MELODIES & MAYHEM

CMT Music Awards host Jeff Foxworthy casts a wary eye on broadcast.

Jeff Foxworthy confesses he's a little scared about hosting the 2005 CMT Music Awards April 11. The "You Might Be a Redneck If . . ." comedian isn't at all uncomfortable hosting a big-time awards show, but he's wary about the role his real-life buds, fellow comedians Bill Engvall and Larry the Cable Guy, will play in the show. "I don't really know what they're going to do, but I hope the CMT folks lock 'em in a closet somewhere," declares Jeff with a grin. "If they don't, those guys will probably be messin' with me. That's the part of hosting the show that scares me." Jeff admits that Bill and Larry, his co-stars on the hit WB series Blue Collar TV, could enlist the help of some of the stars appearing on the show to "mess with" him. "They just might," nods Jeff, " 'cause most country stars don't take themselves too seriously, and a lot of them are really funny. Plus, most of them have the ability to laugh at themselves-so I'm sure they can laugh at me." The CMT Music Awards airs April 11 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. The live CMT telecast of country's only fan-voted awards show will feature winners in a variety of video categories, and performances by Alan Jackson, Reba McEntire, Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, Keith Urban, Big & Rich, Gretchen Wilson, Brad Paisley and other stars. "The fact that fans vote on this award means a lot," declares Jeff. "Any award I ever got that was voted on by the fans means so much more to me, whether it was a TNN award, a People's Choice Award or a Country Weekly award. If the people vote for you, that's what counts. That's cool." Jeff says he's looking forward to hosting the show because he loves country music and many of the stars on the CMT show have appeared on The Foxworthy Countdown, his weekly syndicated Top 25 country hits radio show airing in more than 220 U.S. markets. "Our most recent guests on the radio show have been Big & Rich, LeAnn Rimes, Trace Adkins and Montgomery Gentry. Big & Rich are a blast, but I don't think I'd want to hang with them for the night. I don't think I can keep up!" But Jeff is keeping up with the buzz created by Big & Rich, Gretchen Wilson and their MuzikMafia musical clan. He sees it as part of a cycle. "The longer you're around country music, it never sits still anyway," he notes. "It'll go one direction for a little while, and then it goes back the other way. It's always moving. And the pendulum is swinging in the MuzikMafia direction right now. "But," he adds, "what stays consistent in country music is that a great song is a great story. And there's no other form of music where that's the case. With a lot of rock songs, even ones you really like, you have no idea what the song is about. But whether you're MuzikMafia or George Strait or Alan Jackson, a great song is a great story. "I think that's why it's the only form of music that's had comedy associated with it, because good comedy tells good stories, too. You don't have jazz comedians. You don't have rock 'n' roll comedians. Country music has always had comedy associated with it. You've even got comedians in the Country Music Hall of Fame." And with his best-selling comedy albums and You Might Be a Redneck If . . . books, the mega-successful Blue Collar Comedy Tour, hit TV and radio shows, and zany videos, Jeff is easily a Hall of Fame candidate. And the cookbook he's just written, The Redneck Grill: The Most Fun You Can Have With Fire, Charcoal and a Dead Animal, is loaded with recipes and redneck jokes about cooking. "Speaking of writing," notes Jeff, "Country Weekly is looking and reading great. I get it every issue." Well, Jeff, what did you think of our Valentine's Day issue with your bud Larry the Cable Guy as our camouflaged diaper-wearing Cupid?

"Larry in a diaper is something I really didn't need to see," explains Jeff with a laugh. "And when Bill saw the issue he told Larry, 'Don't ever do that to me again.' "

Just like there's no telling what hilarious things Jeff is going to do and say as host of the CMT Music Awards, there's definitely no way to guess what Bill and Larry are going to do to him. Wonder if Larry still has that diaper?

- LARRY HOLDEN

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