Where can I spot the country stars?

I'll be in town for the country music awards at the MGM Grand. Where do I go to get pictures of the stars, and how early should I be there?

Thank you,
Paul
(Ottawa, Canada)

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Hello, Paul. If you're visiting for the Academy of Country Music Awards on April 5, 2009, and want to see some stars, the obvious place will be the MGM Grand on awards night. Tickets for the awards show aren't available anymore from Ticketmaster, but ticket brokers StubHub and TicketsNow has them starting at about $135. If you want to risk waiting until you get there and searching around town for tickets, check the booths setup along the strip that advertise show tickets on their storefronts (look for lighted yellow signs), mostly these are cheaper than buying show tickets at the casinos. I don't know what kind of gray market deal they've got going on these, but they're valid, less expensive tickets.

The stars arrive at and leave the ceremony from the south end of the hotel. Sorry though, the red carpet is off-limits for those without press passes. But, you might be able to linger nearby to catch a glimpse. Be aware, however that there will be huge crowds around this area hours in advance of the show. Even when it's not showtime, the MGM Grand will be your most likely place for star watching. The celebrities have to be there for the ceremony, so many of them book suites at the MGM and spend the weekend.

Since some stars are furtive like rodents, they'll likely stick to small private affairs around the town, and these you have no hope of getting in to. But don't be surprised if Toby Keith and entourage drop into his bar, Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill at Harrah's casino. And the Hard Rock caters to the music scene, so there could be some spottings there. Also, Jessica Simpson owns a condo in the Palms resort and she's still working on her jerky, stop-start country music career; we expect she (and boyfriend Tony Romo) will be in town, departing and arriving her luxury room there.

If you want to buy tickets, but save a little money on hotel costs, you can get a room at one of the less expensive Strip casinos that are competing with the MGM for attention that weekend -- Treasure Island and Circus Circus would be likely suspects -- and then book a room at the luxurious MGM Grand after the awards show and the stars leave town. That's when rates will drop dramatically. Hotel prices fall across the whole town every week beginning on Sunday anyway. On that particular week when the stars disappear (Monday morning) so will the high prices. Saving on your accommodations might leave enough in your pocket for tickets to the ceremony where you can stalk your favorite singer.

And if you see Jessica, tell her that I want to have her babies.

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