Hank Williams Jr.'s New Diss Song Is Old
Hank Williams Jr.'s New Diss Song Is Old

CMT Music Awards Producer John Hamlin Talks Show Surprises, Women of Country + More

We're fast approaching one of the biggest nights in country music with the 2012 CMT Music Awards -- a highlight of CMA Music Festival week. The show, airing Wednesday, will be hosted by perennial fan favorite Toby Keith and actress Kristen Bell. According to producer John Hamlin, who is also the network's Senior Vice President, Music Events and Talent, it's a hectic time -- one that gets the adrenaline pumping. "We're a few days out from a big night. There's a lot of moving parts, but it feels good."

Hamlin commented on the fact that some have called the nominations a reflection that the female stars of the format have had a sensational year. "Well, just look at Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, and Miranda Lambert -- all of these women are on fire. They're making great music. Taylor has been on fire for a while, Carrie went away for six months, and has come back strong with 'Good Girl.' It's every awards show producer's dream!"

Jordin Sparks, Carrie Underwood to Present at CMT Awards

Hamlin is also very high on the year that Lambert has had. "Everything Miranda Lambert touches right now turns to gold -- between her solo album and the Pistol Annies. She has her finger on the atmosphere of country music right now. It's one of the top categories in the show, because each nominee is on fire right now," he says.

Underwood will perform on the show, as will Lambert with the Pistol Annies.

The show has also been known to feature the legends, with a special performance from Hank Williams, Jr. Hamlin is sure that Music City will be talking about it. "Hank has a new record coming out in July, and his manager brought us a song from it. It might not even be a single, and that's something that I am very proud of."

Hamlin admitted that radio success sometimes has nothing to do with the decision to include a song on the telecast. "The performances don't always have to be of a current single. It could be a song that comes to us that we fall in love with. In this case, it's an ode to his father that features another country music superstar. It also is going to take place outside the arena, which is something we don't often to do. It's sure to be a highlight of the show."

Other performances during the night will include Rascal Flatts, the Zac Brown Band, and newcomers Lauren Alaina, Casey James, Jana Kramer, Scotty McCreery, Kip Moore and The Farm.

Hamlin enjoys a varied career. In addition to his work with CMT, he also has been behind the scenes on CBS's "60 Minutes." Are there any similarities? Maybe more than you might think.

"In television, regardless of the program, there's always a storyline. There is always a storyline in an award show, much like with a sporting event. You have winners, you have losers. As the evening goes on, you have unexpected moments and surprises, and there's a story that is being told. That's the only commonality of '60 Minutes' and the 'CMT Music Awards.' But, in the end, there is another common thread. If someone who is a viewer to something I am working on, and they don't react, that is a failure. Whether it's a riveting '60 Minutes' investigation or a profile, I want people to react and interact with the story they are seeing."

Hamlin stressed that's the difference between a successful broadcast and one that's not. "That's exactly what you want with an awards show. You want them tapping their foot to the music, and you want them to say wow. That is a common thread that you want to have with any television production. You have to entertain them, inform them, and move them in some way. It's a stretch to compare the two, but there are some elements that are there. It makes me nervous to say that what we do on 60 Minutes is entertaining them, but you certainly want to engage them," he tells us.

The 2012 CMT Music Awards airs Wednesday, June 6 at 8pm EST / 7pm CST.