CMAs: They Advertised What, Where?

NASHVILLE -- Driving back from a recording session with Sebastian Bach just now (more on that insanity later), I got stuck behind a delivery truck whose contents were actually outside: On the back and both sides of the truck were illuminated billboards advertising Tim McGraw's Nov. 22 hosting appearance on "Saturday Night Live."

I'd be willing to be that they didn't do that here for Anna Faris when she got the gig in September. Then again, this is a city in which I see the visages of country stars and comers just about everywhere I turn: Alan Jackson is peering down from the side of the Sommet Center, site of tomorrow's Country Music Association Awards; I'm pretty sure I saw George Strait on the side of a local car dealer's custom truck parked outside a honky-tonk bar on Broadway; and I almost ran over a Heidi Newfield cardboard cutout near a Chevy display this afternoon.

Anyway, the "SNL" hosting stint was a topic of discussion at lunch today, when a music publicist wondered aloud how in the world McGraw had landed the slot.

Nothing against him at all, she said, but McGraw doesn't have a new album out (unless you count the greatest-hits compilation he has disowned) and his new movie, "Four Christmases," isn't really his movie: The romantic comedy stars Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon, with Robert Duvall, Jon Favreau, Mary Steenburgen and Dwight Yoakam listed as co-stars ahead of McGraw on the poster. (A silent McGraw appears in the trailer, sans mustache.)

He's not exactly at the tip of pop culture right now, in other words.

And anyway, it's somewhat uncommon for musicians to be tapped to host "SNL," as the producers are always worried about their ability to hold their own in the monologue and skits - even if McGraw is part of that ever-expanding class of musician-actor hyphenates. In fact, Queen Latifah and Jon Bon Jovi are the only legit musical stars to have hosted over the past four seasons. (Don't bother trying to make a case for Paris Hilton, Jack Black or Scarlett Johansson.) And it's especially rare for country artists to get the gig: I believe the last one was Garth Brooks in 1998. (Don't bother trying to convince me that Bon Jovi should be considered country first.)

But hey, there is that new cologne, McGraw By Tim McGraw. And he's co-authored a new children's book out, "My Little Girl." So put that in your promotional pipe and smoke it.

By J. Freedom du Lac |  November 11, 2008; 6:52 PM ET Roadies , TV Music
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