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CELEBRITY WATCH: Paula Deen hits the high seas

Luke Bryan and Jennifer Nettles have concerts scheduled for Atlanta and Jacksonville this year

Food Network television personality Paula Deen, shown cheering for her husband, Michael Groover, during the semi-finals of the Papa Hemingway Look-Alike Contest at Sloppy Joes Bar in Key West, Fla., in 2012, is on the high seas this week with her winter cruise. (File photo)

Food Network television personality Paula Deen, shown cheering for her husband, Michael Groover, during the semi-finals of the Papa Hemingway Look-Alike Contest at Sloppy Joes Bar in Key West, Fla., in 2012, is on the high seas this week with her winter cruise. (File photo)

ALBANY — Here’s what’s going on lately with some nationally known entertainment figures who have ties to Southwest Georgia.


The celebrity chef and Albany native was scheduled to leave the Miami port Friday on the 2014 Winter Paula Deen Cruise.

The Eastern Caribbean cruise, which ends Saturday, is aboard the Celebrity Reflection, with visits scheduled to San Juan, St. Thomas and St. Maarten. Her summer cruise is set for July 19-26.

When she gets back to the mainland, Deen will be heading up to chilly Buffalo, N.Y., area for a VIP lunch and live cooking show Feb. 8 at Samuel’s Grand Manor in Williamsville.

By the way, Deen’s 67th birthday is today. You can read her quotes and some by two other entertainers who share the birthday in Mary Braswell’s Looking Back column today. To read it, CLICK HERE.


Hosts Luke Bryan, right, and Blake Shelton perform “Boys Round Here” at the 48th ACM Awards in Las Vegas last April. The pair will host the 49th annual show on April 6. (REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni)


As reported in The Herald on Thursday, Leesburg native Luke Bryan is hitting an extremely busy stretch with his two-leg That’s My Kind of Night Tour that includes more than 60 concerts through October. The first 19-show leg, which opened Thursday in Columbus, Ohio, is sold out.

Two of the concerts in the second half, which includes three stadium shows, will be back-to-back days at the Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood in metro Atlanta on July 25-26. Tickets for those Atlanta concerts and the more than 40 others in the second part of the tour go on sale Friday.

In addition, Bryan is scheduled for about a dozen more shows this year that are not part of the tour, including Florida Country Superfest in mid-June in Jacksonville, Fla.

On April 6, Bryan will co-host for the second time the Academy of Country Music Awards Show with four-time host Blake Shelton. Bryan is the reigning ACM Entertainer of the Year. That show will be broadcast live on CBS starting at 8 p.m. at night.


Phillip Phillips, of Leesburg, has been doing some writing, according to his website. (File photo)


The official website of Leesburg’s Phillip Phillips doesn’t list any upcoming events. Photos posted to the site indicate Phillips is doing some writing and studio work.


Alex Kendrick, shown in this 2012 file photo, has a part in a family comedy film scheduled for release sometime in 2014 titled “Moms’ Night Out.” (File photo)


Alex and Stephen Kendrick of Albany in October said they have another movie in the works with their Kendrick Brothers production company. Last month, they were in the script-writing phase and there hasn’t been anything new revealed regarding that project.

In November, the brothers partnered with Lifeway research to launch a pair of parenting and marriage tests online.

Meanwhile, Alex Kendrick has the role of Pastor Ray in a film planned for release this year, though no firm date has been set. “Moms’ Night Out,” a family comedy, is a story about what mishaps that arise when a group of moms try to squeeze in a three-hour night out, leaving their husbands at home to handle their families. Principal photography wrapped up last June and the movie is listed as being in post-production.

The cast includes Patricia Heaton (“Everybody Loves Raymond,” “The Middle”), Sean Astin (“Lord of the Rings,” “Rudy”), country music star Trace Adkins and Sarah Drew (“Grey’s Anatomy”).


Jennifer Nettles has released her newest album, a solo work titled “That Girl.” The album’s 11 tracks include 10 that she wrote or co-wrote. (Photo courtesy UMG Nashville)


Jennifer Nettles, a native of Douglas about 70 miles east of Albany and one-half of the country duo Sugarland, has released her newest solo album titled “That Girl.” It culminates a four-year journey for her toward emphasizing a solo career.

Nettles wrote the lead track “Falling” and co-wrote nine of the other 10 songs on the album, which was produced by Rick Rubin at his Shangri-La Studio in Malibu, Calif., originally owned by Bob Dylan. Nettles said that she and her family relocated from their home in Nashville for a month last year to work on the album.

In a news release, Nettles said she started writing for the album project with “allowance and openness” and “no idea where it would lead,” but that she followed in faith. “Ideas,” she said, “sprung from walks, from photographs, from solitary moments sitting at my piano playing around. I called old writer friends, new writer friends, and made serendipitous connections based on gut instincts or random conversations. I was curious, open, interested. And, I also got pregnant.”

Her final trimester, she said, was “one of the most prolific writing times in my life,” attributing that to her being ready to do the project and the pregnancy requiring her not to be on the road, giving her the needed time.

Tracks on the album include “Falling,” “Me Without You,” “Moneyball,” “That Girl,” “This Angel,” “Jealousy,” “This One’s for You,” “Know You Wanna Know,” “Thank You” and “Good Time to Cry,” The final track, “Like a Rock,” is a remake of the Bob Seger classic.

Her scheduled tour dates from Valentine’s Day through March 1 have her appearing Feb. 22 at the Fox Theater in Atlanta and Feb. 25, at the Florida Theater in Jacksonville, Fla.

The video for “Falling” can be seen at her website by clicking HERE.