“We Went Right to Dierks,” Say ACM Awards Bosses

Details on Filling Blake Shelton’s Co-Hosting Boots

I assumed that when Blake Shelton decided to opt out of his Academy of Country Music Awards co-hosting duties after the 2015 show, the producers would have put together a long, long list of potential replacements. Then they’d narrow that list down to a solid group of hopefuls. Then maybe they’d call some artists in for interviews. Then they’d finally choose one and hope all the stars aligned.

I was so wrong.

During a conference call on Tuesday (March 29) with the men behind the awards show — Barry Adelman, R.A. Clark, Bob Romeo and Jack Sussman — I asked who else was on the list of possible partners for Luke Bryan.

“Nobody,” they told me.

Dierks Bentley was their first and only choice. Fortunately, he said yes, which made their job a lot easier.

It will also make Bryan’s job easier, considering his friendship with Bentley.

“It just so happens that Dierks Bentley and Luke Bryan are extremely close friends, on and offstage,” Adelman said. “So these guys go hunting together, they go fishing together, they spend time together. And Dierks is a pilot and very often he gives Luke a lift to concerts that they’re doing together.”

Adelman added that the two have a terrific chemistry between them.

“And (Dierks) is tremendously enthused. He’s working very hard. We think it’ll be a very special bro moment,” he said.

The ACM Awards air on Sunday night live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.