Nicole Kidman has described Nashville as a quiet escape, a nice place to raise a garden or grab coffee without photographers in tow.
So it really shouldn’t be a surprise that it’s also where she and husband Keith Urban chose to have their first child.
“When you look at Nicole and Keith, they seem to be at ease in Nashville. Especially Nicole seems to embrace the city,” observed Dina Sansing, entertainment director for Us Weekly magazine.
Kidman, 41, gave birth early Monday to a baby girl, Sunday Rose Kidman Urban.
With the couple also owning homes in Los Angeles and Australia, there was speculation about where they’d have the baby.
But in recent weeks as the Oscar-winning actress was spotted attending yoga classes and shopping near her home, it became apparent she intended to stay put. Urban virtually confirmed as much in a Saturday concert here when he dedicated his hit “Better Half” to his “very, very, very, very, very pregnant wife.”
“It seems the perfect place to have the child there because they do seem so happy there,” Sansing said.
It’s ironic that Nashville, the city that Robert Altman poked fun at with his ’70s film “Nashville” and that spawned the cornpone TV series “Hee Haw,” is being celebrated as laid-back and hip — but perhaps that’s what it’s come to.
Miley Cyrus, who grew up here, is also filming a movie here. Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Ashley Judd — and, during her brief relationship with Kenny Chesney, Rene Zellweger — either lived here, worked here or spent considerable time here. Ditto for tabloid queen Jessica Simpson and TV’s “Dancing with the Stars” champ Julianne Hough. Rock stars Sheryl Crow, Jack White and Kid Rock all own homes here.
“I definitely think it’s easier to live as a celebrity in Nashville,” said Maureen O’Connor, a publicist with Los Angeles-based Rogers & Cowan. “L.A. isn’t as bad as London, but we do have a lot of paparazzi-type photographers and online media who can torment celebrities to the point that making a law against it has been proposed many times.
“Most of America is an easier place to live as a celebrity. Nashville has the advantage of also being a place that you can do entertainment industry business quite efficiently,” O’Connor added.
Indeed, Nashville has been a music center since the 1920s. Stars are largely left alone here when they’re out and about. Even in the hours after Kidman’s birth, a highly competitive and anticipated international story, the grounds of Baptist Hospital appeared remarkably free of paparazzi.
“When Toby is in New York, it is completely different than in Nashville,” observed Elaine Schock, a Los Angeles-based publicist who represents country superstar Toby Keith. “The paparazzi know exactly where he is and where he is going.”
“It’s definitely become more mainstream. It’s not just country fans who are interested anymore. They have a much wider audience,” Dam said. “We’re doing a lot more country music stories than we had been doing in the past.”
Sansing, the Us Weekly editor, says fans want to know everything about their favorite stars, including where and how they live. In that respect, Kidman and Urban have become a huge boon for Nashville.
“They go to Starbucks, and they go to the cafes,” Sansing said. “These are not stars that stay in the house and avoid people. They’re entrenched in the city and really seem to enjoy it.”