Kelsea Ballerini CMT Awards Drag Act Draws Just 2 FCC Complaints

Kelsea Ballerini's CMT Music Awards performance with drag queens had social media, and some country music fans, up in arms -- but, turns out, it was barely a blip on the FCC's radar.

You'll recall, the country singer had 4 queens from "RuPaul's Drag Race" share the stage with her at this year's awards ceremony -- and she was facing a lot of online backlash for involving them in her number.

However, TMZ has obtained the complaints filed with the Federal Communications Commission regarding Kelsea's moment ... and there were only two. For comparison, the FCC received 103 complaints about Rihanna's Super Bowl halftime show.

One came from Texas, complaining about "drag queens on a family show." The other came from Alaska, saying children shouldn't be exposed to drag, adding ... "We are no longer able to watch this station. We have children in our home that have no business being exposed to this filth."

As we reported, sources told us Kelsea stood by her performance despite all the flak she caught for it. We're told the appearances were fully planned, and it was Kelsea's idea to call in the drag backup.

She was also gettin' a good amount of praise online from the other side of the argument, too ... so we're assuming these 2 complaints aren't gonna sway her either.

Kelsea Ballerini Stands By CMT Performance with Drag Queens

Kelsea Ballerini doesn't regret her groundbreaking performance alongside drag queens on national television, and it definitely wasn't a surprise to showrunners ... TMZ has learned.

Sources with direct knowledge tell us ... the backlash Kelsea's getting for Sunday's CMT Music Awards moment -- having four "RuPaul’s Drag Race" queens come on stage during one of her performances -- is falling on deaf ears ... 'cause she doesn't regret it one bit.

We're told Kelsea fully stands by her decision to feature the drag queens ... which some folks in conservative circles have gone ballistic over -- accusing CMT of going woke.

FWIW, the drag queens' appearance was fully planned. Production sources tell TMZ ... both CMT and CBS were extremely supportive of the cameo and knew about it from the get-go ... we're also told they'd been part of rehearsals since Friday.

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One of the drag queens, Manila Luzon, says it was actually Kelsea's idea to involve them -- and she did so cause she's an ally. Manila says the drag queens were super happy with how things went and appreciate the network heads for giving them a platform in front of a new type of audience.

ML adds ... country music is moving forward with the rest of the world. The performance was a celebration of love and a celebration of artistry.


The drag queens weren't the only controversial part of the CMT Awards -- Kelsea's comments on gun control also drew the ire of some on the right.

Kelsea Ballerini HONORS NASHVILLE VICTIMS AT CMTs ... I Saw My Classmate Die in School Shooting Too


Kelsea Ballerini opened up the CMT Music Awards with a powerful speech ... a very personal tribute to the victims of the Nashville Covenant School shooting, and one that brought her to tears.

The country music star got emotional Sunday night as she opened the award show in Austin, Texas ... calling out the names of the 6 victims of Audrey Hale's rampage.

Kelsea started to break down when she added, "The community of sorrow over this and the 130 mass shootings in the U.S. this year alone stretches from coast to coast."

And, then she shared her own up close experience with gun violence in schools -- Kelsea recalled, "I wanted to personally stand up here and share this moment because on Aug. 21, 2008, I watched Ryan McDonald, my 15-year-old classmate at Central High School, lose his life to a gun in our cafeteria."

McDonald was fatally shot by a classmate at Kelsea's high school in Knoxville, TN -- it happened in a crowded cafeteria, in full view of several other students ... including Kelsea.

She hosted the CMTs with Kane Brown, and went on to dedicate the broadcast to the growing list of families, friends, survivors, witnesses and responders whose lives have been changed by such violence.

Kelsea closed her touching speech by praying for "real action that moves us forward together to create change for the safety of our kids and our loved ones."

2022 CMT Awards Big Names, Big Smiles Coming Together Behind The Scenes

The stars were big and bright at the CMT Awards ... but these behind-the-scenes shots show some of the best in the biz in country music -- and beyond -- coming together for some good ol' times!

The ceremony went down Monday at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium in Tennessee ... Jimmie Allen, Dennis Quaid, Kane Brown, Nelly, Maddie Marlow of Maddie & Tae and Johan Font were just some of the A-listers present during the show.

Jason Aldean and Mark Wystrach made sure to snap some pics after chatting it up ... Jason went on to win with Carrie Underwood for Collaborative Video of the Year and Video of the Year!

Miranda Lambert stole a kiss from her husband Brendan McLoughlin before taking the stage ... her song, "If I Was a Cowboy," was the Female video of the year.

Hannah Dasher and Jessie James Decker were rocking all-black backstage ... drinks in hand as the cameras flashed!

Marvel star Anthony Mackie and country singer Kelsea Ballerini hosted the show, although Kelsea had to work from home -- testing positive for COVID before the ceremony.

Dog The Bounty Hunter CMT Not Buying Laundrie Hunt Show

Scratch CMT off the list of possible landing spots for Dog the Bounty Hunter's return to TV ... despite his history with the channel.

Sources familiar with the situation tell TMZ .... Dog hasn't made a pitch of a Brian Laundrie show to CMT just yet, but it sounds like he shouldn't waste his time, because we're told the network would not be interested.

One reason for passing ... we're told CMT has a renewed commitment to country music programming -- it's in the name after all -- so the network would likely not be doing another series with Dog in the future.

Dog fans will recall ... he did a spinoff show with CMT, "Dog and Beth: On the Hunt," debuting in 2013 and running 3 seasons until 2015, after which Beth announced they were leaving CMT programming.

TMZ broke the story ... Dog has TV offers rolling in now that he's on the hunt for Brian as part of the Gabby Petito case, with multiple networks expressing interest in resurrecting a show with him as the star.

@duanedogchapman / Instagram

As we've seen, Dog's been willing to get dirty on the manhunt for Brian -- but so far, he hasn't found the guy or a home for his show.

Dog's OG show aired on A&E, but that network's already passed on his Brian Laundrie show pitch.

While he doesn't necessarily have to find Laundrie to score a TV deal ... it sure would help him get a contract faster. For now, all we know is Dog won't be leashed to A&E or CMT.

Morgan Wallen 'Enough is Enough' Billboards Go Up ... 'Loyal Fans' Want Him Back!!!

A group of loyal Morgan Wallen fans believe he's been punished enough since casually dropping the n-word back in January ... so they're deploying a new round of billboards to protest the country music biz shunning him.

The fan-funded billboards went up in Nashville this week, spearheaded by a woman named Darleen Ingram, and the message is pretty simple -- "The Fans Are Speaking / Enough Is Enough."

The timing of the 7 new billboards coincides with the CMT Music Awards, which air Wednesday night. Wallen's been banned from the awards and didn't receive any nominations.

That's apparently not sitting right with his loyal fans, as their billboards add ... "Music Industry, We Want to Be Heard!"

The billboards also reference the Bible verse Mark 11:25, which says ... "And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."


We broke the story ... someone in Wallen's neighborhood shot video of him using the n-word after a night out partying with his friends, and the fallout was pretty swift. He was dropped by radio stations and his talent agency, suspended by his record label, and banned from several award shows.

However, his popularity still soared and he even managed to win awards at events from which he'd been banned. Morgan apologized and promised to work on bettering himself and stayed out of the public eye for months ... before returning to the stage last month.

Clearly, his loyal, billboard-funding fans want more Morgan ... and they're demanding country music let him back into the party.

Lindsey Vonn Dating P.K. Subban ... Finally Go Public at CMTs

Fitting that Lindsey Vonn and P.K. Subban finally made their long-rumored coupling Insta official in Smashville Wednesday night, isn't it??

There have been rumors about the two for months ... but Vonn and the NHL star finally publicly confirmed their relationship last night ... hitting the red carpet together at the CMT Music Awards.

The two have been spotted hangin' out a lot recently ... taking in a Red Sox game and a Celtics playoff game last month.

They also hit business classes together at Harvard last week ... and Vonn was at one of P.K.'s playoff games last month in Nashville too.

But, they've successfully avoided taking a coupley photo until Wednesday night, when Vonn made sure to caption their selfie with a yellow heart.

Maybe it was the Keith Urban love songs that did it??


Jason Derulo I'm Stickin' to Country Music! ... For Now


Jason Derulo is going to be doing a lot more rhyming with "drinkin'" and "thinkin'" because he's got a big country music project in the works.

Derulo's already got several country music collabs in the can. He won a CMT Music Award this year for his crossover duet, "Want to Want Me," with Luke Bryan, and is working with Hank Williams Jr. and Florida Georgia Line on the new "Monday Night Football" opening theme.

Those are some big projects but, when we got Derulo at LAX Monday, he teased something even bigger.

'Party Down South' Cast Hey Y'all ... We Got HUGE Pay Raises

Break out the Bud Light and the cheez whiz ... the cast of "Party Down South" is celebrating 'cause their network just folded like a cheap suit and they scored HUGE pay raises ... TMZ has learned.

As we've reported, the 8 cast members had demanded 1,400% pay raises -- from a measly $500 an episode to $7,500 -- but CMT refused to budge ... until now.

We're told everyone settled on a 400% increase -- to $2,000 an episode. But CMT sweetened the pot by giving the cast a ratings bonus, and it's likely they'll collect on it ... the show is the most successful ever on the network.

So CMT announced Friday the show is officially coming back for Season 2.

You know what that means -- more backyard pee parties!

'Party Down South' Money War Ain't Over!!! Cast Threatening Strike

12:30 PM PT -- It's getting real ... a source connected with the show tells TMZ, "It would be a shame for them to walk away from their big break. Fortunately for the viewers, there are plenty of kids in the South."

The cast of CMT's "Party Down South" is NOT giving up on its war for fatter paychecks -- despite what the network is claiming -- in fact, they've now banded together ... and are threatening to derail the entire show if their money demands aren't met.

As we reported, show reps had claimed the salary war was over -- telling us the cast had agreed to continue with Season 2 production per their original contract ... at a rate roughly equal to their Season 1 rate of $500 per episode.

The cast wanted a raise to $7,500 each per episode -- but CMT refused to budge ... and reps for the show told us the cast had given up its fight.

But now we've learned ... that's not true -- lawyers representing the cast just sent a letter to CMT and 495 Productions, claiming the contracts initially signed by the cast weren't fair.

The lawyers claim the cast signed extremely unfair contracts without lawyer help, and they want new contracts drawn up asap. Among their demands ... way more money.

Season 2 is scheduled to begin production shortly -- but the cast is refusing to participate until CMT comes to the table. Reps for the show tell us, if the cast doesn't shoot, they're in breach of their contract ... end of story.

'Party Down South' Southern Rebellion Ends in Surrender!

The South will apparently rise again -- "Party Down South" is coming back for Season 2 now that the cast is waving the white flag of surrender in its pay dispute ... TMZ has learned.

We broke the story ... the "PDS" regulars were stonewalling ... refusing to work unless CMT paid them $7,500 an episode -- a hefty 1,400% pay raise from the paltry 500 bucks for Season 1.

But sources close to the show tell us ... CMT refused to budge -- even though "PDS" is the network's most successful show EVER.

We're told, the network is being hard-ass ... saying the cast signed a contract through season 2, so that's the way it is ... the network's way or the highway.

BUT ... CMT dangled a carrot, promising bigger paychecks in Season 3.

Note to cast: That's the oldest trick in the book.

'Party Down South' Stars YEE HAW! We Want 1,400% Pay Raises

This oughta jar your preserves -- the "Party Down South" hillbillies are getting smuggier than "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" ... demanding a 1400% pay increase.

We're told cast members were pulling $500 each per episode for Season 1 -- but now that the show's a success, cast sources say the stars are banding together, demanding $7,500 per episode.

They have some ammo ... "PDS" has quickly become CMT's most successful program ever.

Our sources say CMT is hesitant to cough up the money, but the stars want their raises finalized before they shoot a single frame for Season 2.

We got the cast out Thursday night ... and they clearly had booze -- not bills -- on their brains.

'Party Down South' Star VIDEO Captures Burglary

TMZ just got VIDEO OF the "Party Down South" star who was busted Sunday in Louisiana for burglarizing a car ... and it's clear this is not a drunken escapade ... it was coldly premeditated.

Check out Lyle Boudreaux scoping out the car. He seems to know it's unlocked and opens the door without hesitation and makes a beeline for the driver's purse. He then takes her credit card out of her wallet and prances away ... not looking drunk at all.

Boudreaux was nabbed in a nearby bar after using the credit card to buy drinks.

Boudreaux was arrested for felony burglary of a vehicle. And judging from the video, he's in big trouble.

'Party Down South' Star Busted for Mardi Gras Burglary

"Party Down South" star Lyle Boudreaux celebrated Mardi Gras in true redneck fashion -- in the pokey -- Louisiana cops busted him after he allegedly stole a credit card to fund his drunken revelry.

The police chief in Maurice, LA tells TMZ ... Boudreaux was at a Mardi Gras parade outside of Lafayette when he allegedly went into an unlocked car ... rifled through a purse in the car ... and stole a credit card from a wallet.

We're told Boudreaux tossed the wallet on the ground next to the car ... someone saw the whole thing and contacted the owner. Cops were called ... and found Lyle drinking at a nearby saloon. Cops say he used the credit card to open up a bar tab.

The 28-year-old was charged with burglary of a vehicle ... and eventually released on $10K bond.

Lyle needs that raise from CMT more than ever.

'Party Down South' Cast CMT Plays Hardball ... You Wanna Walk, There's The Door

The hard-drinking, hard-partying rednecks of "Party Down South" are a dime a dozen as far as CMT is concerned ... because the network is prepared to cut some of 'em loose if they can't agree on new contracts.

TMZ broke the story ... cast members are holding out for raises before Season 2 starts shooting. Right now they're only pulling down $500 per episode.

Sources close to the show tell us CMT had a conference call last Friday with the cast and their newly hired managers -- and one of the stars, Mattie Breaux, went off ... bitching about salaries, and a plan to shoot seasons 2 and 3 back-to-back.

We're told Mattie eventually hung up, but producers were unfazed -- and are now saying if Mattie wants to quit ... they won't stop her.

We've also learned the cast will get $1000 each to shoot a reunion episode next week ... and they're hoping the new contracts are signed by then.

Now, here's why we're all pulling for Tiffany to get a rise raise ...

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