» Toby, Not Urban? Imagine an entirely different Keith caught between Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey on the set of American Idol. It almost happened to Toby Keith, who passed on a gig with AI (as did Brad Paisley) before Keith Urban landed a judge's chair. "That was a flattering offer in a huge primetime spot with a lot of money and all of that," Keith admits. "Ten years ago I probably would have done it. And I've been offered sitcoms by all five major networks. I always sit down with them and after three months of negotiating end up turning it down. It's a lot of time, production and prep. So yeah, American Idol's a big show and a lot of money, but it took me five seconds to go, 'Nuh-uh.' I really just enjoy racing my horses, writing songs, playing golf and traveling around to see some stuff other than what I see when I'm working. I've just gotten to that point in my life where I'm enjoying some of what I've harvested."
» Urban Unbuttoned: As suspected, Keith Urban will do almost anything for guacamole. Wait, what? Yeah, we don't understand either. But we do know that his latest "Urban Chat" video series was shot on the set of American Idol in Baton Rouge and involves a lot of research, a giant flag and Ryan Seacrest's navel. Enjoy ... here.
» Red Dawn: Giving new meaning to painting the town (world?) red, Taylor Swift is in high gear promoting her upcoming album ... wait for it ... Red. Swift's latest jaunt across the pond included a performance of the title track at the BBC Radio 1 Teen Awards. Watch here. She also appeared on a local talk show and told the host how she's learned multiple languages in order to speak with fans in other countries. The track list for the 16-song album is out here, and Taylor previewed cut four, "I Knew You Were Trouble," on Good Morning America; see it here.
» Georgia On My Grind: Luke Bryan kicked off his six-date Farm Tour 2012 in a Claxton, GA Oct. 3, and rain was apparently a good thing. "Rain started to fall, but people kept buying tickets up to the start of Luke's set," our insider tells us. "Of course, Luke opened with 'Rain Is A Good Thing' and showed a little extra zip with his signature dance moves. His set was littered with Georgia state references and shoutouts to his alma mater Georgia Southern." The tour, which runs through Oct. 13, raises money for local scholarships.
» Nashville On Nashville: Dismissing any notion that country isn't mainstream, ABC-TV will put it front and center Wednesday night with the premiere of its new television drama Nashville (10/10). The plot centers on conflict between waning country superstar Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton) and up-and-comer Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere). But don't expect a Glee-like musical. "We use music and performance to help tell the story, define the characters and create emotion," our insider on the set tells us. "We don't suddenly break into song; we try do it in a way that's seamless."
» Please Welcome To The Stage: Co-host Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, and The Band Perry are set to perform at The 46th Annual CMA Awards. It might be easier to announce who isn't performing since the show already includes Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Kelly Clarkson, Little Big Town, Miranda Lambert, co-host Brad Paisley and the Zac Brown Band. The show airs live from Nashville Nov. 1 on ABC-TV.
» In Case You Missed It: Kellie Pickler returned as co-host of Anderson Live (10/8). Watch Pickler talk about what made the first time awkward here.
Darius Rucker recaps his experience as the best-dressed "guest picker" on ESPN's College Game Dayhere.
Michael Ray has won a recording contract with Atlantic Records thanks to CW's The Next. Hillbilly Jedi John Rich served as Ray's mentor on the show. Watch the final episode here.
The Oak Ridge Boys' 40th Anniversary Tour opens with a two-night stand in Galveston, TX Jan. 19 and includes a five-day cruise beginning Feb. 28. More info here.
Sweethearts of the Rodeo will release Restless Oct. 23. Details here.
Tuesday (10/9): Blake Shelton, The Voice (NBC).
Wednesday (10/10): Nashville (ABC); Dwight Yoakam, Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC).
Upcoming Album Releases
Jason AldeanNight Train (10/16)
Jamey JohnsonLivin' For A Song: A Tribute To Hank Cochran (10/16)
Scotty McCreery Christmas With Scotty McCreery (10/16)
» Extreme Home Makeover:Dierks Bentley, Tommy Cash, Joanne Cash Yates, Rosanne Cash, and The Civil Wars' Joy Williams and JohnPaul White (pictured l-r) helped raise approximately $200,000 at the second annual Johnny Cash Music Festival. Funds go toward restoration of Cash's boyhood home in Dyess, AR and support a scholarship fund established in the late icon's name.