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Kristen Bell, Toby Keith: CMT Awards Are ‘Wide Open’

Getty Images for CMT

The CMT Music Awards are only hours away, but while many of the artists are undoubtedly battling a case of the nerves right now, the show’s two co-hosts — Toby Keith and Kristen Bell — are cool as cucumbers.

“It’s not as scripted,” Toby explains. “You can just kind of hang out. We’ve got some guidelines to go by, but it’s wide open.”

“I am a country music fan,” Kristen adds. “I’ve presented at a variety of country music awards shows in the past because I am a fan. I don’t know how I got here. They invited me, and I squealed! I obviously said yes. I’d never been to Nashville before, so I’m very excited.”

The CMT Awards mark the actress’ debut as a host, but Toby is a seasoned pro. “I hosted [the CMT Music Awards] several years ago with Pam Anderson, and I guess I’m back on the cycle again,” jokes the “Red Solo Cup” singer.

Toby may have received plenty of awards and trophies in his career that has spanned more than 20 years, but he is especially a fan of tonight’s honors. “I’m particularly fond of this awards show because videos have been a great big part of my career,” acknowledges the 50-year-old. “I was able to grow my career to be able to express myself not only through music but video. They’re really nice. I’ve got a lot of CMT Awards in my office at home. They always put together a great show. It’s a different forum. To me, it’s not as sterile as the other awards shows. It’s more, hang out and hang loose.”

His petite co-host is looking forward to the show for an entirely different reason. “It’s really fun to host something, because you get to formulate an arc in your wardrobe,” the blond beauty notes of her upcoming costume changes. “It’s really silly and girly, but I had a lot of fun putting it together.”

Kristen may best be known for her film and TV gigs, including her role as the leading lady in the TV series “Veronica Mars,” but the 32-year-old’s love for country music runs deep. “My mom sang a lot of Patsy Cline around the house,” she explains. “She had a lot of Garth Brooks CDs. She was into country music, so I played a lot in her discman before I had my own collection.”

Kristen adds that the format is one that she finds especially comforting. “The songs are so relatable,” she continues. “Their ideas are simple and their melodies and harmonies are pure. Not really simple, but very relatable ideas … Every time I hear a country song, it makes me laugh, because I can consider myself in that position. That doesn’t happen with every other music for me.”

The CMT Music Awards will air live on CMT tonight (June 6) at 8:00 PM ET from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. In addition to the televised show, which will include performances by Carrie Underwood, Lady Antebellum, Kenny Chesney, the Zac Brown Band and Luke Bryan, a live concert will occur simultaneously outside the venue, featuring performances by Eric Church, Brad Paisley and Hank Williams, Jr.

Watch Toby’s ‘Red Solo Cup’ Video
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