'American Idol' and 'Dancing with the Stars' Go Country
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
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By Susan Young, Film.com

Yahoo all you little addicted-to-reality-shows buckaroos. Reality stars have gone country and are brining their fans with them.

Yep, turns out the 44th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards telecast delivered the largest audience since 1998 and posted double digit percentage increases in all categories versus last year.

We’re chalking it up to the killer combo of American Idol winner Carrie Underwood and Dancing with the Stars sweetie Julianne Hough being up for some major awards that night.

Both American Idol and Dancing with the Stars have consistently come in on top of the ratings chart, the TV equivalent of box office smashes that almost never leave the marquee. In fact, big screen films don’t come close to bringing in the eyeballs you get with a hit television series.

For the country awards, it was like having Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston on the Oscar telecast, minus the murderous undertones.

Carrie kicked some serious country boy behind when she took home the Entertainer of the Year trophy in a category dominated by men. In the 39 year history of that category, this is only the seventh time the women beat out the men for the trophy. Last time was in 2000 when those sassy Dixie Chicks grabbed the glory. Before that, only five women – Reba McEntire and Loretta Lynn sharing the honor in 1975, Dolly Parton (1977), Barbara Mandrell (1980) and Shania Twain (1999) – were honored.

“I accepted that award on behalf of myself and my fans, but also on behalf of other women who came before me that kicked butt but never got the recognition they deserve,” Carrie said. “I can’t wait [for the day], which I hope is in the very near future, where having females in the category is no big deal whatsoever.”

Not to mention reality stars.

The night was a double-header for reality fans. Julianne stomped the competition by winning both top new artist and top new female vocalist. In a previous interview, Julianne, who has been a singer most of her life although her fame came from her dance moves, said she probably would not have been ushered through that open door to make her a country star if not for DWTS.

“Absolutely. I have the fan base from Dancing with the Stars. I mean I would have continued trying to do my music if I wasn’t on the show,’ Julianne said, adding that it would have been much harder without the popularity and name recognition of being on DWTS.

And turnabout is fair play. Julianne is the common denominator in this season's DWTS fascination with country folk.

Before the latest dancers were chosen, Julianne was on a musical tour last summer with country singers Jewel and Chuck Wicks. Chuck’s now her boyfriend and DWTS dance partner. Jewel was scheduled to dance before getting taken out by an injury, but Jewel’s husband, rodeo star Ty Murray, is still on and burning up the dance floor.

So now we have ballroom dancing meets barn dancing.

And it seems just like yesterday when Simon Cowell told us that Carrie was his pick to take it all in 2005, and that she would outsell all previous winners. Makes Simon seem almost like the Amazing Kreskin. Later producers said she won almost every competition night by a country mile.

What’s odd about Simon choosing Carrie as his anointed Idol is that the man almost breaks out in hives every time there’s a country-themed night on American Idol. You can see him straining to stay in his seat instead of racing towards the door screaming “No more twang!” How many times has he said he “just doesn’t get” some country song?

That’s obviously not a problem for fans of Carrie or Julianne. Seems like a love match between reality shows and country music. After all, what’s more real than country music?

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(Image courtesy of WENN)