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TV gamble for Kenny

SUNDAY, FEB. 7, 2010

Kenny Rogers is marking 50 years in the music business with a star-studded TV special.

“Pretty courageous, isn’t it?” Rogers, 71, said with a laugh.

“The whole idea is to get together with some friends of mine. I really don’t want it to be a tribute. That’s not what my deal is. It’s kind of a celebration.”

Friends including Dolly Parton, Allison Krauss, Lionel Richie and Wynonna Judd are already signed on to take part in “Kenny Rogers – The First 50 Years,” which will tape on April 10.

No network broadcast arrangements have yet been announced. Plans call for the special to be syndicated internationally.

It will take viewers through the six decades of Rogers’ hits, including “The Gambler,” “Lucille,” “Lady” and the Dolly Parton duet “Islands In The Stream.”

Rogers hopes that producers build in some unscripted time. “I’m at my best when they turn me loose and just let me do something,” he said.

He’s ready to embrace his fashion history. Rogers started out in a jazz band wearing three-piece suits, then changed it up when he joined The First Edition in 1967.

“I was the oldest one, and they were saying, ‘You may be too old for this group,’ ” he recalled. “So I went back and parted my hair in the middle, which was a little more contemporary. I put an earring in my ear, and then I grew a beard, and I wore those brown, rose-colored glasses to kind of give me an identification for that era.”

While he has adapted to changing fashions, Rogers said the secret to long-term success is to be genuine.

“Everybody is three people. We’re who we think we are, we’re who the audience thinks we are, and we’re who we really are, and the closer those three people are together, the longer your career can last,” he said.

“You can be a jerk, if you’re a jerk all the time. But I think you have to be what you represent. The audience doesn’t like to be fooled.”

The birthday bunch

Actor Miguel Ferrer is 55. Comedian Robert Smigel (Triumph the Insult Comic Dog) is 50. Actor James Spader is 50. Country singer Garth Brooks is 48. Comedian Chris Rock is 45. Actor Jason Gedrick (“Boomtown”) is 43. Actor Ashton Kutcher is 32. Actress Tina Majorino is 25.


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