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HOT DISH: Keith Urban's Friends Flying South for Wedding
Nashvillians Head to Australia to Witness the Celebrity Wedding of the Year
(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.)

A handful of Keith Urban's closest friends and business associates will be traveling south to attend the celebrity wedding of the year when Keith ties the knot with actress Nicole Kidman during ceremonies Sunday (June 25) in Sydney, Australia.

The best I can tell, the list of Nashvillians attending the wedding will include Keith's manager, Gary Borman, and Besty Cook, who takes care of Keith's day-to-day business at Borman Entertainment. Also planning to attend are record producer Dann Huff and his wife. Two songwriters Keith often collaborates with -- Monty Powell and Darrell Brown -- also plan to travel to Australia with their wives for the ceremony. And, of course, Capitol Records Nashville senior vice president of marketing Fletcher Foster, who has helped guide Keith's career, wouldn't think of missing the event.

Yes, I Rant and Rave

I rant and rave about what I believe in, and right now, I'm talking about the wonderful 160,000-plus fans who came to Nashville for the CMA Music Festival aka Fan Fair. I'm not the only one who loves them, either. When I came across what Kenny Chesney said, I had to share it with you. If you're not a fan, don't even read it. You wouldn't understand.

Kenny, who was not a listed performer for 2006, started his day in New York where he had a pre-dawn wake-up call to appear on Good Morning America. After performing for a mob of fans in the Big Apple, Kenny immediately bolted back to Music Town to make a surprise appearance at the music festival. Kenny explains why:

"The only reason is the fans. Fan Fair and the CMA Music Fest -- and I think the CMA will tell you the same thing -- is all about the fans. And the people who have supported us throughout the years and the people that have taken us up to the next level and the people that have come to our concerts and the people who have bought our T-shirts and the people who have tailgated out in the parking lots -- all those people are there. And I just felt that it was important. It's right in the middle of my tour, but you know what? Those people come to see me sing three or four songs, and so I'm gonna do it."

The other two unannounced stars who showed up and thrilled the fans were Dierks Bentley and Keith Urban (who played acoustic guitar with Brooks & Dunn). Thanks Kenny, Dierks and Keith for caring. Some are not smart enough to know you don't cut off the hand that rocks your cradle. But you fans know. To each and every one of you, thanks for coming.

Two New Texans Arrive

Jack Ingram's career looks like it's finally taking off in a big way, and he recently became a father for the third time. Hudson Turner Ingram was born June 6, joining sister Ava, 3, and brother Eli, 2. Amongst the birthing and the naming, Jack sang the national anthem at the opening game of the NBA finals in his hometown of Dallas and performed at the CMA Music Festival in Music Town and the Riverbend Festival in Chattanooga, Tenn.

And while the rest of us were birthing Fan Fair 2006, Pat Green's wife Kori gave birth to their second child, a girl named Rainey Green, on June 12 in Fort Worth, Texas. Pat was with Kori during the birthing, like he should have been. The Greens also have a son, Kellison.

Highlights and Hindsight

After being seen carrying around a gallon of water during Fan Fair, Keith Anderson allows he drinks water to curb his appetite. Weight problems run in his family, so he's trying to avoid it. His dad weighs 300-plus pounds, and he has a couple of aunts who tip the scales at more than 400.

After completing his commitments at the music festival, cute Dierks Bentley jetted to Denver and shot a concert DVD set that will be released late this year or in early 2007.

Willie Nelson is Uncle Jesse for yet a second time in The Dukes of Hazzard 2. None of the other actors in the first Dukes movie have been asked to participate, but Willie Nelson has returned to shoot the prequel that will go directly to DVD.

I see where my friend, chef Emeril Lagasse, is joining Tim McGraw and Faith Hill for a special VIP benefit at his Emeril's restaurant in New Orleans. These three big-hearted people will host an invitation-only luncheon on July 5. Emeril will cook, and 120 guests will dine. Proceeds from the event will go to Tim and Faith's Neighbor's Keeper Foundation and the Emeril Lagasse Foundation to continue to help with hurricane recovery and the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast region.

Let me ask, wouldn't it be better to use NASCAR drivers (who know the names of country artists) rather than soap opera stars (who don't know the names and apparently don't care enough to learn how to pronounce them) during CMA Music Festival? But that ain't my business, is it?

Phil Vassar took off on a quick tour for Southwest Airlines on Friday (June 16) that began in Nashville with stops in three Texas cities -- Houston, Austin and Dallas. To help celebrate the airline's 35th anniversary, Phil hopped off the plane in each city to perform for passengers and customers. He hung around at the corporate headquarters in Dallas for the big employee party.

I am proud to report that NASCAR Images and CMT Films will produce the only authorized documentary on racing legend Dale Earnhardt. The film, titled Dale, will premiere in selected cities on the NASCAR circuit in February before debuting on CMT in the third quarter of 2007. A DVD release is also planned. I don't know about you, but I get teary every time I think of Junior Johnson at Earnhardt's funeral. When Junior, who never lost a race on the track or with the law, was asked about Dale, he drawled with a tear in his voice, "He's the best that ever was." Ol' Junior said it all.

Trace Adkins is looking so good these days. He's not drinking, firmed up. Someone said, "Trace, you look like you're in good shape." Trace shook his head and said he has a trainer, "But I fake it. Couldn't run out of sight if I had to."

Hank Williams Jr. will be joined by an all-star band on a video for "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Monday Night." Featured in the video are Charlie Daniels, Little Richard and Bootsy Collins along with Clarence Clemons and Steven Van Zandt from Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. The video will debut prior to ESPN's Monday Night Football season opener on Sept. 11.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Pound Cake.
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