Country awards arriving

From country singers kicking up their cowboy-booted heels to wannabe stars hitting the Strip, it’s a whirlwind week for TV production.

The rhinestone cowboys and cowgirls, for example, giddy up to the MGM Grand Garden arena for CBS’ Academy of Country Music Awards, which kicks off at 5 p.m. Sunday. (At least for folks in the arena; CBS tape-delays the live telecast until 8 p.m. for us Pacific time zone types.)

It’s ACM’s 43rd annual awards ceremony, but the sixth in Las Vegas — and the third at the MGM Grand after the show’s move from Mandalay Bay.

A redesigned set that’s “got a little more flash” and is “very similar to what’s on the Strip” will enliven the show, according to executive producer Richard A. “RAC” Clark of Dick Clark Productions. (Yes, he’s named after his broadcast-legend dad, who’s expected to turn up on this year’s telecast.)

In addition, the show will be in high-definition and 5.1 surround sound for the first time, so it’ll be “prettier to watch and nicer to hear,” Clark notes. “It’s a big thing for us.”

‘Talent’ tour: NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” was scheduled to tape Sunday at Planet Hollywood’s Theatre for the Performing Arts.

But the show’s sticking around through Thursday to shoot sequences for “Vegas Week” (formerly “Boot Camp Week”).

Showbiz wannabes who survived auditions in 14 cities across the U.S. will compete for semi-final spots, according to executive producer James Sunderland.

“We have hundreds of people coming,” he notes. “It’s make-or-break for them.”

During the shoot, prospective performers will “experience Vegas” and “see what the city’s all about,” Sunderland explains. “Las Vegas is basically the best place in the world to be doing this show.”

Debunking duo: Rio headliners Penn & Teller are back at a local studio through Tuesday, wrapping five days’ worth of wraparound segments for the sixth season of their Emmy-nominated Showtime series “Penn & Teller: Bullshit!”

The 10 episodes question conventional wisdom on topics from dolphins to pornography. When the show’s new season begins June 19, the series will become Showtime’s longest-running program, reports P&T spokesman Glenn Alai.

Back to the ‘Future’: Las Vegas’ desert sprawl will be part of “The American Future: A History,” a four-part documentary featuring award-winning historian Simon Schama.

Britain’s Oxford Film and Television is expected to shoot Vegas vistas from the Sunrise Mountain area and the Interstate 15-Las Vegas Beltway junction for the series, which is scheduled to air here around election time. (Schama’s book of the same title will be published Sept. 2.)

Carol Cling’s Shooting Stars column appears Mondays. Contact her at (702) 383-0272 or e-mail her at

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