(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 CMT.com.)
Faith Hill just became the only female in history to debut three consecutive albums at No. 1 on both Billboard's country albums chart and the Billboard 200 pop chart. The first week on the shelves, her new album, Fireflies, sold 329,000 copies while she began production of her forthcoming TV special.
During a one-night-only concert attended by fan club members chosen at random, industry guests and the songwriters who penned material for her album, she performed all 14 songs from her record. Immediately after the Nashville show, Faith left for L.A., where she performs two shows at the Pantages Theater.
Hank Williams Jr. will continue to hear his "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight" played on ABC-TV's Monday Night Football. However, Faith's hubby -- Tim McGraw -- has partnered with the network and the NFL for special halftime programming during the upcoming season. Highlights from the game will be set to Tim's mega-hit, "I Like It, I Love It," in a twist to resemble the late Howard Cosell's halftime highlights. Tim and his band are set to rerecord the hit with a new version for football.
The Dukes of Hazzard Hits a Homer
Well, it hit theaters, and it's a whopper. The makers of The Dukes of Hazzard aimed for a homer, and they proved themselves right from the get-go with a top-grossing first week of $30.6 million. Everywhere you looked media-wise, there's Jessica Simpson strutting around scantily dressed leaving little to the imagination. When she put on Daisy Duke shorts and boots, she actually looked fully dressed. They tell me babes in New York City are also wearing boots, Daisy Duke cut-offs or short denim skirts. I refuse to be critical if they play country music to tap their booted feet.
I've seen some pretty funny outtakes of Willie Nelson and Burt Reynolds in their respective roles of Uncle Jesse and Boss Hogg. Actress Nikki Griffin, a love interest of both Bo and Luke Duke in the movie, says Willie and Burt would cause quite a stir when they would go out to a restaurant for dinner. "Women my mom's age would bolt up to Willie or Burt and swoon, 'Oh, Willie' or 'Oh, Burt.'" In the movie soundtrack, Willie sings "Good Ol' Boys," the song from the TV series that was a hit for his late buddy, Waylon Jennings. Willie said he sang it as much like Waylon as he could.
There's a lot of criticism regarding filthy language in the film. As a matter of fact, Ben Jones (who played Cooter in the TV series) spoke out against the dirty talk, and Ken Beck (a writer for The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville) wrote that the language used in the movie is filthier than any odor that ever rose from an outhouse. Folks, I was raised using an outhouse, and I can tell you from experience, there must be some nasty words in that movie.
Two items of interest: Jessica Simpson attempted to launch her career right here in Nashville singing gospel music. Now she promises thenceforth her music will be more country.
Peter Jennings Has a Place in Country Music History
The passing of ABC-TV's Peter Jennings reminded a lot of people about the problem that arose between Jennings and Toby Keith that Fourth of July in 2002 when Toby's "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)" became more than a song written by a hillbilly from Oklahoma.
Jennings, for whatever reason, would not allow Toby to sing the song on an ABC special. Toby defied Jennings. Standing his ground, he said he'd perform the song or he would not be on the TV show. Jennings, in return, defied Toby and refused to change his mind. Toby did not perform, but it's an understatement to say the incident helped his career. In fact, it shot Toby and the song into an even higher orbit than anyone dreamed possible.
Jennings leaves a void in television news as his death ends an era at ABC News. It is my sincere hope and prayer that each and every smoker who reads this column will come to realize that lung cancer has no mercy, not even on a wealthy individual with class and finesse like the late Peter Jennings. May he rest in peace.
Okie Carrie Underwood Honored
Yet another outstanding Okie joined the long list that includes Garth, Vince, Reba, Toby, Joe Diffie and Jean Shepard when American Idol winner Carrie Underwood was honored by the state of Oklahoma. Gov. Brad Henry presented Carrie with signs -- reading "Checotah, OK -- Home of Carrie Underwood" -- that will be placed at main roads leading to her hometown.
Leave it to Dolly Parton to think up something original for the kids. Her newest family-friendly addition to her Dixie Stampede dinner and show in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., is called Dolly's Barnyard Critters. It features the world's only stick horse collection where children can make their own stick horse to suit their taste. Dolly has made her very own one-of-a-kind stick horse and named him Lucky. "They were so cute and cuddly, I couldn't resist making one of my own," she said. Just imagine if they made a Dolly horse ... with a chest cold!
Still Hitting at 70
The days when Hank Cochran and the late Harlan Howard wrote songs and rushed out to play them at an almost daily pace is part of Music Row history. Harlan has left for songwriter's heaven, but old Hank is still buying pencils and legal pads and making rhymes. He's been writing with Red Lane and has a song on pal Willie Nelson's reggae album. Songwriting buddies Dean Dillon, Dale Dodson and others helped Hank celebrate his 70th birthday recently.
Did You Hear?
Brad Paisley will appear Monday (Aug. 15) on Good Morning America, performing a couple of tunes from his new album, including his hit, "Alcohol." His CD, Time Well Wasted, hits stores Tuesday (Aug. 16).
Backstage at Toby Keith's Aug. 7 concert at Philips Arena in Atlanta was part of the team rumored to be leading his new record label. Included were Scott Borchetta, Denise Roberts, John Zarling and Tony Morreale, each recently departed from various labels in Nashville. Somebody said former Sony exec Allen Butler is also involved in this assemblage, and I understand a roster of five acts is already confirmed for the unnamed label. Distribution? Surely Universal is smart enough to keep Toby.
Fellow Okies Vince Gill and Reba McEntire are serving as co-chairs for a commemorative CD celebrating the 100th anniversary of Oklahoma's statehood in 2007. The state's greatest country music artists will be featured. Sales from the project will benefit Habitat for Humanity in Oklahoma.
Keith Anderson and Blake Shelton will open the show when Rascal Flatts make their very first appearance headlining at Nashville's Gaylord Entertainment Center on Sept. 24.
Reba is still getting it done. Her latest CD, Room to Breathe, has been certified platinum. That makes 18 platinum albums for her.
I wonder if their sponsor, Jim Beam, has anything to do with Montgomery Gentry breaking things? Still, Eddie Montgomery (with a broken hand) and Troy Gentry (with a smashed leg) stood and smiled long enough for photos with Diane Sawyer following their debut performance on Good Morning America.
Two country newbies: Rick Trevino and his wife welcomed a daughter, Presley Grace, born Aug. 3. And Josh Gracin and his wife welcomed a son, Landon Joshua, on Aug. 4.
I don't need to be sitting here. I need to be in Indianapolis at the Indiana State Fair -- where Keith Urban and Alan Jackson are performing. People ask me why movie stars are attracted to our men. Just go to a concert and hear real men sing songs that ring true. Females don't hear a whole lot of that in Hollywood.
As a final note, we send our love and sympathy to Kathy Mattea on the passing of her mother in West Virginia.
See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Hawaiian Wedding Cake.