The Dixie Chicks try not to take themselves too seriously.
So when the time came to shoot their first network television special, the multiplatinum country-music trio decided they'd fill the time between songs with a series of sketches spoofing network television specials.
"The characters were not our personalities per se," says banjo and Dobro player Emily Robison. "It just showed the sense of humor that we have. We feel like we can laugh at ourselves." Robison, along with sister Martie Seidel and singer Natalie Maines, makes her acting debut in the skits of Dixie Chicks: On the Fly, which airs tonight at 8 ET/PT on NBC.
The sketches also feature Andy Dick (NewsRadio) as an executive intent on making the Chicks conform to this vision of semi-nude acrobatics and dance numbers.
The executive's condescending attitude toward country music eventually results in his mailbox being destroyed.
During filming, though, Seidel's inexperience in the sport of mailbox-smashing threatened to ruin not only the shot, but nearby mailboxes as well.
"Martie's never personally hit a mailbox," Maines says. "That's more of a small-town Lubbock, Texas, thing to do out of boredom. Big-city Dallas people have more important things to do."
"I had my mailbox smashed when I lived in Dallas, and it (ticked) me off," Seidel says in her defense. "I would never smash a mailbox."
Even so, Robison says, "I think she enjoyed it. I could see that little glimmer in her eye."
Seidel and her bandmates wield their instruments more skillfully that they do baseball bats. The Chicks have sold 17 million copies of their albums Wide Open Spaces and the Grammy-winning Fly. Last month, the group was named the Country Music Association's entertainer of the year.
The one-hour special features the hits Wide Open Spaces, Cowboy Take Me Away and Goodbye Earl, as well as a bluesy rave-up of Bonnie Raitt's Give It Up or Let Me Go.
Joel Gallen, chosen because of the group's fondness for his work on The MTV Movie Awards, directed On the Fly, which is one of three country-music specials on network television this week.
The performance footage, shot during two concerts in Washington, D.C., closely resembles the group's regular shows. "The put a little extra scrolling on the back of the stage and added some lighting for television," Seidel says, "but it was pretty much exactly what we do every night for 80 shows out here on tour."
The Fly tour stops in San Diego and Los Angeles before wrapping up Dec. 2 in College Station, Texas.
One thing that has changed is Maines' appearance. She married actor Adrian Pasdar in June when she was just a few weeks pregnant. Due in March, she has begun to show. Maines says the pregnancy isn't affecting her voice, but she has stopped working with the yoga instructor who travels with the group. "I would feel sick on stage if I had also exhausted myself working out earlier that day," she says.
On the Fly will give Chicks fans a chance to see them spread their wings before taking some time off. Following a performance at the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas Dec. 5, they'll pull off the road, and they don't plan to begin recording again until 2002.
Says Maines: "We'll probably be gone for about a year and a half."