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The 2020 ACM Awards Didn’t Hide From the Pandemic — They Embraced It

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This year has been one long succession of bewildering events, so there was no way the 55th Academy of Country Music Awards weren’t going to feel oh-so-2020. Already rescheduled from its original April date due to Covid-19 and converted to a virtual, audience-free event in Nashville for the first-time ever, the ACMs leaned into the strange with another first: a tie between Thomas Rhett and Carrie Underwood for the night’s top prize, Entertainer of the Year.

“What is happening right now?” asked Thomas Rhett, which is a pretty darn good question, anyway you slice it. The night marked his first win in the Entertainer category and Underwood’s third, making her the only female artist to win Entertainer three times (she won before in 2008 and 2009).

With performances and presentations taking place at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, Bluebird Cafe, and Grand Ole Opry House, the ACM Awards attempted to answer the question of how one stages a country awards show in the age of Covid? With two more country awards shows scheduled between now and early November (the CMT Awards and the CMA Awards), the rescheduled ACMs could have been the sacrificial pancake in the short stack. Instead, it succeeded, thanks to a willingness to accept our current normal.

While three of the guys in Old Dominion were the night’s top winners with three awards each, Luke Combs collected a couple of the big prizes, earning an Album of the Year trophy for What You See Is What You Get and one for Male Artist of the Year. He also sang “Better Together” and made some U.S. armed forces veterans very happy by presenting them with a truckload of guitars in a pre-taped segment. (As it turns out, much of the three-hour show was prerecorded.)

Combs was present for the show opening, which featured all five of the Entertainer of the Year nominees doing a medley of their hits. Luke Bryan sang “Rain Is a Good Thing,” Eric Church delivered a solo “Drink in My Hand,” Rhett performed “It Goes Like This” at the Ryman, Combs sang “When It Rains It Pours” at the Bluebird, and Underwood closed it out with “Before He Cheats.” It was a charge to see entertainers actually sing with a band again — until the weirdness of the year came screaming back anytime a propulsive performance ended with dead silence instead of applause.

The ascension of Combs coincided with the diminished presence of the most recent generation of male superstars. Jason Aldean was nowhere to be found, while Luke Bryan smiled his way through the charming-enough Kenny Chesney homage “One Margarita,” dreaming of a beach somewhere far away like the rest of us. Urban, though he did an admirable job hosting, had a seemingly pantomimed performance of “One Too Many” with Pink.

Old Dominion and Dan + Shay are the dominant vocal group and duo, respectively, in country music right now. The former performed a medley of their songs and accepted a couple of awards while very responsibly wearing their protective masks to give acceptance speeches, while the latter brought home another Vocal Duo of the Year honor and sang “I Should Probably Go to Bed.” Previous Vocal Duo of the Year winners Florida Georgia Line added to the year’s all-out bizarreness with their performance of “I Love My Country,” during which an injured Tyler Hubbard rolled around the stage on a knee scooter. This year sucks, so why try to hide it? Instead, FGL offered a fun alternative to screaming into one’s pillow.

As usual, women did much of the heavy lifting. Miranda Lambert, joined by her co-writers Luke Dick and Natalie Hemby, sang her hit “Bluebird” at the Bluebird Cafe. While it was a little on the nose, it’s one of those songs that taps into the extra reserves of resilience we all need to summon right now. It’s also yet another example of why Lambert is the all-time winningest artist in ACM history.

Luke Combs performed at the Bluebird Cafe and won two ACMs.

Underwood did a fabulous tribute to great women of the Grand Ole Opry, effortlessly sliding between Patsy Cline’s “Crazy,”  Loretta Lynn’s “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)”,  Barbara Mandrell’s “I Was Country (When Country Wasn’t Cool),” Reba McEntire’s “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia,” and Martina McBride’s “Broken Wing.” Side note: We’d listen to a whole-ass album of Underwood singing McBride songs, because she knows how to bring the fireworks.

Kelsea Ballerini did a rendition of “Hole in the Bottle” that blended some Floyd Cramer-style piano with nifty bluegrass picking. Gabby Barrett belted her way through the vengeful breakout hit “I Hope.” Maren Morris delivered a sublimely mellow version of “To Hell & Back,” from her album Girl, and later gave an acceptance speech for Female Artist of the Year in which she admitted she desperately needed to urinate and then urged everyone to vote.

Oh, hey, Taylor Swift was also in the house, making a return to the ACMs after seven years away. Accompanied by only a harmonica player, Swift’s performance of “Betty” from 2020’s surprise album Folklore had all the poise of her infamous ACM performance of “Tim McGraw” sung directly to its namesake. She sounded beautiful, and even made a clever little TV-friendly switch of the song’s lyrical F-bomb to the more FCC-friendly “straight to hell.”

As for really addressing the scourges of systemic racism or misogyny or the pandemic or climate change, it was a mixed bag. Urban started the show by noting that we were dealing with “two pandemics: Covid-19 and social injustice. Far too many lives have been lost by both.” Which, while technically correct, is a less scary way to say “racism” when you’re worried about how people might react. Elsewhere, Kane Brown sang “Worldwide Beautiful” with help from a line of backup singers in the Opry House’s balcony to hard-sell the idea of harmony and togetherness. And Church played guitar along to the entirety of Johnny Cash’s “Ragged Ol’ Flag” recitation before ripping into “Stick That in Your Country Song,” which was blustery but felt more like a message about the importance of having a message.

Mickey Guyton, ACM Awards

Mickey Guyton performed “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?” on the 55th ACM Awards.

CBS

In the end, it was Mickey Guyton’s performance of “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?” that cut through the noise. It was Guyton’s first time performing on the ACMs, so her song about being a woman and having your dreams crushed came suffused with heavy emotion, particularly given that radio didn’t give it much attention. Guyton, for her part, absolutely knocked it out of the park, demonstrating that she’s got a world-class set of pipes as well as something important to say. It’s worth pointing out that Keith Urban served as Guyton’s accompanist on piano, but wisely stayed out of the spotlight for her big moment.

Interstitials throughout the event showed the stars getting camera-ready touch-ups from makeup artists in face shields, and presenters like Darius Rucker removing a fresh and clean microphone from a sanitized plastic bag. It was an acknowledgement of just how strange everything is, but also that it’s possible to stage a big televised event by taking the right precautions. In a city that has frequently stumbled in its efforts to keep the virus risks contained, it was nice to see.

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Rhino says IMPACT! right now “feels like ECW”

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IMPACT Wrestling’s Rhino has done it all during his over 20 year wrestling career.

Having first made his name in ECW (becoming the company’s last-ever World Heavyweight Champion) he went on to compete in WWE, where he became a tag team champion alongside Heath.

Now, as one of IMPACT’s top stars, Rhino is happier than ever, having recently been reunited with his best friend Heath.

Impact Wrestling

Speaking exclusively to Digital Spy, Rhino revealed how IMPACT currently reminds him in many ways of the original ECW.

“Right now [IMPACT] feels more like ECW and I know why because you’ve got influences like Scott D’Amore, who would go on the road with me quite a bit, and he studied and learned a lot from Paul Heyman,” Rhino explained.

“Tommy Dreamer, Don Callis, that’s a great influence and a lot of the men and women that are in the locker room, they watched ECW and what made that product was unpredictability.

impact wrestling rhino

Impact Wrestling

“Just when you thought you knew what was going to happen, bam, something totally different happened which just brought you in even more.”

Backstage, Rhino says the veterans are all also willing to look out for and mentor the company’s rising stars.

“About a month ago I was in the IMPACT locker room and I watched Eddie Edwards walk by and I see Dreamer talking to younger talent trying to help them become better than what they are.

“I see Don Callis in the corner talking to someone, I see Rob Van Dam sitting there, either eating or, you know, being Rob Van Dam and I took a deep breath and I thought, ‘I’m part of something pretty great’.

“And this is coming from a guy that’s been in a lot of locker rooms over 26 years and I look over and see Heath coming down the hallway and I think, ‘and I’ve got my best friend here too.'”

Speaking about ECW, nearly 20 years after it folded, Rhino admitted he didn’t fully appreciate how special his time there was while it was happening.

impact wrestling rhino and heath

Impact Wrestling

“I just went over to Pakistan and I was still getting ECW chants,” Rhino said. “I get ECW chants all over the place.

“But when you live it you don’t realise the memories you’re creating, you’re just out there just hitting that grind, doing the best you can and just living it.

“You don’t take a second to step back, take a deep breath and look around,” he added. “That’s what I tell a lot of people I mentor – don’t get caught up too much where you don’t stop for a second take a deep breath and look around.”

IMPACT Wrestling is available for FREE for fans in the UK on the IMPACT Plus app. Bound For Glory airs on October 25 at 1am on Fite TV.


Digital Spy has launched its first-ever digital magazine with exclusive features, interviews, and videos. Access this edition with a 1-month free trial, only on Apple News+.

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Danny Dyer’s The Wall return date confirmed by BBC

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Danny Dyer-fronted game show The Wall is returning for a second series and it’s coming very soon.

The BBC has confirmed that EastEnders star Dyer will be back for “the ultimate game of risk and reward” on Saturday, October 3 and it has released a brand new trailer for the show in celebration, which you can watch above.

It may be a short clip but we can already feel the tension as Dyer introduces the famous wall, saying that if this wall could talk it would say “strap yourself in for the ride of your life – but it would also say don’t ever think you’re in control”.

BBC

Related: The Wall viewers can’t stop cringing at Danny Dyer’s pet name for contestants

Success on The Wall requires a combination of strategy, knowledge and luck from its contestants and the latest batch of competitors certainly look like they’re having their nerves shredded.

Dyer takes charge of hosting duties on the show while questions are voiced by Angela Rippon.

“Wildly unpredictable with heart stopping jeopardy, The Wall gives and The Wall takes away,” the BBC said while teasing the new series. “Expect colossal wins and heart-breaking losses, this game show really can change people’s lives in an instant.

“In this game, pairs need the right answers, the right bounces and cast-iron trust in each other to win a life-changing cash prize.”

danny dyer the wall bbc

BBC

Related: EastEnders casts Bad Girls star for new Carters storyline

The Wall was first aired in the US in 2016 on network NBC and has gone on to be sold to 24 global territories, making it the most travelled TV format of 2017 and 2018.

Dyer’s EastEnders character Mick Carter meanwhile could be facing more trouble as his wife Linda, played by Kellie Bright, becomes tempted to drink again after spending the past few months battling her addiction to alcohol.

The couple have sold The Vic and moved out of the pub to try to aid her recovery but Linda struggles while on a night out next week and takes a sip of an alcoholic drink.

Observant Max Branning (Jake Wood) will step in to talk to Linda, but whether she confides in husband Mick is another question.

The Wall returns on Saturday, October 3 at 9.15pm on BBC One.


Alcohol Change UK offers information, advice and support with their questions about drinking and the problems that can sometimes be caused by alcohol. For more information, visit Alcohol Change UK’s website. Drinkline also offers free, confidential advice to anyone who is concerned about their own or someone else’s drinking on 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am–8pm, weekends 11am–4pm).


Digital Spy has launched its first-ever digital magazine with exclusive features, interviews, and videos. Access this edition witha 1-month free trial, only on Apple News+.

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Why was New Girl canceled?

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Created by Elizabeth Meriwether, New Girl premiered on Fox all the way back in 2011.

As reported by IMDb, the series revolves around a high-spirited teacher named Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and her roommates Nick (Jake Johnson), Schmidt (Max Greenfield), and Winston (Lamorne Morris). Jess’ best friend Cece (Hannah Simone) also makes frequent appearances. The main characters are all in their early thirties and living in Los Angeles; the show follows them as they navigate mature relationships and career decisions.

If you love the show, then you know that the series concluded in 2018 after airing for seven seasons. Many people were saddened by the show’s cancellation, and fans might be wondering if there was a reason for it. If you want to know why New Girl ended, then you’ve come to the right place.

Why did New Girl end?

According to ScreenRant, it was originally thought that the sixth season of New Girl would be the last one, so the writers and producers made it so that the season 6 season finale could serve as the finale if need be.

However, series creator Elizabeth Meriwether implored the cast and crew of the series to campaign for a seventh season, and their efforts paid off.

New Girl returned for an eight-episode season that flashed forward three years, allowing fans to see what their favorite characters were up to. It seems that the cancellation of the show was a decision that was made by Fox and not the showrunners.

If you think about it, a lot of great shows don’t get nearly as many seasons as New Girl did. The series had seven years on the air, and the cast and crew made the most of what they were given.

A lot of shows get worse the longer they go on (looking at you, Grey’s Anatomy), but New Girl was great until the end. Fans should just enjoy the seven amazing seasons that they got, instead of wishing for more episodes that might not have been as satisfying.

All seven seasons are currently available on Netflix!

Next: 10 Netflix movies and shows to watch with your Pumpkin Spice Latte

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