing it, showing it off and getting compliments on it. That thought makes me very proud."

SILVER COUNTRY NECKLACE, $34; endydesigns.com



COUNTRY ON TV

Set Your DVRs to Country!

CHECK OUT THE STARS HITTING THE SMALL SCREEN THIS FALL

NASHVILLE

Wednesdays

10 p.m. ET on ABC

Kimberly Williams-Paisley guest stars on the new drama in a recurring role. "Y'all, I'm working in my hometown!!" she tweeted of her new gig. She plays a former coworker-and old flame-of Eric Close's Teddy Conrad, husband of reigning country queen Rayna James, played by Connie Britton.



CMT CROSSROADS

Friday, Nov. 23

11 p.m. ET on CMT

Randy Travis takes the stage with folk rock trio the Avett Brothers.



CHRISTMAS IN THE BLACK HILLS

Thursday, Nov. 29

10 p.m. ET on GAC

Big & Rich head to Deadwood, S.Dak., with Thompson Square, the Farm and Tracy Lawrence for this special, which first aired last year.



CMT ARTISTS OF THE YEAR

Saturday, Dec. 8

11 p.m. ET on CMT

Now in its third year, the show plans to keep honorees a surprise until the evening's event. Past CMT honorees have included Jason Aldean and Taylor Swift.



AMERICAN COUNTRY AWARDS

Monday, Dec. 10

8 p.m. ET on FOX

Trace Adkins and Kristin Chenoweth return as hosts for this award show, in its third year. Luke Bryan tops the list of nominees.



PLUS MORE COUNTRY TO COME!

Jennifer Nettles is expected back to host ABC's CMA Country Christmas, and NBC will offer up a new Blake Shelton holiday special.



SARA EVANS

CELEBRITY Dream ANALYSIS

SARA EVANS DREAMED IT, WE HAD IT ANALYZED

THE DREAM

"I had a dream I was with my brother Matt in my dressing room, and he told me his wife was pregnant. And a few weeks later, we found out that she really is pregnant! But Matt and I have always had a weird connection. The day before I got hit by a car, he had this premonition that something was going to happen to me."



THE ANALYSIS

"Sara's dream is what is called a prophetic or precognitive dream," says dream coach Paula Scardamalia of diviningthemuse.com. "In many cultures, dreams are honored as an important source of guidance for daily living, but they're a resource that most of us dismiss and in doing so lose the most accurate guidance system we could ask for. Sara is receiving valuable information about herself and her family through her dreams. It's a good reason to pay attention to them."



EDITORS' PICKS

7 THINGS WE LOVE!

CARRIE AND KITTENS, LOW-CAL COCKTAILS, CHRISTMAS CHEER AND MORE OF OUR FAVE THINGS THIS MONTH

HALL of FAME

CALENDAR

Spend the year with Miranda, Keith, Blake and Brad and learn what happened in country music history on your birthday!

$13.99, countrymusichalloffame.com



CARRIE'S ANIMAL ATTRACTION

What's Carrie's can't-miss stop when she's home visiting family in Checotah, Okla.? The animal shelter, where she doles out TLC to homeless pets. On a recent trip she was smitten with these kittens!



COUNTRY GIRL

Cocktails

In margarita, lemonade or peach sweet tea flavors, these premixed drinks are also low-cal.

$13.99 for 750ml bottle, available at retail stores



THE SANTA TRAIN

Now in its 70th year, the train makes 14 stops in Appalachia to hand out donated toys. Thompson Square's Keifer and Shawna Thompson will ride along to pass out gifts for their second year. "Sharing a piece of Christmas with the children is a memory we'll never forget," Shawna said.



COUNTRY E-CARDS

Declare your love for Luke or proclaim that you're bonkers for Brantley with these superfan e-calling cards-perfect for posting to Pinterest or Facebook. Create your own or steal a great idea: someecards.com



DOLLY SLOTS!

HERE'S YOUR CHANCE TO TRY YOUR LUCK WITH DOLLY: THE COUNTRY MUSIC MOGUL JUST UNVEILED A LINE OF SLOT MACHINES WITH HER LIKENESS. THE BEST PART? A BUILT-IN JUKEBOX THAT PLAYS HER HITS AND RECORDINGS OF DOLLY CHEERING YOU ON.



A CARTER FAMILY COMIC

With songs like "Keep on the Sunny Side" and "Can the Circle Be Unbroken," the Carter Family became country's first superstars in the Depression. This new graphic novel tells the story of Maybelle and her kin.



PASSAGES

INDUCTED

Darius Rucker was invited to join the Grand Ole Opry. The singer was doing a Q&A with the Opry audience Oct. 2 when pal Brad Paisley surprised Rucker with a two-part question: "Are you still the worst poker player in the world?" and "Would you like to be the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry?" A clearly flustered Rucker, 46, asked, "You're kidding me? Tonight? Really?" When he finally answered "Yes, I would," Paisley, 40, announced, "Welcome him home, everybody, this is his new home!"

• Garth Brooks, 50, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on Oct. 21. The singer, who wraps his one-man show at the Wynn Las Vegas hotel Nov. 17, now plans to make a film of the Vegas show.



AWARD

Punch Brothers mandolinist Chris Thile, 31, won a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" on Oct. 1. The $500,000 no-strings-attached prize recognizes Thile's compositions and originality in fusing bluegrass and other musical genres. On Twitter, Steve Martin called Thile a "mandolin player extraordinaire and musical innovator."



RECOVERING

LeAnn Rimes (inset), 30, who on Aug. 29 voluntarily checked herself into a rehabilitation facility for treatment for stress and anxiety, is back home, and on her website thanked her fans for their "support and understanding."

• Highway 101's Michael Scott "Cactus" Moser, 55, lost his left leg as a result of a motorcycle accident Aug. 18 in Deadwood, S.D. The drummer, who tied the knot with Wynonna Judd in June, is recovering at home, and Judd said in a statement: "The outpouring of prayer and support from friends, family and fans has been a blessing. ... Cactus is a champion. I love him deeply and I will not leave his side."



EXPECTING

The Eli Young Band will soon have a new fan. Bassist Jon Jones, 32, announced that he and wife Sarah, 29, are expecting a baby boy in December and "are busy getting our house ready."



MARRIED

Edens Edge singer Hannah Blaylock, 26, and her longtime beau Justin Wakefield, 27, married in Fayetteville, Ark., on Sept. 30. The down-home wedding included a reception in a rustic barn, music performed by family members and Arkansas-made wine.



ENGAGED

They say you should say it with roses, and that was how John Danks, 27, asked Pistol Annies singer Ashley Monroe, 26, to be his wife. Danks, a pitcher with the Chicago White Sox, used red rose petals to spell out "WILL YOU MARRY ME" on their bed, and afterward Monroe happily tweeted, "I said yes... IM ENGAGED TO MY JOHN DANKS!!!! BEST NIGHT OF MY LIFE!!!!," and showed off both Danks's romantic handiwork and the sparkling rock he slipped on her finger.