The takeaway from Friday’s opening press conference of the crazy-huge 50th Academy of Country Music Awards Show to be broadcast live from AT&T Stadium on Sunday is that … it could happen here again.
The press conference, held at the stadium just before performance rehearsals got under way, featured ACM show hosts Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton, who were joined at the press conference by show executives R.A. Clark, Bob Romeo and Jack Sussman. And they all agreed — this show is the biggest live show the CBS network has ever done.
It all goes back to the stadium’s opening six years ago, when the Jones family approached the ACMs about doing the yearly show live from the facility. The ACMs weren’t ready to make that kind of commitment then.
The problem, said Clark, the show’s executive producer, was figuring out a way to make the massive stadium seem intimate for a cool 70,000 people.
But they pulled it off, both for the small screen in fans’ living rooms and the big, big screen hanging in AT&T Stadium.
“Everything has been custom-built for here,” said Jack Sussman of CBS Specials, Music and Live Events, adding that there is an ongoing discussion about coming back to do the show perhaps every five years.
“As long as we can have time and money to do it, I would love to come back here because we’ve learned so much more this year,” Clark said.
“This is so cool to me,” said Shelton, “because Dallas-Fort Worth is like the mecca of country music fandom. Here, you’re hitting the fan base right in the heart.”
Bryan apologized for arriving a few minutes late to the presser, adding: “It takes a lot of work to get up and look better than Blake.”
The two sparred in the comic way that has brought them together for a third year as ACM hosts.
Someone asked Bryan if Shelton’s career successes had changed the Oklahoma-bred singer.
“He’s getting facials now,” Bryan ribbed. “He’s hydrating early in the morning, and he’s exfoliating.”
The show will have 23 separate performances, each one requiring the same amount of work to stage as a single concert. There are four days of rehearsals, 146 truckloads of equipment, and 90 artist tour buses involved in the setup and show. Companion events are taking place at nearby Globe Life Park, home of the Texas Rangers.
One spokeswoman said that Saturday will have 147 separate events associated with the ACMs, all of them beginning at 10 a.m. The executives said it is in line to be the most-attended live-awards show of any kind ever held, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
After the press conference, Lady Antebellum, Brad Paisley, Martina McBride and Miranda Lambert all rehearsed their songs on Friday morning.
The massive stadium was bathed in light and sound, and as at football games, it was hard to avert your eyes from the giant screen.
In addition to McBride’s Independence Day, Paisley’s Crushin’ It, and Lambert’s Little Red Wagon and Mama’s Broken Heart, there was practice for commercial break lead-ins, and a “placeholder” winner who held a trophy and thanked her imaginary family and friends for awards, ranging from female vocalist to best new group.
In an open stadium, the sound usually carries up from the stage and dissipates, Shelton said earlier, but the sound lingers in the enclosed AT&T Stadium.
“It’s crazy to be out there,” he said, “and you just feel like it’s a whole world inside a stadium.”
Shirley Jinkins, 817-390-7657