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The Dixie Chicks dominate the Country Music Awards

Plus, ”Dark Angel”’s ratings soar, the Nicole Kidman – Ewan McGregor flick is delayed, and more

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Emily Robison, Dixie Chicks, ...
Chicks: Paul Smith/Feature Flash/Retna

AWARDS The Dixie Chicks have conquered another sphere. Natalie Maines, Martie Seidel, and Emily Robison dominated the 34th annual Country Music Awards, which were held last night at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville. The crossover collective — whose ”Wide Open Spaces” was recently certified diamond (10 million in sales) — took home four prizes, including Entertainer of the Year, Music Video of the Year, Vocal Group of the Year and, of course Album of the Year. Faith Hill and hubby Tim McGraw each took home an award for Female and Male Vocalist respectively, while Lee Ann Womack was honored for Single of the Year. The three hour ceremony was broadcast nationwide on CBS. It was a grand ole ratings hoe-down.

RATINGS ”Dark Angel” kicked serious butt on Tuesday night. Fox‘s controversial decision to air the James Cameron sci-fi show about a nubile, genetically enhanced airhead against the Gore – Bush debate paid off with ”Titanic” size ratings. The heavily hyped two hour pilot scored an average of 17.3 million viewers, the best Tuesday night premiere for a Fox show ever. Meanwhile, the debates pulled in a total of 46.6 million viewers on all four major networks and cable outlets combined, including Fox and NBC‘s tape delay broadcasts. Still, only 36 million tuned to actually watch the debates while they occurred, a record low for a presidential face-off. Good thing Cameron opted not to endow Jessica Alba‘s character with political savvy.

REEL DEAL No Oscar competition for Baz Luhrmann this year. Twentieth Century Fox has decided not to release ”Moulin Rouge” until summer 2001. We had expected to see the much buzzed about musical starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor before Christmas, but Fox heads say they prefer to release it during the equally competitive May – August period, according to Variety. A studio spokesperson said execs were so ”blown away” by early cuts of the film that they thought it deserved greater care in postproduction. Ah, yes, a song and dance extravaganza set in 1899 makes a perfect anecdote to fireworks and baseball games.

COPY CATS Robbie Williams and cowriter Guy Chambers are finding out that Woody Guthrie‘s songs are not their songs at all. A London High Court ruled that the artists ”substantially copied” a Guthrie tune on ”Jesus and the Camper Van,” a single featured on Williams’ 1999 U.S. debut, ”The Ego Has Landed.” The complicated case stems from a lawsuit filed by New York’s Ludlow Music, Inc, which is responsible for Guthrie’s catalog. Apparently, the two borrowed a line from a Loudon Wainwright III, which credited a Guthrie song entitled ”New York Town.” The English pair then credited Wainwright on ”Jesus” but neglected to mention its original source. And what was the immortal line? Guthrie’s went: ”Every good man gets a little hard luck sometimes.” Wainwright’s restructuring was: ”Every son of God gets a little hard luck sometimes, especially when he goes ’round saying he is the way.” And Williams’ final flourish was: ”I suppose even the Son of God gets it hard sometimes, especially when he goes ’round saying ‘I am the way.”’ And English pop stars get it even harder sometimes.

CASTING Robin Williams may be picking up Jim Carrey‘s leftovers. Variety reports that he’s likely to star in a Danny DeVito comedy ”Death to Smoochie.” Williams will play Rainbow Randolph, a Dinosaur suit wearing kid’s TV star, who is fired for accepting bribes and replaced by a foam rhino named Smoochie. Jim Carrey had apparently shown an interest in the role, but decided not to take it. A wise man, indeed.

DEATH Ben Orr, cofounder of the Cars died in his Atlanta home Tuesday night. The rocker, best known for singing the Cars hits ”Drive” and ”My Best Friend’s Girl”, had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was 45.