HOT DISH: Urban, Kidman Confirm Pregnancy Rumor

Thoughts on American Idol and a Call From Jason Michael Carroll

(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 hosts CMT’s Southern Fried Flicks With Hazel Smith and shares her recipes at CMT.com.)

The word that Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman are expecting is no longer a rumor. The couple spoke through their reps saying they are thrilled Nicole is with child. This is her first biological child, although she does have two adopted children — Isabella, 14, and Connor, 12 — with her former husband, actor Tom Cruise. Nicole also suffered a miscarriage during her marriage to Cruise. This is Keith’s first child.

With parents as beautiful as Keith and Nicole, imagine what a beautiful baby they will have. Nicole, who was set to begin work on new movie soon, has changed her professional plans to concentrate on her pregnancy. They married in Sydney, Australia, in June 2006 and have a house and farm south of Nashville near Leipers Fork, Tenn. It would be wonderful if royalty was born in Tennessee.

American Idol Needs Country
I wonder if the powers that be at American Idol realize that if they don’t want to look goofy, they should rewind and rethink. Which Idol contestants have been successful? Not the two winners from Alabama. Gray-haired Taylor Hicks and heavyset Ruben Studdard were both recently dropped from J Records. Katharine McPhee was dropped from her label, RCA, last week. Just released from jail in Florida, former Idol star Jessica Sierra is on her way to rehab. Pretty sad, huh?

Look at the success of Carrie Underwood, an Idol winner whose debut album sold 6 million copies. Her second release is already double platinum. Every record she’s released has been a hit with radio as well as with the fans. Stepping into a new arena, the Checotah, Okla., native co-wrote her last single, “So Small,” and yes, that was her latest chart-topper.

Wouldn’t you think Idol execs would wake up and try to find more success in the arena where they were successful? Country music has made that show look like they know what they are doing. By the way, Carrie will be co-headlining Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Carnival Ride tour with Keith Urban beginning Jan. 31. Between the Keith tour, she also will headline her own Carnival Ride tour with special guest Josh Turner.

American Idol finalists Kellie Pickler and Bucky Covington are out there making a name for themselves. Kellie’s first self-titled album is gold, and she has opened shows for Brad Paisley. The Albemarle, N.C., native visited the troops in the Middle East during the holidays and is in demand on television where her humor and fun-loving personality comes shining through. Her performance on the CMA Awards of her self-penned “I Wonder” was head and shoulders above most acts on the show. Kellie reminds me of a young Dolly Parton. Watch her smoke.

Covington, a talent from Rockingham, N.C., became a critics’ favorite out of the box when his self-titled debut CD kissed the Billboard chart at No. 1 when it was released. The Miami Herald selected Bucky’s album as the most heartfelt, honest CD to come out of the American Idol factory. He was named Country Aircheck‘s top new artist of 2007. Early this year, Bucky is scheduled to tour with Trace Adkins and later with Dierks Bentley on his Throttle Wide Open tour. Tall and skinny, Bucky reminds me of Hank.

No, Kelly Clarkson is not country, but her friend and her manager are. Kelly is managed by Reba McEntire’s husband, Narvel Blackstock. Of course, you know Kelly did a song on the Reba Duets album.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a wonderful country adage I learned from the wonderful comic, the late Minnie Pearl. Maybe American Idol should give some thought to the saying before they hit the highways in search of stars. If it was me, I believe I’d be looking at country.

Jason Michael Carroll Calls
Had a delightful phone call from Jason Michael Carroll who’d been visiting family near Raleigh, N.C., where he’s built a new house. Jason’s house was completed right after Thanksgiving, so family and friends had to follow his instructions for purchasing furniture and finishing up the place. He worked on the road right up until Dec. 16 before finally arriving home. Jason told me since his house was the biggest, the entire family celebrated Christmas at his place.

Arriving back in Tennessee last week, Jason, a former Marine reservist, traveled to Chattanooga, Tenn., where he delivered a surprise performance for the 150 Marines who were packed and ready to ship out for two months of training before deployment to Iraq. A luncheon with the families followed. I hear there wasn’t a dry eye when Jason sang an a cappella version of “Proud to Be an American” and “The Marines’ Hymn.”

Look for Jason on Good Morning America on Thursday (Jan. 17).

Golly Moses, Garth and George
The hardest working retiree on planet Earth, Garth Brooks, is scheduled to appear on March 5 to jump-start this year’s Country Radio Seminar in Nashville. During the event, Garth will answer audience questions submitted to moderator Gerry House, the morning show host for Nashville radio station WSIX-FM. It was Garth’s idea for one lucky program or music director from radio to come up and sing a song with him as the support musician to kick off the show. Lordy me, most of those radio people can’t even hum –much less sing.

On March 7, the great George Jones will be featured at CRS on the “Life of a Legend” panel discussion with record producer Norro Wilson, who produced five of Jones’ albums. Expect Jones, who is one of the most influential singers of all time, to tell his epic story and answer questions submitted by the audience.

Little Big Town Storking
Congratulations to Little Big Town’s Phillip Sweet and wife Rebecca on the birth of their baby girl, Penelopi Jane. Born in Music Town, she weighed 6 pounds 4 ounces.

Montgomery Gentry in the Rockies
Montgomery Gentry will headline the 14th annual Country in the Rockies music and skiing event Jan. 23-27 at Steamboat Springs, Colo. Proceeds from the event go to the T.J. Martell Foundation and the Frances Williams Preston Research Lab at Vanderbilt University’s Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville.

Whisperin’ Bill and the Gov
Country Music Hall of Famer and award-winning (and wealthy) songwriter Bill Anderson will be inducted into the Kappa Sigma Fraternity’s Hall of Fame on Feb. 2 in Atlanta. Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue will make the presentation which is awarded exclusively to University of Georgia grads who have made a mark in their chosen profession. I’d say my friend Bill Anderson has made his mark as a singer, songwriter, entertainer and a dadgum great human being.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Ooey Gooey Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cake.