Reba rates raves, ratings

With Hollywood tribute, CMT takes 'Giant' steps

With its own country music awards show (separate from the CMA Awards) occurring in April, CMT was looking for a program to tentpole the second half of the year.

What it found is that Reba McEntire makes one very promising tentpole.

The country music and recent sitcom star is the focus of the inaugural “CMT: Giants” special, taped at Hollywood’s Kodak Theater on Oct. 26 for showing on CMT Nov. 18. Her mere presence is generating lots of big-name power for the country music cabler.

Testifying to her industry stature (built over a career encompassing 33 No. 1 hits), McEntire is joined on “Giants” by such crossover performers as Faith Hill, Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride, LeAnn Rimes and Kelly Clarkson. CMT hopes the lineup, combined with McEntire’s TV fame, will expand interest in the broadcast.

“The core country audience, which is significant in and of itself — that’s a huge base to be dealing with,” CMT vice president of marketing Andy Holeman says. “For fans of live music (in general), fans of entertainment, this is a pretty well-rounded piece of content for us.”

Sarah Brock, executive producer of the show and veep of production for CMT, says she’s not worried fans will have gotten their fill from the CMA Awards broadcast, airing 12 days earlier.

“If anything, it just kind of gets people in the zone of country music,” she says. “We’ll take that.”

CMT plans to air its second edition of “Giants” next year, but Brock says the network has not chosen a 2007 centerpiece performer.

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