NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Country star Kelsea Ballerini is making a last-minute pivot to co-host the CMT Music Awards remotely after testing positive for COVID-19 days before the show.
Ballerini and actor Anthony Mackie were scheduled to host the Monday night awards show airing on CBS from Nashville. But on Monday morning, CMT and CBS announced that Ballerini would stay home. She is asymptomatic, and Ballerini said CMT is setting it up so she can perform and co-host from her home.
“It has been set up so that I can still safely co-host the awards and perform on the show tonight,” Ballerini said in a statement. “Not what we planned, but I’m ready to make lemonade with these lemons.”
The main contestant of the evening, Kane Brown, was asked to help Mackie co-host in person. Brown has hosted the fan-voted show twice, including with Ballerini last year.
“I’m honored that the CBS and CMT team asked me to step in as a co-host and I’m so happy to be back for a third bonus year,” Brown said in a statement. “Everyone worked hard to put on an amazing show for the fans and I’m thrilled to be working with Anthony and Kelsea and having a great night that celebrates country music.”
Mackie, who starred in Marvel’s “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” promises a fun night out. “Hosting the CMT Awards is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Mackie said in a statement. “I was thrilled to be able to do it with Kelsea Ballerini. Now I can co-host with Kelsea and my friend, Kane Brown. Get ready because it’s going to be a fun night!”
The CMT Music Awards will feature performances from Kenny Chesney, Mickey Guyton and Black Pumas, Cody Johnson, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Maren Morris and Ryan Hurd, Old Dominion, Carly Pearce, Cole Swindell and Lainey Wilson, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban . The Judds also reunite at the CMT Music Awards for their first major awards show in over two decades.
Underwood is the most awarded artist in CMT history with 23 prior wins and has a chance to extend his lead with nominations for Music Video of the Year and Collaborative Video of the Year for his duet with Jason Aldean, “If I Didn’t Love You.”