Christmas with Carrie Underwood

Christmas with Carrie Underwood‘Idol’ star Underwood hosts ‘All-Star’ lineup for holiday special

Christmas variety shows never played much of a role in Carrie Underwood’s Oklahoma home as she was growing up.

Yet the fourth-season “American Idol” winner embraces them whole-heartedly in “Carrie Underwood: An All-Star Holiday Special” (tonight at 8 on WFXT, Ch. 25).

The multiplatinum-selling artist will be joined by such guests as Dolly Parton, Brad Paisley, Kristin Chenoweth, Christina Applegate and fellow “Idol” winner David Cook for two hours of songs and skits.

But don’t expect the young country superstar to tip her hat to the likes of format forerunners Andy Williams, Bing Crosby or even the Rockettes.

“I think I kind of just missed some of the variety stuff,” she said during a recent conference call with reporters. “I’ve seen the Mandrell Sisters before, but it wasn’t something we all gathered around to watch. I missed that era, and I’m glad to see that there’s other people doing their stuff, too, and I think it’s really great family programming.”

Meanwhile, the 26-year-old said she does have a few Christmas traditionsshe likes to keep alive.

“Of course, Santa would come on Christmas morning,” she said. “But we had records. It was just like a choir or something. We had these old records that I would always play for Christmas. I have them now - thank God my mom didn’t throw them away. I have them now and I still like to play them.”

Underwood said spending time with country legend Dolly Parton was a “dream come true.” The two perform a duet on the show - she’d go no further than to say it’s a Parton classic - and interact in a few funny moments.

“I’d never met her before this,” she said. “So I was excited to be able to get to talk to her and obviously get to sing with her. It felt like such a special moment for me in the show to be able to perform with her.”

When Parton arrived on the set, Underwood realized it was time to take a back seat.

“When Dolly’s there, you just step out of the spotlight and let her do her thing, because no matter how hard you try, she’s going to steal the spotlight,” Underwood said. “It’s great. It’s the way it should be.”

The special marks the second time Underwood has worked with Paisley in recent weeks. The two co-hosted the Country Music Awards last month.

“Brad and I have a bit of a history together,” she said. “I got to co-headline a tour with him not too long ago. I feel like the more we’re around each other, the more we get comfortable with each other and things just get better and better.”

The two do perform together on the show, but not in the traditional sense. Paisley could not be in Los Angeles for the taping, so Underwood said the producers “did something kind of cool to bring two locations together.”

Viewers can expect to hear Underwood’s latest chart-topper, “Cowboy Casanova,” as well as a collection of more traditional holiday standards.

“It’s a big mish-mash of awesome music,” she said.

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