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TV Preview: Garth takes swan song to television

Wednesday, November 14, 2001

By John Hayes, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

First, he was a struggling singer/songwriter from Oklahoma.

"Garth Brooks
Coast to Coast Live"

WHEN: 10 tonight and the following two Wednesdays on CBS.

Recording Review

Brooks is back with an album sure to be popular


Then he was Garth Brooks, international country superstar and best-selling singer of the 1990s.

For a while he tweaked country-snubbing critics as dark, disturbed alt-rocker Chris Gains.

Now he wants to be Mr. Mom, a stay-at-home dad who drives his kids to soccer practice and still has the time and money to dabble in the executive production of films and TV shows.

But before he slips into the John Lennon-homebody stage of his career, Brooks wants to go out with a bang -- actually, four bangs and a few smaller kabooms.

First, Capitol Records yesterday released "Scarecrow," an album that Brooks promises will be his last, with a simultaneous premiere on major country radio stations and a global Q&A Webcast.

Tonight, CBS airs the first in a series of three live specials that give television audiences VIP seats to three Brooks concerts. The cameras will peek in on one hour of a longer Brooks show already in progress at the Los Angeles Forum, with special guest Keb Mo'.

"Garth Brooks: Coast to Coast" continues at 10 p.m. next Wednesday in Norfolk, Va., from the flight deck of the U.S.S. Enterprise, loaded with sailors and airmen returning home from battle in the Middle East. The third special, 10 p.m. Nov. 28, originates from South Padre, Texas. Brooks and CBS haven't yet announced the other special guests -- musical and non-musical -- who will perform with Brooks and his band.

Combined with a coming string of TV talk show appearances, Brooks' swan song is likely to be one of the biggest entertainment media blitzes of the year.

"In November of last year, we announced our retirement with one album left to make for the company," said Brooks in recent teleconference. " 'Scarecrow' is that album. You can't have a family and do this 26 hours a day, [which is] how we've lived the last 10 years of our lives. And popping up every so often just ain't enough for me. So we've been offered this gift by CBS. ... This allows me to do the show, get home late that night and take [the kids] to school the next morning. It's quite a gift."

The network was unable to wrap up its original offering -- a summer replacement series of seven half-hour specials -- because of delays in the release of "Scarecrow." When CBS's low-rated drama series "Wolf Lake" was sent on hiatus, it opened the successive Wednesday slots for Brooks.

"Their first thought was, 'Garth can do this,' and I said, 'Whoa! Garth can't do this,'" he said. "It's got to be the event. We're going to have special guests come on that we're only going to announce when we're there. Some of them are known for other things but happen to play music, too. ... When we get to Norfolk ... in front of [a strictly military crowd] we get to say, from us, a free nation that gets to sleep in our own beds under a free sky, thank you very much."

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