As a nod to Chris, the South's Biggest Idol Fan, there are a couple of interesting sideshows to tonight's part one of the big two-part finale when the world finds out whether Hollywood Pretty and Polished trumps Alabama Grits and Soul, or if voter turnout will exceed turnout in the last presidential election.

(Disclaimer: I have not been following Idol, and only watched my first episode last week. I must say, though, that I was thoroughly impressed by the three finalists, but I don't think that's what the show is really about. At any rate, I'm rooting for Taylor Hicks.)

It seems that American Idol is the destroyer of all who dare challenge in their time slot. Tonight's victim is the Academy of Country Music Awards. The ACM says that after this year, they are throwing in the towel:

The Red Sox won a World Series. Susan Lucci won an Emmy. Vandy knocked off the Vols in football.

But not even here in Sin City will anyone gamble on the Academy of Country Music Awards beating part one of a two-part "American Idol" finale in national TV ratings, especially after "Idol" trounced the country awards three years in a row.

The ACMs are throwing in the towel.

The Academy will work with CBS to air the awards show in late April next year to get it away from any "Idol" season ender, ACM board president Rod Essig told The Tennessean this past weekend.

"We will change that," vowed Essig, a powerful Music Row booking agent who counts Tim McGraw and Faith Hill among his clients.

"American Idol" has more than doubled the country music show's average audience in each of the last three years. In 2005, the "Idol" episode wasn't even a finale, but rather still had three contestants left; that show still clobbered the ACMs, drawing 19.4 million viewers nationwide to the ACMs' 8.3 million.

That's what us folks down here in the South would call a serious ass-whuppin', if you will pardon my French.

But one must wonder if the ACM is giving Idol too much credit and not taking enough of the blame themselves. First of all, Las Vegas? You're having a Country Music hoedown in Las Vegas? Las Vegas Nevada? Memo to the ACM:


Furthermore, what's up with some of these acts? Big and Rich? Please. You guys call this a Country Music awards show? What's more, the ACM dissed a Real Country Singer, who therefore decided not to show up for the awards:

Lee Ann Womack, nominated for three Academy of Country Music awards, won't be here tonight after her camp and the ACM clashed over whether she'd perform on the show.

The show's TV committee at first didn't offer Lee Ann a performance spot and then offered her a 90-second acoustic slot, her manager, Erv Woolsey, told me. By that time, Lee Ann had made other plans.

"They invited her last minute at the last meeting," he said.

"It would have been embarrassing for her to sit in the crowd with three nominations and not perform."

Erv said there are no hard feelings and Lee Ann's not angry.

But, he added, "If performers are not linked to nominations, why not just have a variety show?"

It sounds like that's exactly what they are putting on. In Las Vegas, no less. With Big and Rich. And worse, they went and dissed the Dixie Chicks, too!

Maybe all of this is why viewers will be tuning in to Idol. And Idol fans can gloat over the fact that the ACM awards will boast performances by a couple of Idol "hand-me-downs" (and I mean that in the nicest way), previous winners Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. Perhaps Idol finalist Katherine McPhee can perform a Dixie Chicks number tonight, and the circle of music industry life will be complete.

OK, then.