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AETN preemption bites Trout Fishing 

The Arkansas Educational Television Network preempted a planned showing of a taped concert by Trout Fishing in America two weeks ago, subbing the often-broadcast “Celtic Woman” special in its place. The band, which was nominated in early December for its third Grammy Award, this one for the album that accompanies the taped concert, was disappointed, its manager told us last week.

Kathy Atkinson, programming director for AETN, which taped the concert in February as part of its “AETN Presents” series, says the show was pulled because tickets for a planned concert by Trout Fishing were no longer available.

There were no tickets available because there was never a concert set, says Dick Rinko, manager of the band. There was talk of a benefit concert when Trout Fishing’s Keith Grimwood and Ezra Idlet were in the AETN studios Dec. 6 to help AETN celebrate 40 years, he says, but nothing came of the discussion, as AETN told Rinko they had staffing problems handling a concert.

Now, it’s not like Trout Fishing in America was completely snubbed by AETN; the taped concert at Reynolds Performance Hall in Conway featuring the Northwest-Arkansas based duo was shown on Dec. 2 and Dec. 6. It’s just that fans tuned in on a later date expecting to see the show and it wasn’t there, and nobody bothered to tell the band of the preempting. And, as of last week, Rinko said, he hadn’t heard from AETN, though he wrote a letter to the network chief, Alan Weatherly.

It seems strange, too, considering TFIA got the Grammy nod a day after being in the AETN studio. Groups relish exposure especially after award nominations such as the Grammys.

“We were disappointed the show wasn’t aired, especially since we had been there that Wednesday (Dec. 6) and participated in the AETN pledge drive and there was much talk about the program guide and the show coming up again,” Rinko said.

Atkinson said “AETN Presents: Front Row with Trout Fishing in America” will air again, likely in February. The eclectic folk band will be at the Grammys that month thanks to its new album, “My Best Day.” The AETN-produced DVD from the concert will be available soon; order it from the group’s website at www.troutmusic.com.

Rinko said, “Although we’re disappointed, I can say we’ve had a pleasant experience working with AETN, though certainly there are things that can be worked through. It’s a nonprofit, and we love public television and jumped at the opportunity to work with them. It seemed to be a win-win situation.”

We’re guessing AETN probably had more promotional interest in showing “Celtic Woman” in mid-December, anyway, since it will be sponsoring a return engagement by the five-woman Irish troupe and their band April 25 at Robinson Center Music Hall as a benefit for the network.

AETN recently filmed the Cate Brothers in a studio concert, and the taping went so well and the Cates had so much music that an hour show now is planned, according to AETN’s Kathy Atkinson.

Originally planned to fit a half-hour window on Wednesdays, the show now will premiere at 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16, followed by an airing at 9 p.m. Monday, Feb. 19 and at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25.

The Cate Brothers announced their retirement from live performances this past fall.

The sellout crowd of 14,134 at Alltel Arena for Trans-Siberian Orchestra was a bookend to a huge concert season for Alltel Arena that began with George Strait’s record sellout in February. In between, the arena enjoyed huge turnouts from everything from the Rolling Stones to Brooks and Dunn to the Cheetah Girls, making it the best 12-month stretch for the facility since it opened.

Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band on Feb. 10 is the first big concert scheduled for 2007, followed by a return of the Blue Man Group and the updated (2.0 version) of their “How to be a Rock Star” show on Feb. 18. The first big arena event, though, is a return of the Professional Bull Riders tour on Jan. 5-6 (7:30 p.m. and $15-$40 each night), followed by the Harlem Globetrotters on Jan. 11 (7 p.m., $15-$80). Ticketmaster (975-7575) is handling ticket sales.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra promised a return for Christmastime 2007, which we expect will sell out again, and we’re told the Seger show had a huge first-day sale, one of the largest of this leg of the rock icon’s tour. That assures 2007 musically for Alltel Arena will get off and end on good notes.

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