The Seat-Filler Diaries: What It’s Really Like to Sit with Stars

All the Little Moments You Don't See on TV

Eight years ago this this week, Alison Bonaguro took a seat inside the artist section at the CMT Music Awards. Today, as all the country fans and county stars get ready to head into the Bridgestone Arena for tonight’s show, we’re sharing her archived story about what can happen when you sign up to be a seat filler. This year’s CMT Music Awards will be broadcast live from Nashville on Wednesday night (June 5) at 8 p.m. ET.

My eyes should have been glued to the stage at the CMT Music Awards, but instead I had the chance to be a seat filler. You know, the ones who go sit where Shania Twain was sitting when she left her seat to go present an award? Since I had this view of all the singers and bands, that’s what I watched instead. Like how Gary LeVox’s daughter seemed a little antsy knowing that Justin Bieber was just three seats away. Even American Idol runner-up Lauren Alaina seemed a little giddy when Bieber was having his picture taken below the seats, and she kept peeking over the wall to watch.

I noticed how chummy Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman seemed with Sugarland. And frankly, with each other. Watching them talk and laugh and hold hands made me want to fall in love all over again. I watched how protective LeVox was with Bieber, keeping his arm around him in a half-dad, half-bodyguard kind of way. I noticed that when The Band Perry was singing “You Lie,” Urban, Kristian Bush and Shania Twain’s husband Frédéric Thiébaud were dancing in their seats a little. Then when Luke Bryan performed “Country Girl (Shake It for Me),” Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley and his wife Cassie stood and danced the entire time. That was the same treatment they gave to Colt Ford and Dallas Davidson when they did “Country Thang.”

Gary Busey stood for the first half of Big & Rich’s performance, then sat back down maybe when he realized he was the only one on his feet. The Band Perry seemed to love Zac Brown Band’s performance, because I saw them all tapping their feet and doing that upper-body dance you do when you’re sitting down. Then when Sugarland did their big anthem, “Stand Up,” Little Big Town actually did and brought the rest of the stars to their feet.

A few stars were yawning, texting, chit-chatting and having their drinks refilled by the talent escorts, but I won’t name names. For the most part, the stars seemed to love the show as much as the fans.

Here’s some of what I saw:

Taylor Swift took home the video of the year award that year, for her “Mine” video.

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