Superstars Combine, Allman Honored, Video of the Year Decided – All on Tonight’s CMT Music Awards

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Expect a parade of country music superstars performing and presenting. Expect blow-your-mind onstage collaborations between wildly different musical acts. Expect a down-to-the-wire vote on the video of the year. Expect a tribute to the late Gregg Allman. And expect it all to come together under Nashville star Charles Esten at tonight’s CMT Music Awards.

Yup, you can expect all of this:

There’s a lot to process in that quick video, so here’s a bit more of what you need to know about tonight’s show:

You can still vote for video of the year even after the show starts. 

Fans have narrowed the finalists for video of the year from an original 14 to these seven nominees: Carrie Underwood, Cole Swindell, Florida Georgia Line, Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert and the CMA-produced 50th anniversary video, Artists of Then, Now & Forever. Vote now.

Also help us select a #SOCIALSUPERSTAR presented by Pepsi

You can honor an act who uses social media to connect with fans by tagging your social posts with #CMTawards and with the artist’s tag, #VoteBrett (Brett Eldredge), #VoteJake (Jake Owen), #VoteKeith (Keith Urban), #VoteKelsea (Kelsea Ballerini), #VoteLauren (Lauren Alaina) or #VoteThomas (Thomas Rhett). You can cast up to 50 votes.

Never-before-seen combinations of superstars will hit center stage

The country music crossover is now a thing, and we will bring you one of the coolest tonight, when The Chainsmokers perform alongside Florida Georgia Line. Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood will perform a duet. Jason Derulo and Luke Bryan will reunite. Earth, Wind & Fire will appear alongside Lady Antebellum, while Peter Frampton will team up with Brothers Osborne.

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Daphne Finds Comfort in Daria as Nashville Returns to CMT on June 1

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

When Nashville returns to CMT from its mid-season break tonight, fans can expect more immersion into the fictional and fascinating country music scene of the show’s eponymous city. But the show takes a musically adventurous turn in this preview clip of Daphne (Maisy Stella), who is apparently a huge fan of MTV’s classic show Daria.

Presumably still reeling from the death of her mother, Rayna (Connie Britton), and struggling in school, Daphne stumbles out of the mainstream and befriends exuberant vagabond Liv (Odessa Adlon), who squats in a junk-laden abandoned industrial space alongside a posse of self-described “people that nobody cares about.”

When Liv interrupts a palm reading to calm a crying toddler with You’re Standing on My Neck, the Daria theme song, Daphne joins in amazed recognition.

“You’ve seen Daria?” Liv asks, impressed (the two teenagers were likely infants when the show last ran new episodes, in 2002), before rallying her motley housemates in a change jar-clanging singalong.

What do you think, Daria? Pretty cool, right?

via GIPHY

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Snoop Dogg, Flo Rida Introduce Airy New Hollywood Home for Eight Viacom Brands

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Viacom’s new West Coast headquarters opened last night in a raucous cascade of music and optimism, uniting the creative forces of eight major brands in a soaring, aspirational space at the heart of Hollywood.

“This new Hollywood facility reinforces our presence in the world’s entertainment capital, connecting us more deeply with the creative community and bringing inspiration for our employees, who help us deliver world-class entertainment and unforgettable stories to our audiences every day,” said Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish. “We wanted to create a space that encourages collaboration, creativity and innovation, and gives creators and employees the tools they need to do their best work.”

Bakish shared a huge stage at the launch party, addressing hundreds of employees between performances by Flo Rida and Snoop Dogg (posing as DJ Snoopadelic), star of VH1’s hit Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party and executive producer of MTV’s Mary + Jane. Deadline, Hollywood Reporter and Variety all posted vivid dispatches of the wild outdoor scene.

Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening
Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening
Stuart Stuart

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 26: A general view of atmosphere during the Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening on January 26, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Viacom) Read More

Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening
Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening
Stuart Stuart

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 26: Guests attend the Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening on January 26, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Viacom) Read More

Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening
Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening
Stuart Stuart

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 26: Shari Redstone, Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for Viacom, Inc attends the Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening on January 26, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Viacom) Read More

Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening
Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening
Stuart Stuart

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 26: Rapper Snoop Dogg performs at the Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening on January 26, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Viacom) Read More

Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening
Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening
Stuart Stuart

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 26: Rapper Flo Rida performs at the Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening on January 26, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Viacom) Read More

Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening
Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening
Stuart Stuart

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 26: Atmosphere at the Viacom Hollywood office grand opening on January 26, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Maury Phillips/Getty Images for Viacom) Read More

Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening
Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening
Stuart Stuart

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 26: (L-R) Rapper Flo Rida, Viacom Vice-Chairwoman Shari Redstone, Director and Cheif Liason Mayor's Office of Film and Television Production Kevin James and Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish attend Viacom Hollywood Offic… Read More

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CMT Releases First Nashville Trailer; Date of Sneak Peak

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

We teased Nashville back in September, when CMT released its first teaser of season five and announced a Jan. 5 debut date. The net has not only come back with the first official trailer for the series, but a gift for anxious fans: the first hour of the two-hour season premiere will air on Thursday, Dec. 15 at 9 p.m.

You can get more details on the intrigue and the excitement to expect here. But, really, you should be following @NashvilleCMT on Twitter or Facebook to make sure you get the latest updates as soon as they’re released.

Four Viacom Overachievers Make Cablefax List of Young Talent

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Cablefax recently laid out their annual tally of 100 Overachievers Under 30, and four Viacom employees made the list. This is a diverse and capable group. They line up social talent for marketing campaigns. They manage sprawling networks of digital and social channels. They coordinate programming strategies across linear and digital channels. They create custom co-branded campaigns for partners and networks.

And they are just getting started.

While they work across many of our networks and divisions – Epix, CMT, TV Land, and our Velocity in-house agency are all represented – a common thread of their workday seems to be the freedom to pursue creative solutions to novel challenges.

“I love the variety of campaigns I get to work on and the creative freedom I have to make each of them unique,” says Julie Feinerman, social media manager at Epix.

Each of the honorees was “excited,” “surprised,” “thrilled,” or “honored” to make the list, while pointing to the guidance of role models who helped them develop the work ethic and grit to achieve career success.

“My first boss at MTV, Jessica Zalkind, continues to be a mentor and #ladyboss that I admire,” says Lauren Elias, a social talent coordinator for Viacom Velocity. “She taught me that hard work, and going beyond just getting the job done are keys to success.”

In addition to Feinerman and Zalkind, CMT’s Kate Warburton and Velocity’s Brian O’Toole also represent Viacom on the annual Cablefax list. They will be honored at a reception later this month. Scroll down to learn a bit more about each of these Viacom standouts.

Young Viacom talent frequently makes these industry lists, with several, including Elias, making Cynopsis’ Rising Stars roster earlier this year. Cablefax frequently mines the company’s deep talent pool when it sorts out the best in the industry, including its recent lists of top minorities and most powerful women in cable.

LAUREN ELIAS, SOCIAL TALENT COORDINATOR, VIACOM VELOCITY

Lauren EliasTenure: 4 years

What she does: Discovers, casts, and manages social talent for Velocity projects, integrated marketing campaigns, and more

What she loves most about her job at Viacom: I love discovering new talent that our brand partners and network executive are excited about.

Her reaction when she found out she was named as a Cablefax Overachiever: I was super excited. It was all the more reason to continue working hard toward my career goals.

What she is most looking forward to about the networking reception on Dec. 14: Meeting like-minded colleagues who feel proud about their work.

Can you point to a mentor or role model who helped you achieve success so young? My first boss at MTV, Jessica Zalkind, who continues to be a mentor and #ladyboss that I admire.

What specific advice did they give you that stuck with you? She taught me that hard work, and going beyond just “getting the job done” are keys to success. I also have to thank my current boss, Tom DeNapoli, who always supports me, always trusts me, always champions me, and always teaches me.

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BET Leads With 5 of 10 Viacom Execs Named to Cablefax’s Most Powerful Women in Cable List

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

“You have women in these pages who have made it their mission to lift others up,” wrote Cablefax editor Amy Maclean in their November issue, which was dedicated to the most powerful women in cable. “Women who are pioneering technological innovation. Women who are shrewd negotiators. Women who are speaking up in boardrooms. Who knows… maybe one of the Most powerful Women in Cable will someday be elected to the most powerful office in the land.”

We are proud to note that 10 of those women – and three of the top 50 – work for Viacom. That half of these get-things-done executives come from BET, including CEO Debra Lee, is unsurprising, given that network’s reputation for recruiting women to direct some of its most important programs. Earlier this week, Essence wrote a salute to the outsized impact that black women show runners – including Being Mary Jane’s Erica Shelton Kodish – were having on the television landscape.

BET is hardly alone in celebrating women. CMT, whose senior vice president of operations, Suzanne Norman, made the list, recently launched its annual Next Women of Country to showcase the best new talent in a genre that remains male-dominated. Viacom hosts a resource group open to all employees that is committed to championing women’s interests, and the company regularly partners with organizations such as Safe Horizon and Joyful Heart Foundation that assist women in need and promote women’s rights.

Underscoring the diversity that powers Viacom, many of these women also appeared on Cablefax’s recent list of top minority executives: Lee, BET CMO and marketing executive vice president Vicky Free, and BET programming executive vice president Zola Mashariki. Two other BET executives – Maureen Guthman and Connie Orlando – made the adjacent “Influentials” list.

We congratulate these dedicated women and thank them for their tremendous contributions to Viacom’s ongoing success. Click through below to see why Cablefax chose each of these individuals as industry standouts.

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Who Needs Turkeys? CMT to Serve Up Chicken-Themed Treat for Thanksgiving Eve

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Have you ever heard a chicken being favorably compared to Paris Hilton?

Or being described as a warrior?

Or being analyzed for its behavior in its social cliques? Its cliques of, you know, other chickens?

Well, you will. And you will because you will watch CMT’s documentary Chicken People, a deeply engaging and human exploration of the surprisingly enormous world of prize chicken breeders. And when it’s all over, you will understand why the Ohio National Poultry Show is considered the Westminster of Chickens, and why the subjects of this film care so deeply about the competition that they dedicate enormous portions of their lives to cultivating the perfect fowl.

Critical reception has been strong since Chicken People, directed by Nicole Lucas Haimes, debuted at SXSW earlier this year before going on to screen at nearly a dozen other festivals, including Nashville, Seattle and Atlantic. Reviewers have responded favorably to the documentary’s success in distilling meaning from the sprawling, intricate and exacting world of competitive chicken breeding.

“As enthusiastic as [the other main characters] are, however, their narratives are overshadowed by the poignant story of Shari McCollough, a homemaker and mother of five (children, not chickens) from Crawford, Ind., who credits poultry breeding and competition with helping her overcome depression and alcoholism,” writes Variety’s Joe Leydon. “When she says, late in the documentary, ‘Chickens make me brave — they make me face fears head-on in life,’ her matter-of-fact sincerity carries an unexpectedly potent emotional wallop. Just as important, it encourages a viewer to consider just how common her attitude is among the other breeders.”

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CMT Celebrates Powerful New Sounds Coming from the Next Women of Country

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Since 2013, CMT has shown an annual spotlight on the remarkable breakthrough female talent on the country music scene with its Next Women of Country roster. Last week, the net released its 2016 list, and the women on it are awesome.

From the female trios of Runaway Jane and Post Monroe to a broad list of signed and unsigned solo artists, CMT is providing a platform through its NextWomen.CMT.com site for fans to check out the creativity, energy and emotive lyrical power pouring out of this group.

While women remain underrepresented in country music as a whole, efforts like this ongoing push by CMT hope to change that by constantly showcasing the outsized talents of this new generation. The net will complement their site with weekly exclusive Next Women of Country LIVE performances on CMT.com.

“We’re so thrilled to introduce this incredibly talented and diverse mix of female artists to the Next Women franchise,” said CMT Senior Vice President of Music Strategy and Talent Leslie Fram. “With the full support of the industry behind us, we continue to see this initiative make a real difference in propelling female artists into the spotlight.”

To see just how good this group is, check out the video previews of each of the 10 artists or groups of artists on the list below. You can follow #CMTNextWomen on Twitter for continual Next Women of Country Updates.

CAITLYN SMITH:

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