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'American Idol' bits: Kellie Pickler interview, Carrie Underwood in Shape

Hey, "Idol" buds! I am leaving you guys with this week's "Idol" blog entry while I'm overseas. I'll be back November 1. We are 10 weeks away from the show's final season. I spoke with Kellie Pickler before I left to promote her reality show on CMT. I talked to her before there was reports she would be hosting a talk show. As always Deirdre and Co. will provide breaking "Idol" news in the comments section.

By RODNEY HO/, originally filed Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Plucky and goofy Kellie Pickler, after she ended her time on "American Idol" in 2006,was inundated with acting and reality show offers, more so than record deals.

She turned them all down - for nearly a decade.

"My number one passion was country music," Pickler said in a recent interview. "I wanted to be part of that family."

She generated several hits and became a respected figure in Nashville.

Only two years ago did she first dip her toes in reality TV by taking on "Dancing With the Stars." Result: she won! Then earlier this year, Ryan Seacrest and CMT finally convinced her to do a reality show focused exclusively on her aptly called "I Love Kellie Pickler," because really, who doesn't love Kellie Pickler?

She felt close to CMT, which complements her country music image. And Seacrest? There's a comfort and trust level there as well. "It makes sense," she said. "He's not a curve ball. He has one of the most incredible work ethics I've ever witnessed. I want to learn from him."

She fashions the reality show to be akin to "I Love Lucy" in its madcap style.

"No one will ever be Lucy but we wanted to try to marry that atmosphere, that energy, with 'Friends.' She gets in shenanigans with her friends. I have my share of Ethels! 'I Love Lucy' and 'Friends' are two of my favorite shows. It's really neat."

Country music songwriter/producer Kyle Jacobs, who married Pickler five years ago, will be featured heavily on the show.

"I am pretty much the luckiest man alive because I'm married to Kellie Pickler," Jacobs said as way of introduction on the first episode.

The first episode introduces the world to the couple and they attend the CMT Music Awards, where "The Walking Dead" star Norman Reedus makes a cameo on "I Love Kellie Pickler." "I kind of feel like a turd in a punch bowl," Jacobs said with self deprecation. "The camera always catches me in mid smile."

The most adorable thing is he's from Minnesota and still struggles to understand her syrupy North Carolinian accent. When she says, "I hope your wife won't mind," he thinks she said, "I hope your waffleman." Then she tried a terrible Minnesota accent.

The second episode, Jacobs allows Pickler to consider buying live chickens. (She loves animals!)

In the interview, she noted, "We are crazy about each other. We are each other's No. 1 priority."

She said they take pride in the company they keep and try to stay humble and not get sucked into the entertainment vortex. And she has tried to surround herself with trusted confidants who will tell her the truth as opposed to "yes men."

(The trailer is below).

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Pickler said she created boundaries on the show to mitigate any chance her relationship with her husband might be negatively impacted by the intrusion. One big boundary: no cameras in the bedroom. She also decided to have no family members or kids this first season. Instead, it mostly features her husband and their friends willing to be on camera.

Whether this show works or not, Pickler knows she has plenty of opportunities for TV. Her visits to "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" are always a delight. (She said she has been on at least 13 times to date and will certainly return to promote this show.)

After I talked to her, there were reports she would be hosting a new lifestyle talk show with Faith Hill as executive producer.

"I’m going to keep doing what I’m going to branch out to other things," Pickler said, seeing Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire as her role models. "They branched into television and film and Broadway. Dolly has a theme park! It's about building your brand and not necessarily narrowing yourself to a song. You can do it all!"

Pickler enjoys occasional visits on "The View" but isn't big talking politics, where there is too much ignorance and ugliness.

And while Fox's "Knock Knock Live" failed miserably over the summer, she said her brief experience of giving prizes away to people was fun.

Pickler isn't the type of person to get upset over shows that don't work out. "These are first-world problems," she said. "Champagne problems. People are starving and eating out of dumpsters. Perspective is everything."


Carrie Underwood is featured in this month's Shape magazine.

Here's the press release:

Nashville native Carrie Underwood is 32 and a total music and fashion powerhouse…all while seriously rocking it as a new mom! As she and her hockey player hubby Mike Fisher enjoy time with 10-month-old Isaiah, she has a new album – her fifth studio CD Storyteller – ready for release at the end of the month, continues to design her line of super-stylish workout wear -- so popular it made it to September’s NYC Fashion Week stages – AND she’ll be front and center co-hosting the Country Music Awards with Brad Paisley on November 4th. There are so many reasons to love this leading lady, and SHAPE naturally wanted to chat about what keeps her feeling and looking her best throughout all of these thrilling successes. Highlights from the interview include:

On post-baby body love:

“After I had Isaiah, my goal was to take control of my body again. I was lucky: I gained only 30 pounds, which is the recommended amount, and I exercised throughout my pregnancy. I did have a C-section, which meant waiting six weeks before working out. Within 20 days, though, I was able to begin walking slowly on the treadmill and around my neighborhood. It felt so good to be active! Now we box and we hike trails, among other things. I like to continually mix up my routines to stay motivated.”

On her favorite way to work out:

“My favorite workout is Tabata, which I can do at home in about a half hour. I’m in love with it! It’s hard, but it really works. I choose seven different exercises, like squats, lunges, or pushups, and do eight rounds of each – 20 seconds on, 20 seconds off for eight rounds. It really revs up my metabolism. When I’m done, I can handle anything.”

On what athleisure means to her:

“Since I exercise almost every day, I like wearing clothes that look just as good on the street as they do at the gym. I’ve always been an athletic-wear fanatic, but everything I owned was either super-functional and not cute, or really frilly and not right for my workout. I need exercise clothing that I can actually work out in but that also looks great if I meet a friend for coffee afterward. That’s why I created Calia…and now I wear it everywhere.”

On her overnight belly-flattening trick:

“I’m vegan and I love bread, but recently, I started making dinner a breadless meal. I’ll have a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, and I’ll make a sandwich on Ezekiel bread for lunch, but in the evening I’ll have protein and vegetables and no bread. When I wake up, my belly is flat!”

On finding her calm:

“I think it’s important to sit quietly every day for 10 minutes. In the morning, I enjoy my cup of coffee and plan the day in my head to be ready for it. And sometimes at night, I sip a glass of red wine and just relax. I’ve learned to give myself a break.”

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About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.