Flameworthy Hosts Have Some Tricks Up Their Sleeves

Editor’s Note: Pamela Anderson and Toby Keith host the CMT Flameworthy 2003 Video Music Awards, country music’s first and only video music awards, on Monday (April 7). Fans can vote online through Saturday (April 5), with the exception of the video of the year category. The finalists in this category will not be announced until the live telecast, and viewers will be able to vote on CMT.com. The winner will be announced at the end of the show.

“I’d rather host this than the Grammys or the Oscars, because it’s like real middle America,” said actress Pamela Anderson about the CMT Flameworthy 2003 Video Music Awards. “It’s like the cool thing to do. It’s like the coolest thing we could do right now. It’s just great. A little bit of relief with what’s going on in the world.”

Co-host Toby Keith added, “Any time the fans get to vote and feel a part of it, then it makes it more legit in all ways, really. There are not many awards shows or anything out there that’s completely fan-run.”

Anderson and Toby Keith will co-host the awards live on CMT on Monday (April 7) at 8 p.m. ET. A pre-show party featuring Jennifer Hanson , Montgomery Gentry and Blake Shelton will begin airing at 6:30 p.m. ET.

Asked how they felt about working with each other, Keith said, “I think it’s great because these are two very different personalities and I think this just shows CMT’s edginess.”

Anderson added, “Well, we’re both trouble! So that’s why we’re a good team.”

The CMT Flameworthy 2003 Video Music Awards will also feature live performances by Kenny Chesney , Faith Hill , Alan Jackson , Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow , Tim McGraw , Rascal Flatts and Shania Twain .

“I’ve known Shania probably as long as anybody,” Keith said. Indeed, the two stars launched their spectacular careers on Mercury Records at the same time. “She’s an old friend of mine and I’m glad to see her every time. She sure has set the world on fire.”

“She’s a vegetarian, too, and that’s very cool,” Anderson added.

And before anybody complains that rock stars don’t belong on a country awards show, Keith has a theory. “Well, I think anytime through history, from the ‘50s on up — even if you threw in Johnny Cash doing rockabilly and Elvis doing rockabilly — there’s been a connection between rock and blues and country. Again, it goes back to being just America’s music. … I listen to everything, and I think that country people feel the same way about rap or rock or anything. There’s some of it you like and some of it you don’t.”

Asked about people who inspire him today, Keith answered, “You know, I really don’t get to listen to other people’s stuff. I have such a big career that I don’t have time to really check it out. I hear a few things, but I’m more into listening to things like John Prine [or] Paul Thorn, who I had out on tour with me. I listen to songwriters that do their own thing. I don’t listen to people that would be considered competition or whatever. I just don’t get to hear it that much.”

“A little Kid Rock!” Anderson interjected.

“Yeah, I hear some Kid Rock, but you can’t help it when he comes on your bus and plays you everything that Skynyrd’s ever done,” Keith said.

“I know! Exactly!” Anderson added.

“I knew you’d work Kid Rock into this deal,” Keith joked.

“Well no, but you’ve got to, right? Just kidding!” Anderson replied.

All in all, both hosts are looking forward to the event.

“The reason they’ve got me here is because I do really well on CMT,” Keith said. “But I think that CMT is taking the video thing and country music to another level that it needed to go to. I think they are reaching a lot more people, and I think that this awards show and putting their neck out on the line like this and being ballsy enough to have hosts like thisis great.”

“We’re gonna have some fun,” Anderson exclaimed. “We have a few tricks up our sleeves. A few surprises.”

Alice King contributed to this report.

Craig Shelburne has been writing for CMT.com since 2002. He is also a producer for CMT Edge, Concrete Country and Live @ CMT.