HOT DISH: Who Is Keith Urban Kissing Now?

Did Renee and Nicole Swap Notes While Filming Cold Mountain?

(CMT Hot Dish is a weekly feature written by veteran columnist Hazel Smith. Author of the cookbook, Hazel’s Hot Dish: Cookin’ With Country Stars, she also shares her recipes at

Rumor has it the man who was kissing me just two weeks ago, pretty Keith Urban, is seeing actress Nicole Kidman. By now, maybe you have seen a photo of the twosome.

Let me ask: Are hillbillies and movie stars becoming a trend? How did Keith and Kidman meet? Is it possible Renee Zellweger — the wife of Keith’s friend, Kenny Chesney — told her Cold Mountain co-star, “Kidman, you should see this Keith dude that’s opening Kenny’s shows. C-u-t-e.” Make sense?

What do Keith and Kidman have in common? Well, let’s see. … Both are native Australians. Keith is short but not as short as Kidman’s ex, Tom Cruise. Both probably like the three K’s — kangaroos, koalas and kissing!

Where does Gap fit into this picture? While wearing his fave Gap’s Easy Fit jeans during the company’s August ad campaign, Urban chose the song “Most People Think I’m Crazy” as his theme for the TV and print ads. His Gap commercial will run during the MTV Video Music Awards on Aug. 28.

Father and Son
The spitting image of his handsome daddy, Alabama lead singer Randy Owen, Heath Owen is interning this summer at his dad’s record label, RCA.

Let us never forget it was Randy Owen the late Danny Thomas persuaded to journey to Memphis, Tenn., to visit the sick children at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Then Randy urged RCA Label Group chief Joe Galante to drive to Memphis. Pretty soon, RCA issued a Christmas record to benefit St. Jude. It took root, and now those good hearts at country radio present annual radiothons virtually all over this land to raise money for the hospital. The Owen son will live to see a cure for those dread diseases that ravage the lives of little children. He can be proud of his daddy for putting wings on the dreams of Danny Thomas, who founded St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Daughter and Mama and Dad
Carlene Carter did a splendid job portraying her mother, June Carter Cash, in Wildwood Flowers: The June Carter Cash Story, the musical production that closed Sunday (July 31) at the BellSouth Acuff Theatre in Nashville. Co-written and co-produced by Angela Bennett, the show tells the story of Mother Maybelle Carter and the Carter Sisters from the time June was a pre-teen until she co-penned “Ring of Fire” with Merle Kilgore.

When I saw the production, Carlene stayed in character until it closed with “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” She became saddened and teary when she said, “I miss Mama [June], Grandma [Mother Maybelle], my sister Rosie, Aunt Helen, Aunt Anita and Goldie.” Goldie Hill, who died this year of cancer, was the wife of Carlene’s dad, Country Music Hall of Fame member Carl Smith.

Backstage after the show, I told Carlene how nice it was to mention Goldie. She replied, “Goldie is the reason I am close with my dad. I have a great relationship with Daddy because of Goldie.”

Kilgore Dotted the “I” for a Friend
And speaking of the late Merle Kilgore, when someone asked him how he was doing, he would wave both hands in your face to display the gold and diamonds on his fingers and repeat, “How’m I doin’? How’m I doin’?” Merle let his rings do the talking.

Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn got a call from Mrs. Merle Kilgore for a meeting. Kilgore was a CMA board member and Brooks the retiring CMA president, so Kix thought it was to reminisce. When he got to the Kilgore home in Paris, Tenn., Merle’s jeweler was also present. Before he died, Merle requested that some of his jewelry be melted down and cast into a ring that spelled “K-I-X” with a diamond dotting the “I.” Kix is proudly wearing the ring.

Hall of Fame Releasing Vintage Videos
From behind the scenes in the archives at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, some long-unseen performances from classic country TV shows will be making their way to DVD, video-on-demand, streaming and podcasting. The programs include Johnny Cash’s Christmas shows, 64 episodes of Town Hall Party and 75 episodes of Ozark Jubilee. The Hall of Fame has partnered with LSL Productions and Tremolo Productions to bring new life to these and other marvelous features to be offered to the public. These vintage performances are why we are here today talking about country music and another reason all of us need to be grateful to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum for preserving this wonderful history of the genre. Support the Hall of Fame.

More Mindy Headlines
Mindy McCready reportedly left a four-page suicide note before a booze and drug overdose at a Florida Holiday Inn where she was found unconscious in the lobby. The singer was released after an overnight stay in a hospital. She had been scheduled to appear in a Williamson County courtroom in Tennessee for a probation violation hearing. Her probation stemmed from her guilty plea in 2004 for forging a fraudulent prescription to purchase the drug, Oxycontin. Bill McKnight, the “former boyfriend” charged with attempted murder in May when McCready claimed he ambushed her at her home in Nashville, was with the singer in Florida. Meanwhile, McCready is charged in Arizona with hindering prosecution and unlawful use of transportation.

Hillbilly Casts
How is Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry performing in a cast up to his hip with his leg that was crushed two weeks ago? He’s seated in a barber chair with his injured leg elevated at a 45-degree angle, per doctor’s orders. Eddie Montgomery, still in a cast from breaking his wrist a while back, just circles his partner onstage, and the show goes on. That’s how!

Strong Hearted Willie
Willie Nelson and the late Waylon Jennings wrote and sang about a good-hearted woman loving a good-timing man. Today, I’ve concluded we need to sing about “strong-hearted Willie watching a barely-clothed girl.” One of the kids wanted me to watch Jessica Simpson’s video of “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’.” While Simpson is wearing barely enough clothes to hide her private parts, there’s grizzled and grinning Willie singing and picking along. How in the name of God can a 72-year old man not go into cardiac arrest staring at such? Could it be Willie has had a lot of practice? I mean, it does not appear to be the first time he’s seen a young thing. … Maybe I will go see The Dukes of Hazzard movie starring Willie and Jessica and Burt Reynolds and leave it at that.

Crystal Gayle Honored
Loretta Lynn is a famous Kentuckian, but younger sister Crystal Gayle spent most of her youth in Indiana where she and her mother moved when she was young. The Indiana Historical Society recently honored Crystal with the Living Legend Award for her contributions to the state. While in Indiana, Crystal and husband Bill Gatzimos attended their 35th class reunion.

Short Stories
I received a call from Terri Clark’s office to verify my address. Does that mean I’m getting a wedding invitation?

Brad Paisley is the first and only country picker to appear on the cover of Guitar One magazine.

Yep, I am jealous of Steve Azar. Not because his song, “Doin’ It Right,” is chart climbing but because he has a sponsor, Exxon and Mobil. It takes almost $37 to gas up my car, and it would be music to my ears if I had Azar’s sponsor.

Lo and behold, they should have known what was going to happen when they put Tim McGraw tickets on sale at the Hollywood Bowl for an Oct. 8 performance. According to the report I got, 14,000 of the 18,000 available seats were gone in half an hour. McGraw is now the only thrillbilly to sell out that famous venue.

Keith Urban’s former gal pal, model Nikki Taylor, is suing two California companies — Irene Group Inc. and Fortune Hills International — for using her photos from 1998 to promote their bath and beauty products. Taylor has her own line of beauty products set for release this fall.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Chess Cake Bars.