Editor’s note: Katie Cook’s interview with Reba McEntire airs Saturday (June 24) at 1:30 p.m. ET/PT on CMT Insider.
She’s enjoyed an eventful life, but last month could be among the most memorable times for Reba McEntire. In the space of just 30 days, she began her residency as a headliner in the main theater at the Las Vegas Hilton and hosted the ACM Awards show. Her TV sitcom was canceled — and then it wasn’t. And she also got a surprise when she found herself mentioned in a Time magazine cover story on the Dixie Chicks.
In the Time story promoting the Chicks’ new album, band member Martie Maguire said the group prefers to attract fans who “will grow with us as we grow and are fans for life, than people that have us in their five-disc changer with Reba McEntire and Toby Keith. … We don’t want those kinds of fans.”
Noting that she doesn’t understand the reasons for the comment, McEntire tells CMT Insider’s Katie Cook, “I’ve never bashed them. On the awards show, the ACMs two years ago, I said, ’Well, I guess the Dixie Chicks won’t be performing at the Bush family reunion.’ And I didn’t think that was a bash.
“But after they did come out in Time magazine and said that about Toby and me, I was very glad that I had the written script about me being nervous doing the  awards show [where] I said, ’I don’t know why I was so nervous. I guess if the Dixie Chicks can sing with their foot in their mouth, surely I can host this sucker.’ And I was ready to say that because I hope they realize that they’re not doing themselves any favors.”
McEntire says she is “very disappointed” in the Chicks’ apparent attitude toward the country music community.
“I’ve never turned my back on country music,” she says. “So when somebody talks bad about my music, my family, that does not set well with me. And when you bite the hand that feeds you, I just don’t think that’s very nice.”
Describing it as a “very bad situation,” McEntire adds, “I feel for the girls. I really do. I don’t think they understand how many people are out there in the world who would love their situation and their spot on the radio and on the concert tour.”
Although the Dixie Chicks are revising their tour schedule amid reports of slow ticket sales, McEntire has been forced to cancel three nights of appearances at the Las Vegas Hilton so she can work on her sitcom that will now be broadcast on the new CW network.
“I’ve never understood the television business, to tell you the truth,” McEntire says. “But they were going to cancel it — and then they decided to keep us. UPN and the WB merged to make CW. … They told us that they would take us for 13 episodes as a mid-season replacement. Evidently, that means if some of their shows fall out, we’ll come and pitch in, I guess.”
McEntire continues her run of Las Vegas dates with shows July 19-23 and July 26-30.
“It’s funny how many people will come to Vegas to see your show where they might not come out to see you unless you come to their hometown,” she says. “But here in Las Vegas, I’ve had more family members and friends come in, so I’m visiting all day long and singing at night.”
Explaining the difference in performing to audiences in Las Vegas, McEntire says, “When I go their hometown, they come to see me — whether it’s an arena, a fair, a coliseum or a private show. … When they come to Las Vegas, they have a billion choices to make. Are they going to gamble? Are they going to go eat at a nice restaurant? Are they going to see one of the million shows here in Las Vegas? … You better be up there entertaining because they can turn around and walk right back out and go find some other way of being entertained. So the stakes are high.”