VIVA LAS VEGAS!

Country's hottest stars roll the dice – and the good times – at the Academy of Country Music Awards, moving this year to an exciting new city

Winning an ACM award is such a long shot, it's only fitting that this year's show will be held in the home of high stakes – Las Vegas!

After 37 years in Hollywood, the west-coast-based ACMs are headed for Sin City, home to high rollers for over half a century. "It's going to be very glitzy and celebratory," promises the show's producer, TV legend Dick Clark.

Ten-time ACM winner Reba McEntire will again host the star-studded show. The three-hour spectacle will be broadcast live on May 21 from the Madalay Bay Events Center on CBS, starting at 8 p.m. ET.

"It's going to be big," asserts Dick. And sure enough, it's the hottest ticket in town. "There were 3,000 ticket requests the first day they announced we were doing the show there," he reports.

Awards-wise, Toby Keith is the man to watch. He has piled up eight ACM nominations this year, including a nod for the prized Entertainer of the Year. But Alan Jackson is nipping at Toby's heels with six nominations, and Kenny Chesney and Trick Pony each have five.

You might also notice that the trophy handed to winners has been redesigned with a sleek, updated look – though it still retains its basic trademark cowboy-hat shape.

Two stages have been built to accommodate at least 15 performances. Among the stars scheduled to appear are Kenny, Alan, Brooks & Dunn, Martina McBride, Diamond Rio and Rascal Flatts. Alabama, who announced their farewell tour on last year's show, will be receiving a special award.

Fans will get to name their own favorite in one category, the Home Depot Humanitarian Award. Reba won the prize last year, which includes a playground built in the recipient's honor. (The Reba McEntire Playground opened in Atoka, Okla., last November.) Voting for this year's Humanitarian Award will continue through the first two hours of the broadcast at homedepot.com/acm.

One hitch for the show could be the war in Iraq and its possible fallout, which could still be going on at airtime. "We'll handle it as the war progresses," says Dick. "Obviously, if it's going on we'll acknowledge it, and if not, we'll thank the troops."

One way or another, Dick promises an unforgettable show – and many more to come. "We'll do it just as long as we can stay on the air," he says. "There's no end in sight."

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