If co-host Brad Paisley had his way, this year’s CMAs might have been a whole lot more controversial.
The country superstar described an opening number that was left on the awards show cutting room floor — because it featured none other than Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump — during his keynote speech at New York’s Billboard Touring & Conference Awards.
2015 CMAs: Best & Worst Moments
“I’m a wannabe stand-up comedian,” Paisley said as a disclaimer before telling the story. He described how he and Carrie Underwood, while working feverishly on an opening monologue, had thought of the idea to modify a country song to make it about current events (his first impulse was to turn Willie Nelson‘s “Crazy” into a modern-day ballad called “Cray Cray”).
Then, Paisley said, they realized that Donald Trump would be the most topical choice to join them in song — so they reached out to him about joining in the opening. When he agreed, he was stuck in New York rehearsing for Saturday Night Live, so Paisley flew to the city to record a version of The Judds‘ “Love Can Build A Bridge” called, “Trump Can Build A Bridge,” which featured Trump as Oz. “Like, I am Trump, the great and powerful,” Paisley said, laughing. During the show, the plan was that Underwood would take the cord to the projector showing the clip and unplug it.
“I guess there were standards and practices and equal time laws,” Paisley said of the reason the clip got cut. “24 hours before, the lawyers said we couldn’t do it.” So they called William Shatner (the most obvious alternative) to help out with the opening monologue (as a storm trooper) instead.
“To have written the last two minutes the monologue Tuesday at midnight…it was stressful,” Paisley concluded, adding that he still has the video.