Fine Tuning - Weekly column highlighting music on TV during the week of Oct. 3-9, 2003.
It's a big week for country music with Wednesday night's 37th annual Country Music Association (CMA) Awards as the centerpiece. As you would expect, it's a pretty massive affair, held at Nashville's Grand Ole Opry with Vince Gill hosting for the 12th consecutive year. I guess he's pretty good at it and people like him, so why not make it an even dozen, right?
Country music legends Carl Smith and the late Floyd Cramer will be formally inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame during the show, which will be packed with performances. Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett will perform their hit "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" to open the event, which will also see pairings by the likes of Little Jimmy Dickens with Brad Paisley on the latter's "Celebrity" and Dolly Parton, Norah Jones and Rhonda Vincent on an unannounced song.
Sure to be a highlight of the show will be a tribute to Johnny Cash featuring Sheryl Crow, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Travis Tritt and Hank Williams Jr. Others slated to perform are Gary Allan, Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney, Terri Clark, Buddy Jewell, Toby Keith, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Patty Loveless, Martina McBride, Tim McGraw, Joe Nichols, Rascal Flatts, Blake Shelton, George Strait, Shania Twain, Darryl Worley and Gill.
In the mornings leading up to the event, Hannah Storm will reports live from the Nashville on CBS' "The Early Show," previewing the big ceremony. On Tuesday, the program will boast a live performance by Gill and Wednesday's show will include an interview Parton.
Early in the week, the Biography channel will get into the swing with country music episodes of A&E's signature "Biography" series. Among the subjects: Cash, McGraw, Loretta Lynn, Jackson, Clint Black, the Dixie Chicks, Glenn Campbell and Hank Williams.
Still in the country theme, check out the pairing of John Mellencamp and Chesney on "CMT Crossroad," premiering Monday night on the cable network. They'll join one another on performances of such songs as "Jack & Diane," "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.," "Live Those Songs" and "Back Where I Come From."
Shifting gears, "BET Nightly News" will take an in-depth look at the still unsolved murder of Run-D.M.C. DJ Jam Master Jay. Launching just days after the one-year anniversary (Oct. 30), the five-part series culls more than 18 hours of interviews with family, friends, police and a key witness present during the slaying in a Queens, N.Y., recording studio.
On a much lighter note, if you tuned into last week's "Monday Night Football" game on ABC to catch the weekly "Monday Night at the Mic" competition, you were disappointed because it was scratched when the game was moved from San Diego to Arizona due to the wildfires. Don't fret though, because Michelle Branch and Atlanta Falcons rookie defensive back Bryan Scott will square off against Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George and Monica this week at halftime during the New England Patriots vs. Denver Broncos game in the latter's Invesco Field at Mile High.
Plus the weekly odd pairing with Hank Williams Jr. on his "Are You Ready For Some Football" theme is worth checking out at the start of the 9 p.m. ET broadcast. This week: Aerosmith.
All week long at various times on various days MTV will be airing the first part of "Diddy Runs the City." The special documents Sean "P. Diddy" Combs' journey to train for the New York City Marathon and raise money for children's charities along the way. Sunday night, the network will begin the cycle with part two.
Sarah McLachlan will be all over during this week and the next it seems. On Monday she'll visit "The Late Show With David Letterman" (CBS), Wednesday the syndicated "Live With Regis & Kelly" and on Friday morning will perform as part of NBC's "Today" concert series in New York's Rockefeller Plaza. Be glad she's back, because she's just wonderful.
And, lastly, whether or not you usually do, be sure to tune into Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor" on Thursday (it was rescheduled twice after this was originally posted) when outspoken artist/political activist Steve Earle will go head to head with the outspoken talk show host. Earle gearing up to join the Tell the Truth tour with such fellow musician/activists Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave), Billy Bragg and others, and the conversation is sure to be both animated and insightful.