Hollywood Exclusive - Lauren Alaina Talks Fox New Year's Eve Show, Hopes for 2012
"American Idol" sweetheart Lauren Alaina certainly won't be on her own when she celebrates New Year's Eve in Las Vegas as part of Fox's "American Country New Year's Eve Live."
"I'm bringing quite a few people with me -- my mama and daddy; my brother and his girlfriend; and my three best girlfriends from home," the Rossville, Ga., native tells us. Alaina, who turned 17 last month, adds, "I don't really know what I can do in Vegas. Maybe my parents can win some money."
Alaina has taken barely any time off since she first auditioned for "Idol's" tenth season in 2010. She wound up runner-up to fellow teenage country phenom Scotty McCreery in May -- and won the hearts of music fans across the land. Since then, she's toured with the "Idol" finalists; performed on the Grand Ole Opry stage (her dream come true) and at other big-time gigs; and released her first album, "Wildflower," which debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200. Come Jan. 20, she hits the road again, with Jason Aldean's My Kind of Party Tour.
"'American Idol' kind of prepared me to work really hard all the time, seven days a week," Alaina says. "It was like boot camp for everything happening now. I'm good at staying out on the road -- and I wouldn't want to take a break and miss an opportunity if one of those once-in-a-lifetime deals came along."
Outside of the Party tour, she's not sure what's ahead in 2012. "I just want it to be as good a year as 2011 has been. It's been such an incredible year -- so many doors have opened to me that I dreamed of opening. Literally everything I've ever wanted to do, I've been able to do in the past year."
So what's next? Has Hollywood come calling?
"I have discussed that a little bit," Alaina replies. "Someday I'd love to do acting, but I feel I'm not really ready for it in my career."
Right now, of course, she's focused on "American Country New Year's Eve Live." Comedian and actor Rodney Carrington hosts the show along with "Pawn Stars" personalities Rick Harrison and Austin "Chumlee" Russell. Rodney Atkins, the Eli Young Band and Toby Keith are among the performers, along with Alaina.
"It's such an honor to be part of it," she says. "I'm really excited. I haven't gone to that many concerts, but Rodney Atkins -- he's one of them I went to, out to the Riverbend Festival near my town. So now, to get to perform at the same place he's going to be at is really exciting. And I'll get to have my daddy meet Rodney Carrington. He's a fan."
GETTING IT WRITE: Melissa Gilbert, who has a "Little House on the Prairie" scrapbook due for publication in the Spring, has also been busy penning her first children's book. "It's about my French Bulldog, Josephine," she reveals.
"Josephine and her best friend, who is a little girl about 6 years old, who's named Daisy. Josephine has a wicked underbite, and the little girl has an overbite and freckles -- it's a little autobiographical," says Melissa, remembered as "Little House's" freckled young heroine.
"So it's called 'Daisy and Josephine: the Adventures of Overbite and Underbite,' and it's about how Josephine helps Daisy navigate her way through life because Daisy just has a daddy and no mommy. Her mommy went to heaven."
Melissa says she initially shopped the book as a different Josephine story.
"When I met with Simon & Schuster, they asked me if I could find a way to put myself into the book -- and I thought they were absolutely nuts. But then, after the beginning of the year passed, I thought, 'I need to write something for children whose families are unconventional.' And what better way to do it," says the actress, whose father died when she was 10, "than using my own experience, having lost a parent at a young age."
TWO FOR TUBE: Just when you think the creative forces of television have run out of fresh ideas, something new comes up. For instance, there's Paramount's "Bad Fairy" pilot, about a maverick one of those storybook creatures named Chloe. Among other things, Chloe evidently has a bad attitude about not passing her Fairyland exams.
Then we have a Comedy Central pilot that's already set to be entered into the New York Television Festival. It's about the eccentric leader of a West Asian country who wants to learn about the U.S. -- and gets an American community college professor to come and teach him. The two become friends and, well, we'll have to wait and see what happens.
© COPYRIGHT 2011 MARILYN BECK AND STACY JENEL SMITH
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