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Connie Britton - Hayden Panettiere - Jonathan Jackson - Charles Esten
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Last updated: May 23, 2017 / Open Since: May 12, 2012 / Email Us: Here / Free Email

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Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4
Season 5


Powers Boothe
Clare Bowen
Connie Britton
Eric Close
Charles Esten
Jonathan Jackson
Sam Palladio
Hayden Panettiere
Robert Wisdom


S5 Promos
S4 Promos
S3 Promos
S2 Promos
S1 Promos
Powers Boothe
Clare Bowen
Connie Britton
Eric Close
Charles Esten
Jonathan Jackson
Sam Palladio
Hayden Panettiere
Robert Wisdom


Powers Boothe
Clare Bowen
Connie Britton
Eric Close
Charles Esten
Jonathan Jackson
Sam Palladio
Hayden Panettiere
Robert Wisdom


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Top 10 TV Shows
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Babe Of The Month
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Best Eyes (f)
Best Hair (f)
Best Legs (f)
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Best Abs (m)
Best Eyes (m)
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Season 3 DVD
Season 2 DVD
Season 1 DVD
Powers Boothe
Clare Bowen
Connie Britton
Eric Close
Charles Esten
Jonathan Jackson
Sam Palladio
Hayden Panettiere
Robert Wisdom


Powers Boothe
Clare Bowen
Connie Britton
Eric Close
Charles Esten
Jonathan Jackson
Sam Palladio
Hayden Panettiere
Robert Wisdom



Upcoming Episodes / Appearances

(All listings subject to change) (Nashville Episodes In Red)
  • June 1- "New Episodes" (9pm CMT)
  • June 1- Nashchat (Post Show on Facebook)
  • Sundays- Time After Time (Will Chase, 10pm ABC)
  • Netflix- CHELSEA (Connie Britton, Oct 19 episode)
  • DVD: Nashville: Season 3
  • Mondays- Supergirl (Laura Benanti, CBS)
  • Hardcover Book: In the Waves (by Lennon & Maisy Stella)
  • Kindle Book: In the Waves (by Lennon & Maisy Stella)
  • DVD: Nashville: Season 2
  • HD Instant Video: Season 2
  • CD: Music of Nashville [S2 V1]
  • MP3 Album: Music of Nashville [S2 V1]
  • CD: Music of Nashville [S2 V2]
  • MP3 Album: Music of Nashville [S2 V2]
  • iTunes: Nashville Season 2
  • DVD- Nashville: Season 1
  • New! CD: Music of Nashville [S1 V2]
  • New! MP3 Album: Music of Nashville [S1 V2]
  • CD: Music of Nashville [S1 V1]
  • MP3 Album: Music of Nashville [S1 V1]
  • Instant Video: Season 1
  • HD Instant Video: Season 1

  • News, Rumors and Gossip

    (Click Here to submit news, articles & rumors)

    Nashville TV Show

    Connie Britton’s parenting advice for ex-babysitter Katie Lowes

    (5/23/17) Connie Britton has some motherly advice for her son’s former babysitter Katie Lowes, who is pregnant.

    “The only advice that I have is to enjoy it and go easy on yourself because you’re stepping into a world of the unknown and you have to embrace that,” the “Nashville” actress told Page Six at New York mag’s Vulture Festival on Saturday.

    Before Lowes was cast as Olivia Pope’s right-hand woman on “Scandal,” she almost became Britton’s nanny.

    Britton, who adopted her son Eyob in 2011, told us of Lowes, “I wanted her to be my nanny so badly and my assistant. She’s just such a phenomenal human and I remember having those conversations. She was helping me with my son, who was then just a baby, and then she said, ‘I got cast in this show called ‘Scandal.'”

    Earlier this month, Lowes, 35, revealed that she and her husband, Adam Shapiro, are expecting a baby boy.

    Riley Smith, 'Nashville' TV Star's New Single

    (5/20/17) (Listen Here) Riley Smith vocals and songwriting stunningly blend country rock, hard-hitting soulful Americana and modern pop for a sound rarely found in music today. No secret to those familiar with his lead role on the popular TV show “Nashville”, Smith’s gritty, yet smooth, singing voice and charismatic presence have built him a career on stage and screen. Acting in popular shows like "True Blood", "True Detective", and his latest lead, on The CW’s "Frequency", got him out in front of the people. His love for music introduced him to them in a way unlike any other role he has played.

    His long awaited self-titled EP is produced by Kevin Leach, who has previously worked with a wide array of major label acts and respected indie artists. The five song EP is inspired by his time in Nashville and is relative to feelings and emotions he had whilst living in such a compelling yet isolating city. Smith explains how time and place had a huge impact on his writing process and ultimately made the EP what it is today. “My influences are as diverse as the city”. Smith decided to return to music, after landing a role in hit TV show “Nashville". Aware of the impact of being in an iconic city of music, Smith's goal was to take this opportunity and use it to his advantage. His time spent in Nashville encouraged him to submerge himself within the world of music. Smith confides, "I set out with a goal and plan to utilize my time in Nashville to write with as many writers as I could with the goal of making an album”

    After moving to Nashville, Smith dove into the realm of old classic country music, exploring it’s history and roots. However, the longer he was there and the more musicians he collaborated with, his sound started developing into something more dynamic and divergent. Smith’s writing process began to reference a wider variety of sounds and styles resulting in a body of music that's relatable, heartfelt and diverse. "It's what I think makes the sound unique and kinda difficult to put in a box.” Smith reveals.

    Smith describes the EP as ‘loaner music’, “there’s a common theme of distance and space running through the EP. There’s a longing and yearning to the music. Lonesome at times”. This relatable desire for closeness will inspire audiences to not feel alone, to feel understood in the world and realize that there are others who are feeling the same. Smith declares “I want the EP to hopefully transcend to anyone who's ever felt alone”.

    Lead single 'I’m On Fire’ features Smith’s warm vocals, resonating guitars and an infectious chorus. His heart wrenchingly authentic delivery results in a beautiful and achingly relatable record that is sure to be a radio hit. The song was a co-write with Matthew Perryman Jones and Tim Lauer (Hank Williams, Shawn Mendes, Blake Shelton). Smith describes how there was instant chemistry and respect between them all and how the song felt like it wrote itself. “I'm on Fire exemplified what my time writing in Nashville was all about to me. The synergy. The talent."

    'I Can’t Keep Missing You’ highlights the traditional pop country sound that we are so familiar with. It successfully amalgamates pop, lyricism and sensibility. Whilst 'Break Something’ features Smith’s versatile sound of Americana with a fiery blues rock delivery.

    Smith’s past successes include supporting Jordan Sparks, a residency at the iconic Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles and a European tour. Further achievements include major market radio play and numerous film and TV placements.

    Riley Smith will be released July 21st, worldwide.

    How Connie Britton and Lauren Graham ended up roommates

    (5/20/17) Before they played two of our favorite TV moms, Connie Britton and Lauren Graham were trying to make it in the entertainment business together.

    “We were in the same acting class [in New York City],” Connie Britton told the audience during her panel at New York Magazine’s Vulture Festival on Saturday, “We were in class together, became friends and then we both decided to make the big move and give Los Angles a shot.”

    The “Nashville” actress explained that their friend was going through a divorce, so they moved into her empty home.

    “Thankfully there were a couple of bedrooms with a couple of beds in them!” she said, adding that living with the “Gilmore Girls” actress was really fun.

    “Those are actually really fond memories,” Britton said, “You know, it’s that time when everything’s a possibility and we were just trying to live our dream.”

    Britton also roomed with U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand when they were in college together at Dartmouth. They traveled abroad and lived together for a summer in China.

    “That was a very interesting experience because I was just a freshman, so going to China … was a very big culture shock and a really amazing learning experience,” she said.

    Actor from 'Nashville' pens song to pump up Predators for playoffs

    (5/19/17) (Video) The man from "Nashville" is trying to pump up the Nashville Predators during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

    Charles Esten, an actor/singer who plays Deacon Claybourne on the CMT drama "Nashville," teamed up with "Small Time Rock Stars," the in-house band at Predators games at Bridgestone Arena, to create a Predators-themed hard rock song called "Here Come the Predators," that was unveiled Wednesday.

    "[The song] is a tribute to 'Smashville' -- to that insanity," Esten told, referencing the team-titled fanfare that surrounds Bridgestone Arena during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. "It was the experience of that great time. That's where it came from."

    The Predators have embraced the song, and it was performed during Game 4 of their Western Conference Final series against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday. They intend to keep it in their music rotation for the rest of the postseason.

    Esten, who was born in Pittsburgh and grew up in suburban Washington, D.C., was not a hockey fan until he met the band while recording the first season of "Nashville" in 2012. The band, who tours under the name "Sixwire," backed up Esten's character on "Nashville" during a scene at Grand Ole Opry. Steve Mandile, the band's front man, invited Esten to sing with them at some Predators games that year, which is how Esten became hooked on hockey.

    "It wasn't until I went to a game that I suddenly got it, the sort of hockey epiphany," Esten said. "I was there because they were my friends and they offered me to go along and play, and I did that a couple of times but very quickly I was into it as much as anybody else."

    Esten didn't introduce "Here Come the Predators" to Mandile until they were on tour together in January of 2016. When the Predators clinched a playoff berth this season, they went and recorded it.

    The Predators and the city's music scene have come together this spring, with high-profile local acts such as Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan and Keith Urban performing the "Star Spangled Banner" before playoff games. "Here Comes the Predators" will serve as a keepsake for the Predators' most successful season since they entered the NHL as an expansion team in 1998-99.

    "We didn't want to overstep. We just kind of did it," Mandile said. "We had [Esten] sing it, and mashed it out and sent it to the people over at the [Predators]. ... I didn't want to make it awkward or anything, so I said 'we wrote this song, don't feel obligated to use it or anything, but this is kind of a present to the Predators.'"

    Esten will host the CMT Music Awards in Nashville on June 7, an event that was supposed to be at Bridgestone Arena but has been moved to the nearby Music City Center to accommodate a potential Predators Stanley Cup Final game. From there, he will embark on an eight-show promotional tour of "Nashville" in Great Britain that starts June 9 and could interfere with his ability to watch the Predators.

    "That's going to be brutal, but we'll find a way to do it," Esten said. "I would love to have that problem, trying to watch the Predators from England."

    Nashville: First Video of Rachel Bilson, Kaitlin Doubleday — Plus: EP Teases 'Several' OMG Moments to Come

    (5/18/17) (Video) Music City will have two new residents — one more welcome than the other — when Nashville‘s fifth season resumes on June 1 (9/8c).

    As previously reported, Rachel Bilson (The O.C., Hart of Dixie) and Kaitlin Doubleday (Empire) will join the CMT drama for the second half of Season 5. TVLine got co-showrunner Marshall Herskovitz on the phone to preview both actresses’ debuts (and, of course, we slipped in a few questions about Deacon, Juliette and the rest of the gang). Read on for the scoop!

    * Doubleday’s Jessie Caine, a singer/songwriter who left town after a big scandal years ago, will show up first, during the show’s milestone 100th episode on June 15. “She had a career and had a life, but it blew up in a way I can’t talk about” for fear of spoiling the story, Herskovitz says. She’s also got a son who was taken from her. “I find myself drawn to the struggle of someone who has made mistakes,” the EP adds, “who has flaws but it also determined to make her life work.”

    * Bilson will play Silicon Valley transplant Alyssa Greene, whom Zach introduces as Highway 65’s chief strategy officer in the video at the top of this post. “One of the things that’s fun about what Rachel’s doing is, she plays someone who’s not from Nashville, doesn’t have any interest in or knowledge of country music. She’s a complete fish out of water, which is not something we’ve seen in the show very often,” Herskovitz says. Bilson will debut a few episodes after Doubleday does.

    * Bilson’s addition, in particular, “is part of the storyline of how Deacon handles Highway 65 now that Rayna’s gone,” the EP adds. “He’s left in charge of it, and he’s the last person who ever wanted to run the business.” Look for Zach, played by the recently promoted Cameron Scoggins, to become more of an active partner in the business in the weeks ahead.

    * Herskovitz previously mentioned that the midseason premiere would pick up after a small time jump. He confirms that the series hops ahead about 10 weeks from the events of Episode 11, and it examines how Deacon, Maddie and Daphne are conducting their lives after Rayna’s sudden passing. “What we see with them is the conflict between this relentless grief that you feel for someone who was such an important part of your life, and the fact that life must go on,” Herskovitz previews.

    * A sneak peek video released in April hinted that the second part of the season would find Juliette gearing up for some live performances; Herskovitz confirms that Ms. Barnes is rarin’ to go. “A lot of her spirit, feistiness, impossibleness, whatever you want to call it is definitely going to return,” he says.

    * But when the topic of pregnant Scarlett’s baby-daddy confusion arises, the EP jovially pleads the fifth. “I can assure you there is a father,” he says, laughing, declining to discuss the storyline further.

    * Even without Connie Britton’s Rayna, Herskovitz assures, this is still the Nashville fans know and love. “There’s several OMG moments” in the back end of the season, he promises.

    Hayden Panettiere Childhood NY Home Hits The Market

    (5/16/17) (Pics) The home Hayden Panettiere was living in when she was breaking into showbiz as a child star is now on the market for $1.75 million.

    The crib's in Palisades, New York ... a ritzy suburban enclave where Angelina Jolie grew up, and stars like Bill Murray, Diane Sawyer and Al Pacino have also lived.

    Hayden's folks bought the 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath home in 1995. It sits on a quaint suburban lot, surrounded by trees and it's just a short walk away from the Hudson River.

    Interesting timing on the sale ... Hayden's parents went through a nasty 8-year divorce that finally ended last April. It's unclear whether mom or dad gets the dough from the house. It's still registered in both their names.

    Fun fact: When her folks bought this place, Hayden was playing Sarah Roberts on "One Life to Live" ... at the age of 6!

    ‘Nashville’ Ups Cameron Scoggins To Series Regular; Adds Odessa Adlon As Recurring

    (5/16/17) Cameron Scoggins (Z, Shades of Blue) who has recurred in Season 5 as Zach Welles, has been promoted to series regular for the second half of the season. In addition, newcomer Odessa Adlon has joined the Season 5 cast in a recurring role.

    Scoggins’ Zach is a young Silicon Valley billionaire with a ready smile. Boyish, ebullient and personable, Zach is a nerd who made good, and though still a nerd, he has the confidence and self-image of someone who isn’t. Adlon will play Liv. Tough, but vulnerable, Liv is a teen runaway who has ditched a bad situation to live on the streets among a loose collection of other runaway teens. She is a quick thinker who has a mischievous sense of humor and dominant personality (bit of a “wise-ass,” especially with adults).

    Produced by Lionsgate, ABC Studios, and Opry Entertainment, the second half of Season 5 of Nashville is set to premiere on CMT on Thursday, June 1 at 9 PM, with Season 6 of the series scheduled to begin airing in early 2018. Episodes are available for streaming on Hulu one day after they air.

    Nashville is executive produced by Marshall Herskovitz, Ed Zwick, Callie Khouri and Steve Buchanan.

    Scoggins was most recently seen on stage at Playwrights Horizons in Hir. TV credits include: Z, The Blacklist, The Black Box, Person Of Interest, Elementary, and The Good Wife. He will next be seen as Ray Liotta’s son on NBC’s Shades of Blue. He’s repped by The Gersh Agency and Perennial Entertainment.

    Adlon comes from an entertainment family, the daughter of filmmaker Felix Adlon, and actress Pamela Adlon. She most recently appeared as Anna in the pilot What About Barb, and guest stars in an upcoming episode of Love. She’s repped by Don Buchwald & Associates and Royle Dice.

    Powers Boothe Dies: Emmy-Winning Character Actor, ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Co-Star Was 68

    (5/14/17) Powers Boothe, a versatile character actor who won an Emmy for portraying cult leader Jim Jones and more recently appeared on ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., has died of natural causes in Los Angeles. He was 68.

    Beau Bridges tweeted the news Sunday, saluting him as “a dear friend, great actor, devoted father & husband.”

    In 1980, Boothe won an Emmy for lead actor in a limited series or special for his performance in Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones on CBS.

    After growing up in Texas and becoming a stage actor, he went on to play a range of characters, especially villains, on screen. Notable roles came in action film Sudden Death, Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City and as Cy Tolliver in Deadwood.

    In recent years, he was part of Marvel’s rise, playing Gideon Malick in The Avengers and then continuing in it on ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

    Other turns came in Oliver Stone’s Nixon, as Alexander Haig, as a sheriff in Stone’s U Turn and was unforgettable as the evil, gun-toting Curly Bill Brocius in Tombstone.

    On Nashville, he played the father of Connie Britton’s character, industrialist and former mayor Lamar Wyatt. On 24, he played vice president Noah Daniels, who becomes president.

    Deadwood's Powers Boothe Dead at 68

    (5/14/17) Powers Boothe, best known for his role as Cy Tolliver on HBO’s critically acclaimed Deadwood, has died. He was 68.

    Boothe died in his sleep of natural causes Sunday morning, his publicist confirms to TVLine. Word of his passing was first reported by actor Beau Bridges, who took to Twitter on Sunday afternoon to eulogize his “dear friend.”

    @MrBeauBridges : It's with great sadness that I mourn the passing of my friend Powers Boothe. A dear friend, great actor, devoted father & husband.

    Boothe first broke out as the title character in the 1980 miniseries Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones, for which he won an Emmy award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Special. From 1983 to 1986, he portrayed the title character in HBO’s Philip Marlowe, Private Eye. Eighteen years later, he returned to the premium cable network as part of the cast of Deadwood.

    Following Deadwood‘s demise, Boothe kept busy on the small screen, first popping up in Season 6 of 24 as Vice President Noah Daniels. In 2012, he co-starred as Judge Valentine ‘Wall’ Hatfield in the limited series Hatfields & McCoys, and began a recurring role as father to Connie Britton’s Rayna James on primetime soap Nashville. Most recently, he recurred on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., portraying HYDRA leader Gideon Malick during Season 3.

    Powers Boothe, 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' and 'Sin City' Actor, Dies at 68

    (5/14/17) Powers Boothe, a character actor who appeared in films like Sin City and TV shows including Deadwood and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., has died. He was 68.

    A cause of death was not immediately known. His friend, actor Beau Bridges, tweeted the news Sunday afternoon.

    Boothe, who grew up on a farm in Texas, began his acting career in the theater, playing a number of Shakespearean roles including Henry IV. He made his Broadway debut in the late '70s in Lone Star & Pvt. Wars.

    In 1980, he won an Emmy for lead actor in a limited series or special for playing cult leader Jim Jones in CBS' Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones. He won that award during an actors strike and chose to cross the picket line to accept his trophy, saying, "This may be either the bravest moment of my career, or the dumbest."

    Boothe also was nominated two ensemble SAG Awards, first in 1996 alongside the cast of Nixon and then again in 2007 with the cast of Deadwood.

    Boothe gained a reputation for playing villains with memorable roles in action film Sudden Death (1995), Bill Paxton's Frailty (2001) and the nefarious Senator Roark in Sin City (2005). Perhaps his most famous villain role was Cy Tolliver, the ruthless saloon owner on Deadwood.

    More recently, Boothe took on the role of Gideon Malick as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, debuting the role on The Avengers and reprising it on ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

    He portrayed Alexander Haig in Nixon (1995) and a sheriff in another Oliver Stone film, U Turn (1997), and was unforgettable as the wicked gunman Curly Bill Brocius in Tombstone (1993).

    He also played Connie Britton's father, the industrialist and former mayor Lamar Wyatt, on Nashville and portrayed Lamar Wyatt, the vice president and then the U.S. president, on 24.

    ABC Orders Deception, Splitting Up Together to Series

    (5/12/17) ABC has waved its magic wand and added a pair of new series to its primetime lineup.

    The network has ordered magician drama Deception and divorce sitcom Splitting Up Together to series, TVLine has learned.

    Deception stars Jack Cutmore-Scott (Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life) as a disgraced magician who puts his skills of deception and illusion to work as a FBI consultant, helping the feds catch the world’s most elusive criminals. Chuck executive producer Chris Fedak is the creator/EP, and Greg Berlanti (The Flash, Arrow) and Martin Gero (Blindspot) are onboard as EPs as well.

    Splitting Up Together stars Jenna Fischer (The Office) and Oliver Hudson (Scream Queens) as a divorced couple whose relationship improves dramatically after they’re officially split up. Bobby Lee (MADtv) and Diane Farr (Rescue Me) co-star. Emily Kapnek (Suburgatory) is the creator, with Ellen DeGeneres serving as an EP.

    ABC announced five additional new series on Thursday, including new roles for Zach Braff and Jason Ritter.

    Goldie Hawn reveals son Oliver Hudson almost died as a baby

    (5/11/17) Actress Goldie Hawn has a lot to say on the subjects of parenting and faith. Now, she’s opening up about the first time these two parts of her personality intersected with the birth of her first born son.

    The actress revealed in an interview with People magazine that her son, Oliver Hudson, 40, nearly died a mere day after being born due to complications from his birth. Hawn, who at the time was suffering from toxemia, recounts the moment when she was first brought to see her son in the ICU. She says that she put her hand on him and asked God to come through her to heal her son. As she states, Oliver’s heartbeat began to go up in that moment.

    “I don’t think there’s any question that prayer can work. I’m a very spiritual person,” she told the outlet. “I’m not a religious person, although I was raised Jewish and I like my tribe, but that was a beautiful thing. It was phenomenal. I just emptied myself. I don’t know how to explain it.”

    Hawn, the mother of Oliver and Kate Hudson as well as Wyatt Russell, has previously discussed her beliefs and how religion impacts her parenting style. Previously appearing on the OWN series “Oprah’s Master Class,” the actress discussed being in the hot seat the first time Kate asked her about God.

    “I said, ‘Well I think God is everywhere, really. To feel God is what’s really important,” she said in the video below. “You know that feeling just before you’re going to laugh? That thing where you get all bubbled up? It’s like a bubble of laughter, but it hasn’t come out yet? That’s what God feels like.’”

    Hawn, who is making her triumphant return to the big screen after a 15-year hiatus in the upcoming movie “Snatched,” has kept busy. According to Variety, the actress extends her love of children to the rest of the world with the Hawn Foundation, which seeks to help children be more resilient and cope in the face of overwhelming tragedy.

    “Some of them will be the leaders of our country, that’s why I created the foundation,” she said. “I would say for the love of children.”

    Stranger Things Season 2: Nashville Vet Will Chase Joins Cast as [Spoiler]

    (5/4/17) Nashville and Smash vet Will Chase will soon be belting out a chorus of “WTF?!”

    The actor-singer has joined Stranger Things‘ anticipated second season in a pivotal recurring role, TVLine has learned exclusively. He will play Neil Mayfield, the father of a family of recent transplants to Hawkins Indiana from California. Our guess? He’s the dad of the two new kids in town, played by American Odyssey‘s Sadie Sink and Power Rangers‘ Dacre Montgomery.

    Much of Season 2 has been shrouded in secrecy, although a few details have trickled out. Here’s what we know: Mad About You‘s Paul Reiser and Lord of the Rings‘ Sean Astin have signed on for recurring roles, with the former playing a high-ranking member within the Department of Energy on a ‘clean-up’ assignment and the latter portraying a kindhearted former nerd who went to high school with Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Hopper (David Harbour). Danish actress Linnea Berthelsen, meanwhile, will play an emotionally damaged, magnetic young woman who suffered a great loss as a child. Although she does not live in Hawkins, she is mysteriously connected to the town’s supernatural events.

    In addition to Stranger Things, Chase is juggling recurring roles on HBO’s forthcoming Sharp Objects adaptation and cabler’s porn drama The Deuce.

    The new season is slated to drop on Oct. 31 (aka Halloween aka a long time away).

    Kate Hudson and Brother Oliver Threatened, Father Comes to Their Defense

    (5/4/17) Kate Hudson and her brother Oliver were targeted by their estranged father's business associate when their deal went south ... according to new legal docs.

    Bill Hudson says Eric A. Zimmerman got angry about a failed film venture, and fired off multiple texts promising to harm him and "drag your children into this as well" by publicly smearing them in the media. According to docs, Zimmerman also strongly insinuated he would shoot Bill by texting, "the safety is off and I have my finger on the trigger."

    Hudson took this seriously enough to file for a restraining order, protecting himself, Kate, Oliver and 2 of his other children. The judge signed off, and Zimmerman is now prohibited from contacting the Hudsons.

    Bill's been estranged from his famous kids for years -- they grew up with Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn -- and he's said he doesn't think of Oliver and Kate as his anymore.

    Obviously, he still takes their safety seriously.

    Nashville Cast Announces Dates for Summer 2017 Tour

    (5/2/17) (CMT) Get ready for a fun summer, Nashies!

    The cast of Nashville has just announced their fourth US tour. A special presale begins Wednesday (May 3) at 10 a.m and ends Thursday at 10 p.m. (times local to the venue).

    Use this special CMT presale code in honor of the June 1 mid-season premiere: CMTjune1

    Here are the tour dates:

    July 23: Orlando, Florida (Hard Rock Live)
    July 25: Clearwater, Florida (Ruth Eckerd Hall)
    July 26: Atlanta (Chastain Park Amphitheatre — on sale in June)
    July 28: Grand Prairie, Texas (Verizon Theatre)
    July 29: Robinsonville, Mississippi (Horseshoe Tunica)
    July 30: Huber Heights, Ohio (Rose Music Center at the Heights)
    Aug. 1: Vienna, Virginia (Wolf Trap for the Performing Arts — on sale now)
    Aug. 2: Raleigh, North Carolina (The Red Hat Amphitheater)
    Aug. 4: Richmond, Virginia (Innsbrook After Hours)
    Aug. 5: Brooklyn, New York (Coney Island Amphitheater)
    Aug. 6: Atlantic City, New Jersey (Borgata Spa & Resort Event Center)

    The tour is set to feature cast members Clare Bowen, Chris Carmack, Charles Esten and Jonathan Jackson and is produced by Opry Entertainment. Tour stops will feature songs from the series as well as the artists’ original material.

    All shows go on sale Friday (May 5), except for Vienna, Virginia, which is on sale now and Atlanta, which will go on sale in early June. A limited number of VIP packages, including cast meet-and-greets, will be available for all shows.

    For more information, click here.

    Don’t miss the mid-season premiere of Nashville June 1 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. For all the latest news and information, head over to the official Nashville Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and join the conversation using #NashvilleCMT.

    ‘Nashville’s Charles Esten To Host ‘2017 CMT Music Awards’

    (4/30/17) Nashville’s Charles Esten has been tapped to host the 2017 CMT Music Awards set to air live from Nashville on Wednesday, June 7 at 8 PM.

    Blake Shelton, Brett Eldredge, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert and Thomas Rhett are among the performers, with additional artists, presenters and special guests being announced soon.

    In a bit of corporate synergy, the news comes on the heels of Nashville‘s sixth season renewal on CMT and ahead of Season 5B’s premiere on June 1.

    “Everybody knows that CMT has a special connection with country music and the incredible fans that love it so much,” said Charles Esten. “That connection is why our show, “Nashville,” now has a perfect home on the network. It’s also why there is no other show quite like the “CMT Music Awards.” It’s a show fully dedicated to the fans and an annual chance for them to place their votes for their favorite artists. Besides always being flat-out fun, it’s also always been a stage for magical musical moments – and a place where some of country’s biggest legends have been made.”

    Nashville Sets Midseason Premiere: EP Promises, 'There Is Most Definitely Life After Rayna'

    (4/11/17) (Video) Polish your cowboy boots and dry your tears, Nashville fans, because the CMT series will return on Thursday, June 1 at 9/8c.

    CMT on Monday announced the midseason premiere date — as well as the series’ Season 6 renewal. Per the network, the first episode back will take place 10 weeks after the events of the midseason finale. “Deacon will help Daphne with a school project, but Daphne feels unmotivated. Juliette gives Maddie unsolicited advice about a song,” the official episode description states. “Scarlett and Gunnar receive news about the baby.”

    As previously reported, The O.C.‘s Rachel Bilson and Empire‘s Kaitlin Doubleday will join the cast in the back half of the season, though not much is known about their characters. Jeff Nordling (Big Little Lies) also will recur as Brad Maitland, the charming, egotistical owner of Nashville’s most successful record label.

    Nashville also released a preview video that gives us a few clues as to what the rest of the season will hold. While neither Bilson nor Doubleday appear in the video — which features co-showrunner Marshall Herskovitz talking about future episodes — we get an update on Juliette (she’s being sweet with Avery and prepping for performances), Deacon (he’s finding it challenging to take over Rayna’s roles at home and at Highway 65) and Scarlett (who still doesn’t have a clue who her baby’s daddy is).

    Meanwhile, Herskovitz assures viewers that Big Red is still very much part of the show, despite Connie Britton’s departure earlier this season.

    “There is most definitely life after Rayna, that’s for sure,” he says. “And yet, we never forget her. She’s sort of a presence in each of the episodes, because that’s what happens in life.”

    Nashville Renewed for Season 6 at CMT

    (4/10/17) Rayna Jaymes must be smiling down on her former CMT series, because Nashville will be back for a sixth season, CMT announced Tuesday.

    Season 6 of the country-music drama will consist of 16 episodes, premiering in early 2018.

    Nashville made its official CMT debut in January to a total audience of 1.2 million, before floating down toward the 800,000-viewer range. But since Rayna’s death, the same-day audience has ticked up, settling back in around a million weekly viewers.

    CMT also revealed that the drama’s midseason premiere, which will pick up a few months after Rayna’s death, will air on Thursday, June 1 at 9/8c.

    Charles Esten (Deacon) and Hayden Panettiere (Juliette) happily shared the news with the cast and crew in a Facebook video that you can watch here.

    Kevin Kay Talks Future Of ‘Nashville’

    (3/31/17) (Kevin Kay, president of Paramount Network, TV Land and CMT) DEADLINE: Will CMT’s Nashville move to the Paramount Network and what is the future of the country music drama beyond its current season?

    KAY: I believe Nashville has a lot of life in it. I know that Rayna has passed away in a highly rated episode, and then the funeral was even more highly rated. We will see how the audience reacts to Nashville and the next 11 episodes but I believe that there are great fans of the show and it’s got a good future ahead of it, we are encouraged that we can continue to do it. I honestly think it’s a great show, I’ve been a fan of it forever.

    I think Nashville has done so much great work for CMT, it’s brought so many new viewers there, it’s really been a tremendous boom for that network. Would I run it also on the Paramount Network? Potentially but I don’t think we’re there yet. I think it’s a great show for CMT, which will remain in the original scripted business, and I think it’s done so much heavy lifting for them in helping viewers find not only Nashville and CMT but also find the other shows that are on CMT. I’m inclined to leave it there. I think that’s where it should be and maybe try to support it on Paramount Network with marathons, replays.

    Nashville's Will Chase, Two Others Join HBO's Sharp Objects Adaptation

    (3/29/17) HBO’s upcoming take on Sharp Objects has added a trio of actors to its already impressive cast.

    Nashville alum Will Chase has signed on to play grieving father Bob Nash in the adaptation of Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn’s novel, TVLine has learned. Bob’s daughter Ann was one of two preteen girls murdered in a small town; Amy Adams stars as crime reporter Camille Preaker, who returns to her hometown after a stint in a psychiatric ward to investigate the murders.

    Also joining the cast: Jackson Hurst (Drop Dead Diva), who’ll play small-town dreamer Kirk Lacey; and Jennifer Aspen (The Night Shift), who’ll play Jeannie Keene, another grieving parent whose son becomes a prime suspect in the murders. They join a star-studded cast including Adams, Patricia Clarkson, Chris Messina and Elizabeth Perkins.

    Big Little Lies director Jean-Marc Vallée is on board to helm all eight episodes, with UnREAL‘s Marti Noxon writing the episodes along with Flynn. And interestingly, HBO is referring to this as “the first season” — meaning it could possibly come back for more seasons, even if Season 1 covers the entire plot of the novel.

    Time After Time Cancelled at ABC

    (3/29/17) Time After Time is probably wishing for a time machine of its own right about now: ABC has pulled the H.G. Wells/Jack the Ripper drama from its schedule, effectively canceling the series.

    Match Game will air this Sunday at 9/8c — at Time After Time‘s usual time — and for the following two Sundays, the network announced in a press release Wednesday.

    Time After Time thus far has been averaging just 2.2 million weekly viewers and a 0.5 demo rating, while the first half of Match Game‘s sophomore run was pulling nearly 3 million viewers and a 1.0 rating in the Wednesdays-at-10 slot, where it enjoyed a solid lead-in. Its freshman run, airing Sundays at 10 last summer, performed even better.

    An ABC rep tells TVLine that at this time, there are no plans to return Time After Time to air.

    Glen Powell, Michiel Huisman, ‘Downton Abbey’ Actors Join ‘The Guernsey’

    (3/21/17) Mike Newell just added a number of new actors to his film The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society which is underway in the UK. Glen Powell (Hidden Figures), Michiel Huisman (The Age of Adeline, Game of Thrones), Matthew Goode (The Imitation Game, Downton Abbey), Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey), Tom Courtenay (45 Years) and Penelope Wilton (The BFG, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) have joined Lily James in the film.

    James stars as journalist Juliet Ashton who forms a bond with a secret book society formed during German occupation of the Channel Islands during WWII. The free-spirited Ashton forms a life-changing bond with the eccentric Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society,when she decides to write about the club.

    The screenplay was adapted from the Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrow international best-selling epistolary novel of the same name; the book was published by Random House and sold 7.5M copies in 37 countries.

    The script was written by Don Roos, Kevin Hood and Tom Bezucha. Producing is Paula Mazur and Mitchell Kaplan from The Mazur/Kaplan Company and Graham Broadbent and Pete Czernin from Blueprint Pictures (Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, In Bruges).

    Mazur/Kaplan is a book-centric production company that recently wrapped production on The Man Who Invented Christmas, directed by Bharat Nalluri, starring Dan Stevens (Beauty and the Beast) and Christopher Plummer. Also on its slate is The Silent Wife with Nicole Kidman and All The Bright Places starring Elle Fanning and directed by Miguel Arteta.

    Blueprint Pictures has two films slated for release in 2017: The first is James Marsh’s Untitled Donald Crowhurst Film starring Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz. The second is Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, starring Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell.

    StudioCanal is financing the project and will distribute in its own territories, the UK, France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. The company will also handle all other international rights.

    Rachel Bilson Reunites With Her ‘OC’ Co-Star Chris Carmack On The Set Of ‘Nashville’

    (3/13/17) (Photo) The OC fans, this one’s for you! Rachel Bilson recently joined the cast of Nashville for the second half of Season 5, and is already sharing photos from the set of the CMT series.

    Her first pic is a reunion between her and her OC co-star Chris Carmack, who plays Will Lexington on the country music series. “Welcome to Nashville B****… this is how it’s done in Tennessee,” reads Bilson’s caption, a reference to Chris’ now infamous line in the first episode of The OC.

    Bilson, along with Kaitlin Doubleday, were cast following the departure of Connie Britton. Though Marshall Herskovitz, executive producer and showrunner, stated that their addition to the cast is not related to Rayna’s death.

    “We made casting additions in the fall, and it was always our intention even before we decided that Rayna would die that we would make additions to the cast in the second part of the season, don’t think any of them is related to her death,” Herskovitz told Deadline.

    No details on Bilson’s character were unveiled, but the actress is expected to play a major role associated with the Rayna James’ record label Highway 65.

    Bilson portrayed Summer Roberts for The OC’s full four-season run. Carmack played Marissa’s boyfriend Luke Ward, a Newport spoiled, rich brat and jock, who appeared in the first season and one episode of Season 2.

    Nashville airs Thursdays on CMT.

    Jonathan Jackson Releases New Music — Listen to It Here!

    (3/13/17) Since leaving the role of GENERAL HOSPITAL’s Lucky Spencer, Jonathan Jackson has found success as singer-songwriter Avery Barkley on the primetime drama NASHVILLE, but in real life, the actor/musician also performs with his band Enation, and they’ve just released their newest single!

    Enation is made up of Jackson, his brother, Richard Lee Jackson, and friend Daniel Sweatt. They have released several albums, and their song “Feel This” became a top 10 hit on the iTunes national rock chart when it was featured in the CW series ONE TREE HILL. Their newest single is from their upcoming full-length album, and is titled “Revolution of the Heart.”

    “This is the most anti-political political song I’ve ever written,” Jackson declared on his website. “Our world is more divided than ever it seems. We need to love each other and remember our common humanity. The deeper longing that I’m ‘marching for’ personally is a revolution of the heart.”

    You can purchase “Revolution of the Heart” on iTunes and Amazon, and you can preview the driving rock track right here!

    Nashville Adds The O.C.'s Rachel Bilson and Empire's Kaitlin Doubleday

    (3/9/17) (Video) Nashville is fine-tuning its post-Rayna reboot, adding The O.C.‘s Rachel Bilson and Empire‘s Kaitlin Doubleday in major roles, TVLine has confirmed. The pair will make their debut when the CMT drama kicks off the second half of its current fifth season later this spring.

    The two high-profile hires come as the series forges ahead without leading lady Connie Britton, whose alter ego, Rayna, was killed off last month.

    Details on the characters Bilson and Doubleday will be playing are being kept under wraps, but both actresses hinted at their respective roles in separate social media posts late Thursday.

    “We welcome Rachel and Kaitlin into our incredibly talented ensemble,” said Nashville EP Marshall Herskovitz in a statement. “We fondly anticipate the second half of the season filled with surprising twists and turns that make Nashville so beloved by the fans.”

    CMT’s decision to acquire the series from ABC last year has thus far paid off. The series 5 premiere ranked as the cabler’s most-watched telecast in history. And last week’s episode — which focused on the aftermath of Rayna’s death — hit new season highs.

    Bilson is coming off of a four-year run on The CW’s Hart of Dixie (in which she at one point broke into song), while Doubleday recently concluded her two-plus season run on Fox’s Empire (where her character Rhonda met an untimely end).

    Nashville Finale Recap: Duet Again

    (3/9/17) ( Nashville’s Rayna Jaymes was such a force of nature, it takes not one, not two but a whole recording booth full of people to replace her.

    (On her final album, at least.)

    This week’s episode of the CMT drama — its midseason finale — allows for some closure following Rayna’s unexpected death two episodes back; where last week’s hour was all about the surreal numbness that permeates immediately following a huge loss, “Fire and Rain” sets the series back in its groove.

    The question of how (or whether) Rayna’s final songs will be released is addressed. The Exes line up a tour. Maddie has a taste of what her career might be like. And Scarlett ends the hour with quite the bombshell:

    She’s pregnant (!). And that’s only half of it, so prepare to clutch your Minnie Pearls. Read on for the episode’s highlights.

    BACK TO WORK | Rayna’s family is doing the thing that families do in the wake of a death: numbly stumbling along, going through the motions of banal activities like breakfast, waiting to feel better again. Deacon’s not quite as checked-out as he was in the previous episode; he balks when Scarlett hesitates to agree to a tour, gruffly-yet-tacitly suggesting that he doesn’t need her to stick around to mother him and the girls. And he’s irate when Zach suggests that they need to release Rayna’s final album pronto — even Bucky’s reasoning that they need cash, and fast, to pay for Wheelin’ Dealin’ Records, as well as the easy-out clause means Zach and his money could walk any day, doesn’t move Deke one inch.

    Luckily, Rayna recorded her scratch vocals for all of the songs before she died. So all that’s left is for Deacon to lay down his vocals, then for some production magic to whip the whole thing into sellable shape. And that’ll happen…? “Never,” Deacon vows, countering Zach’s argument that he owes it to Big Red’s fans by saying, “The only person I owe anything to is Rayna.”

    Also, because it seems important to raise this point early: Isn’t Zach richer than God? Couldn’t he just float Highway 65 until the album sales start rolling in?

    JU STEPS IN | Meanwhile, Maddie and Scarlett have been steadfastly refusing the myriad media requests that have come in since Mads, Daphne and Deacon performed “Sanctuary” at the CMT Awards. And when Juliette happens to be around as Scarlett hangs up on “one of the Jimmys” — Fallon? Kimmel? The world may never know! — she is incensed.

    “The girl is having a moment, whether it’s good timing or bad,” Juliette reasons, but Scarlett is very frowny/judgy about Ju’s offer to chaperone Maddie during a media tour of New York. “I am a different person than whatever that look you just gave me implied,” Juliette quips, and GUYS, I LOVE HOW SELF-AWARE JULIETTE IS THIS SEASON. Ahem. Sorry, I just get really excited about character growth.

    After talking it over with Deacon, Maddie decides that she will do a few talk shows, so she and Juliette fly to the Big Apple. First up is The Daily Show, where host Trevor Noah is incredibly nice to a very uncomfortable Maddie. (Side note: I was going to snark about how odd it seems to hear Noah play himself as a Mads fan, but then I remembered when we were stuck with Good Morning America or bust for every. single. media. thing. and I decided to just chill.)

    “Why did they want Maddie and not both of us?” Daphne asks Scarlett after they watch at home, and Scar’s answer — ”because the world is obsessed with beautiful young women, which is good for you, because you are fast becoming one” — is maybe not the most graceful way of explaining it?

    DEACON’S DARK HOUR | In case you’re wondering what Deacon is up to, he’s holed up in the bedroom, sniffing Rayna’s sweaters and trawling through her trove of old videos, journals and memorabilia. Nashville apparently has finally given up on trying to CGI-back the years and/or shoot Connie Britton and Charles Esten through gauze/scrim/trees or whatever they did the last time we were supposed to be seeing Deke and Rayna in their younger years. This time, different actors play the pair in 1991, and we watch a shaky amateur video of them kissing and goofing around in the recording studio. (For what it’s worth, I approve of the change.)

    As Deacon digs through the memories, he unearths video of one of Maddie’s first birthday parties, and watches Rayna on their wedding day as he reads her thoughts about finally, FINALLY becoming his wife. Then he cues up the behind-the-scenes footage that Zach’s camera guy shot for the making-of-the-duets-album video. It’s all too much for the cowboy, who has a full-body breakdown and winds up crouching and sobbing in the corner of the room. I feel for you, Deacon, I really do, but you’ll forgive me for a sec if I’m distracted by the shots of you and Rayna going at it like teenagers against the bowling alley wall a few episodes back… which means Camera Guy Gene succeeded in stalking you like a creepy creepster who creeps. Eew. (Does this revelation affect the hotness of the clip, though? No, it does not.)

    STRIKING WHILE THE IRON IS HOT (SAD, BUT HOT) | In New York, Maddie is more comfortable during a stop at Harry!. Unfortunately, that means that she speaks without thinking, which leads her to glibly blurt that “I’m not all like, ‘Thanks, Mom, for all the attention I’m getting” in the aftermath of Rayna’s death.

    She’s horrified to see that entertainment blogs are running with the “thanks, Mom,” quote, and she cries to Scarlett on the phone the next morning that she wants to come home. Scarlett very quickly says that her cousin shouldn’t care what Juliette thinks, because “Look at her life, look at some of the choices she’s made.” Oh, I’m sorry, Scarlett, you put on a strand of pearls and suddenly you’re the Queen of Perfect Decision-Making? Because I’m standing here with Damien and Liam and Caleb, and they’re all making faces similar to the one you shot at Juliette earlier in the episode.

    So Juliette cancels the Today appearance, but once they’re back in Nashville, she makes it clear “that I am disappointed by your lack of professionalism in New York,” adding that if the teen doesn’t take advantage of the opportunity afforded her by Rayna’s death, “you will regret it for the rest of your life.” And when Scarlett vehemently objects, Ju wheels on her, asking, “How would you know? Just because you’re afraid of success?” OUCH. Also? Kinda TRUE.

    They eventually all make nice, and Juliette goes a step farther by offering to guide Maddie’s career, because “I want to take you all the way to the top.” Ooh, I like where this is going…

    OOPS! | Meanwhile, Avery is torn up about not being able to help Deacon when he needs it most. So Avery organizes everyone — Gunnar, Scarlett, Juliette, Will and the girls — and assembles them all in Rayna’s home studio. When Deacon finds them there, they reveal that they’re going to help him finish the album by singing some of the tracks with Rayna, “in a way she would’ve loved,” Avery says gently.

    It’s a feel-good way to end the episode, and seeing/hearing everyone pitch in finally gets Deacon to the point where he can record some vocals of his own. A casual listening party at Highway 65 indicates that Zach and Bucky are pleased with the result, which is great and all… but I’m a jerk, because all I keep wondering is: Are Rayna’s fans really going to be into this? Especially if they had any indication that the original concept was an entire album of Rayna and Deacon duets? In short: Is this album going to sell?

    But don’t ponder that too deeply, because we’ve got bigger problems in the immediate future. After everyone leaves Rayna’s record company in a good mood, Scarlett hangs back to tell Gunnar that she will go on tour with him. But there’s one thing: “I’m pregnant.” And nope, she doesn’t know whether he or video director Damien is the father. See ya in a few months, y’all!

    Nashville Recap: Grace of the Ex

    (3/3/17) ( It’s all over but the cryin’… but there’s a lot of cryin’ left to do in this week’s Nashville.

    That’s to be expected, of course: While we’ve had a week to process Rayna’s unexpected death thanks to complications from a car accident, her loved ones have had just a few days. So when we check back into Music City, it’s a somber place, indeed. Deacon’s a mess. The girls aren’t much better. And the unholy alliance of Teddy and Tandy whirl into town to cause more potential heartache for Rayna’s grieving immediate family.

    Let’s take a look at what goes down in “I’ll Fly Away.”

    RAIN FOR RAYNA | The hour begins during Rayna’s graveside service, where Deacon is reading W.H. Auden’s “Funeral Blues” aloud in the pouring rain. He’s flanked by Maddie and Daphne; Tandy, Gunnar, Scarlett, Will, Bucky, Avery, Juliette (oh honey, are Bjork buns really the most appropriate funeral hairdo? Or is that just the grief talking?) and Clay are all there, too. Teddy’s there, too, let out of the clink for three days’ bereavement leave. For those of you who might be new to the show this season and are unacquainted with Rayna’s ex-husband, allow me to bring you up to speed: He married Rayna when she was pregnant with Deacon’s kid, did some shady things with money, covered them up, became mayor, got involved with a few really unsavory women (aw, remember Ol’ Leopard Panties?), had fisticuffs with Deacon, and eventually went to federal prison for embezzlement and other assorted ridiculousness.

    Deacon holds it together pretty well, considering, but he’s incapable of dealing with anyone during the post-ceremony reception at Rayna’s house. (And I’m incapable of not noticing that majestic entryway — have we ever seen it before?) He staggers up to the bedroom and stays there for the duration of the day.

    GRIEF TALKING | And that’s probably for the best, because Zach is downstairs doing his darndest to be the most socially awkward person at an inherently socially awkward event. He pulls out his laptop and plays some of the behind-the-scenes video his guy shot; seeing Ray alive and happy literally sends Bucky running from the room in tears. Then Zach takes it upon himself to be the first to raise a toast to his fallen bestie (of all of a few weeks), saying that he “always felt a connection to her” WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT HER STALKER SAID. It’s a good thing that Zach has Will nearby (“You meant well,” Lexington says by way of smoothing the rough moment) and Cadence in proximity, because a cute kid goes a long way toward easing lots of social gaffes.

    Glenn grabs a quiet moment with Juliette to let her know that the CMT awards are looking to have Faith Hill perform a tribute to Rayna, but Ju is adamant that she do it instead, declaring she is ” absolutely damn well enough!” to perform. And when the network agrees, Juliette is overjoyed… for a moment, until she sees herself in a full-length mirror, limping down the hallway. (We’ll get back to this in a moment.)

    GO AWAY, TANDY | Scarlett is super helpful — a phrase I never thought I’d write in relation to this show — and makes sure Tandy is supported and the girls are comforted and Deacon is as comfortable as possible. Of course, once the taking-care-of-everyone calms down a bit, she falls apart, too, sobbing in a hallway until Gunnar finds her and compiles with her sad request to “Please hold onto me.”

    By the end of the evening, Rayna’s place looks like the site of the saddest house party ever: guests passed out on couches (Side note: Poor Bucky!), empty cups and plates all over, and Maddie — who wanted to lean on Clay but was disappointed when he couldn’t emotionally step up — tucking Deacon into bed. “I don’t know who I am without her,” Deke says. “You’re my dad,” Maddie replies, sitting with him, rubbing his back and seeming far more mature than she ever has before.

    After most of the guests have left, Teddy and Tandy have a conversation in which she notes that Deacon is “barely functioning” and suggests that she and Rayna’s ex will need to step up in the days to come. And when they — as well as Scarlett and a very not-into-the-proceedings Deacon — meet with the lawyer the next day, the lawyer reveals that Rayna hadn’t determined who would have guardianship of her girls and her business (and the two are tied) in the event of her death.

    The basics: Legally, both Daphne and Maddie are Teddy’s kids, because he adopted Maddie after she was born. And that can be contested, but it’ll mean a messy court battle in which the girls will have to testify. Deacon comes out of his fog for the first time when Teddy starts talking about how he’ll be out of jail in three months and will be around more in order to take care of things. And Tandy is on board with that, because she’s got millions invested in Highway 65 (oh right! Who else forgot about that little detail?), and she doesn’t think Deke is up to the task of managing the business and fathering two girls. (Side note: I kind of hate Tandy in this episode.)

    A point I’d like to raise: Isn’t Maddie legally emancipated? Doesn’t that mean that she’s exempt from this custody war? (Anyone with actual legal expertise, feel free to chime in down in the comments. You can bill us later.)

    DON’T DO IT, DEACON! | The next day, Will and Zach have a business meeting at an art museum. Except, “This isn’t a business meeting,” Zach notes, and Will sheepishly replies, “I know.” They wind up kissing against a column, then Zach brings up the inherent conundrum of life: You know you’re going to die, but you’ve got to keep going regardless. Then they hold hands. Maybe this is the grief talking, but I don’t hate this pairing, y’all.

    Back at Rayna’s, Teddy and Deacon almost come to blows in the kitchen. It’s ugly. Later, Deke overhears Daphne crying to Scarlett that “either way I lose” if she has to choose between the two men. And by the time everyone arrives at Bridgestone Arena for the CMT awards, Deacon has decided to be the bigger man: He pulls Teddy aside and tells him that he won’t contest Teddy’s guardianship, if only to save the girls from a prolonged and painful fight. Noooooo!

    Will opens the awards ceremony by performing “By Your Side” while footage of Rayna flashes on the screens behind him. While that’s happening, Juliette — whom earlier we saw having a hard time in rehearsal — summons Maddie to her dressing room and suggests that Rayna’s older daughter take Ju’s place and sing during the show.

    Maddie protests that her mother would be so happy to know that Juliette was singing her song, “Sanctuary,” as part of the tribute. “No she wouldn’t,” Ju replies (ha!), and the Line Reading of the Night Award goes to Hayden Panettiere for that one. Brilliant. Maddie still says no… until Juliette goes out on stage and starts talking about listening to Rayna’s music on the radio in the trailer park when she was growing up, and then the teen has a change of heart.

    Juliette can somehow sense that, so she introduces Maddie, who walks out on stage. No rehearsal? No in-ear monitors? A super emotionally charged moment? WHAT COULD GO WRONG?

    TOEPICK TO THE HEART! | At first, Maddie does really well. But then everything hits her and she just can’t make it through the quiet ballad. Deacon and Daphne rush up on stage to hug her, which makes the crowd erupt in applause. And then little Daphne steps up to the mic and continues her mom’s tune, a capella. Deke grabs another microphone and joins in, and pretty soon the band and Maddie are back, too. The audience is on its feet in moments, Juliette is in tears on the side of the stage, and the whole thing is enough to sway Teddy to do the right thing.

    After Deacon and the girls exit the stage, Teddy meets him in the wings, calling his adversary “a good father” and adding, “I’d be obliged if you watched over them, be their guardian for now.” Deke gladly accepts, and the trio goes back out for a curtain call. The clapping? The tears? The triumphant reversal of something that seemed doomed just moments before? This is just like the end of The Cutting Edge, only sadder! And who would’ve thought Teddy, of all people, would land the emotional Pamchenko?

    Oliver Hudson To Star In ‘Splitting Up Together’ ABC Comedy Pilot From Emily Kapnek

    (3/1/17) Nashville alum Oliver Hudson is set as the male lead opposite Jenna Fischer in ABC’s single-camera comedy pilot Splitting Up Together, from Suburgatory and Selfie creator Emily Kapnek, Ellen DeGeneres’ A Very Good Prods. and Warner Bros TV.

    Written by Kapnek, based on the 2016 Danish series created by Mette Heeno, and directed by Dean Holland, Splitting Up Together is the story of a couple, Lena (Fischer) and Martin (Hudson) whose marriage is reignited by their divorce. They still live in the same house, alternating weeks, with one living upstairs and doing the parenting while the other lives downstairs in the guest apartment. Hudson’s Martin adjusts to his suddenly divorced life with hopeful optimism, but as a newly single parent, he can’t help but wonder — during unfamiliar moments of freedom — what went wrong in his marriage.

    Hudson, who got his first series starring role in My Guide to Becoming a Rock Star, is known for his stints as Adam Rhodes in CBS comedy Rules of Engagement, Jeff Fordham on Nashville and most recently Wes Gardner in Fox’s Scream Queens. He’s repped by ICM Partners, Management 360 and Ziffren Brittenham.

    George Strait, Kenny Chesney, Other Stars Light Up T.J. Martell’s Nashville Fundraiser

    (3/1/17) ( Stars were practically coming out of the light fixtures Monday night (Feb. 27) at the ninth annual T.J. Martell Foundation’s Nashville Honors gala held at the plush Omni Hotel.

    Before the evening ended, the crowd of some 500 well-heeled and well-connected donors were serenaded by and/or mingling with George Strait, Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Kelsea Ballerini, Eric Church, Chris Young, Montgomery Gentry, Charlie Daniels, Frankie Ballard, Craig Campbell, Styx’s Tommy Shaw and singer-actress Clare Bowen.

    “As you might have heard, my character has had a tough week,” said actor Charles Esten as he welcomed the crowd. He was referring, of course, to the widely-reported tragedy that beset the family of Deacon Claybourne, the character he portrays on CMT’s Nashville.

    It was Esten’s fifth year of hosting the banquet and auction that raises funds for cancer research.

    This year’s honorees were cancer research pioneer Dr. Joseph Smith, Olympic skating gold medalist Scott Hamilton; former Nashville Chamber of Commerce economic development officer Janet Miller, talent agent Rod Essig and concert and tour promoter Louis Messina.

    Ballard opened the musical proceedings, accompanying himself on guitar and singing his 2013 hit, “Helluva Life.”

    He was followed by Warner Music Nashville chief John Esposito, who paid tribute to the late music executive Tony Martell. Martell started the charity in 1975 after his son, T.J., died of leukemia. The fund has subsequently raised nearly $300 million for research, Esposito reported.

    The elder Martell died last November at the age of 90.

    Urging the audience to do even more for the cause, Esposito said, “I want 2017 to be the year of Tony,” and with that he raised a glass of champagne and invited everyone to join him in a toast to Martell with the flutes of champagne already conveniently placed at each table setting.

    It was an elegant dinner that featured rosemary-seared beef tenderloin steak and soft, butter-poached shrimp. Uniformed waiters stood at the ready to pour more wine as each glass was emptied. Bars remained open outside the dining area to service more resolute drinkers.

    Esten returned to his hosting duties to introduce Bowen, who plays his niece Scarlett on Nashville. Diagnosed with cancer when she was 4 years old, the Australian actress sang “Love Steps In” to honor her brother, who was found to have cancer at 25.

    Almost everyone who spoke during the evening had a cancer story to tell about themselves or someone close to them. Most of the stories were ones of triumphing over the disease.

    Charlie Daniels, a cancer survivor himself, presented Dr. Smith the medical research advancement award and told how the physician had comforted, reassured and treated him after his diagnosis. He also noted that Smith, who is at the forefront of high-tech cancer treatment, also goes regularly to Third World countries to apply his medical expertise to impoverished patients who would otherwise have no hope of cure.

    The reliably humorous Brad Paisley came out to roast and toast Hamilton, his longtime friend. After singing his latest single, “Today,” Paisley picked up on Esten’s reference to Hamilton as “an American treasure.”

    “He’s not big enough to be a treasure,” the less-than-towering Paisley mused. “He’s more of an American trinket.”

    Paisley praised Hamilton for his look-on-the-bright-side attitude, even after three separate bouts with cancer. He said that after Hamilton was operated on for testicular cancer, he brandished a license plate that read “RT1LFT.”

    Hamilton took the ribbing in good humor. Accepting the lifetime humanitarian award, he paused to explain that after Paisley’s Grand Ole Opry friend Little Jimmy Dickens died, he’s become the butt of all the singer’s “short jokes.”

    Esten related a cancer story that hit close to home. He said that after his 2-and-half-year old daughter was found to have leukemia, he was told that there was a good chance she would survive it. And, she has, he reported. “She’s now a junior at Brentwood High School and looking toward going to college.”

    Next up was Ballerini, who sang her No. 1 single from last year, “Peter Pan”

    Nashville Mayor Megan Berry presented Miller the Spirit of Nashville award for her work in bringing industries to the city and for the example of achievement she set for other women.

    In tribute to Essig, his friend and talent agent, Shaw sang an acoustic version of Styx’s 1978 single, “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights),” which he said he wrote for his father.

    John Huie, Essig’s partner at Creative Artists Agency and board chairman of the T.J. Martell Foundation, presented Essig the Frances Preston outstanding music industry achievement trophy. The late Preston was president was CEO of BMI, the performance rights organization, and inspiration for the Frances Williams Preston Laboratories at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville.

    Strait kicked off the final award round of the evening.

    “From one old troubadour to another,” he said from the stage, gesturing toward the table at which Messina sat. With that, he sang “Troubadour,” his wistful hit from 2008.

    Chesney, another of Messina’s superstars, came out to join Strait, who seemed in an unusually expansive mood.

    “What have you gotten me into?” Chesney demanded of Messina. “You know I can’t do this.” But on he went.

    He said that in honor of the occasion he had given a writer $20 to write him a speech, which he then began to read, painstakingly reciting the opening gibberish of the song “Louie Louie.”

    Then, adopting a Donald Trump tone of delivery, he said that Messina was “a huge idea guy … huge … believe me.”

    “I’m just a rock ‘n’ roll promoter,” Messina said, as he stood holding the Tony Martell lifetime entertainer achievement award. “All I do is bring a little music to America. And, actually, now global.”

    In addition to Strait and Chesney, his vehicles for bringing “a little music” now include Taylor Swift, Eric Church and Ed Sheeran.

    Messina said he’s wanted to promote concerts ever since he was 7 years old and saw Elvis Presley perform.

    ‘Nashville’ Showrunner On Tragic Exit’s Timing, What’s Next & Plans For Season 6

    (2/24/17) ( It was a tall order for Thirtysomething creators Marshall Herskovits and Ed Zwick — one of the first things they had to deal with as new showrunners of Nashville last summer was crafting an exit for star Connie Britton. With her blessing, they spearheaded a final 9-episode arc for her beloved character Rayna James. It culminated last night with Rayna’ tragic death stemming from a random car crash while Rayna was being driven away by police after surviving an attack by an armed stalker.

    In an interview with Deadline, Herskovitz talks about why they decided to have Rayna die in Episode 9, what to expect in the next two episodes before the series’ fifth season takes a break and are there plans for a sixth season. He also gives a “poetic” interpretation of what really killed Rayna and discusses possible casting additions following Britton’s exit.

    DEADLINE: Let’s talk about the timing of Connie’s final episode? Why Episode 9, two episodes before the midseason finale?

    HERSKOVITZ: My primary objective was to allow the audience time to absorb, respond and work through the shock of her death. It was originally suggested to us that we have Rayna die at the end of Episode 11, right at the end of this miniseason we are doing. I said, “No, that makes no sense, you can’t do that to the audience, ‘Oops, she died, bye, see you in 3 months.’ That would not work.” Once we understood that, we then saw that we really had to work backwards, how much time, how many episodes we need to process what happened. We arrived at the formula that we used — she had the accident in the eight episode, dies in the ninth episode and then we have the tenth and the eleventh to deal with the aftermath. It’s actually worked out very well.

    DEADLINE: What can you tell us about the upcoming two episodes?

    HERSKOVITZ: I feel incredibly proud of the tenth episode, which is the funeral and the aftermath of the funeral. I feel it is full of musical passion and love and connection and is in some way redemptive. When you watch this episode where she dies, you can feel nothing but shock and kind of disrepair at the end of it. When you watch the next episode, you feel a kind of redemption. That’s what I hope the audience will stay around for. Because it really gives a sense of how this family, this group of people, this show can go on without this person they love so much even as they miss her so much.

    DEADLINE: What will be the impact of Rayna’s death on those around her?

    HERSKOVITZ: Some of the characters will still be very deeply in the their grief of their loss. Others would move more easily. Life moves on relentlessly and other stories would happen but no one is going to forget her, the reverberations of her death will continue for many, many episodes. But I don’t want to imply that the show would become some sort of depressing house of mourning draped in black. Life will go on, and there will be other stories. There is a balance as there is in life. When it first happens, you are overwhelmed, and you begin to live your life again but you never forget the person that you’ve lost, and sometimes you are overcome by the emotions but you still live your life.

    DEADLINE: Are you planning to add another major female character to fill the void left by Connie’s departure?

    HERSKOVITZ: We made casting additions in the fall, and it was always our intention even before we decided that Rayna would die that we would make additions to the cast in the second part of the season, don’t think any of them is related to her death. It was our mandate when we came in this year to make certain changes in the direction of the show and that entailed unfortunately letting some cast members go and bringing some new ones in. We wanted to have more diversity of music, more diversity of people, there have been a lot of factors gone into how we’ve made these adjustments.

    DEADLINE: With Connie gone, would Hayden Panettiere become the lead of the series, or you will keep it as an ensemble?

    HERSKOVITZ: We’ve always seen this as an ensemble show. Rayna was the center, both Rayna and Juliette were at the center. We feel very comfortably doing an ensemble show with no one person at the center. But we don’t have to tell everyone’s story in every episode so there will be some episodes that concentrate more on Deacon, others more on Juliette. Just by changing that template, we can go deeper into the stories but tell fewer stories per episode.

    DEADLINE: What was the significance of the stalker storyline and the scene of him confronting Rayna?

    HERSKOVITZ: We had an idea from the beginning that there would be a stalker that would become increasingly frightening for the entire family because that is something we see in modern life all the time, so many celebrities go through it, and that would culminate in a very long and intense scene. That was a scene that was 9 minutes that you almost never see on TV, it was just these two people where they actually establish an odd and amazing connection with each other based on the fact that they both have experienced so much trauma in their lives.

    It was always our goal with this storylne to show Rayna’s ability in this moment, in such stark terror, to keep her head and to realize that the man confronting her was actually someone very vulnerable, someone who had injured himself and she could reach him by speaking to his vulnerability and emotionally disarm him. The idea always was that she prevailed in the situation because of her humanity, because she manages to touch his humanity.

    Rayna had gone through so much trauma in her life, so many people on the show had gone through so much trauma in their childhood, that’s a theme on the show. We felt that there was a real, almost karmic connection — the reason Rayna was in that police car going through a red light and being hit by a truck was because of what happened with that stalker. if he hadn’t been there she would not be there and it wouldn’t happen.

    So in some sense you can say, poetically speaking, that it was trauma that killed her because this man responded to her so deeply, because he saw something in her that he recognized in himself.

    DEADLINE: Have you thought about Season 6?

    HERSKOVITZ: We always start thinking ahead. We are beginning to formulate plans for sixth year but until we have definite word from CMT, there is limit to what we can do.

    DEADLINE: How was the call made how to write Rayna off the show? It was one of the first major decisions as showrunners you had to make.

    HERSKOVITZ: We had already taken over the show when CMT picked it up. That’s when Connie came came to us and said that even though she was still under contract, she felt at a creative level that she wanted to leave. It was actually a very painful decision for her because she felt close to the people on show, very close to the show itself but had been doing it for four years, and she just felt it was time to go.

    The next question was: could we figure out a way to write her out and could we get the network and the studio to go along with that. We worked together and we figured out a storyline that everyone felt comfortable enough with and proceeded.

    DEADLINE: Was writing Rayna off completely the only option you had?

    HERSKOVITZ: As it was expressed to us, there was no option other than she would leave the show, there was no talk of bring her back occasionally. And frankly, there was no scenario that we could think of where Rayna James would not be in regular contact with her husband and her daughters, it would just make no sense. There wasn’t a believable avenue where we could keep her in some way partially connected to the show. After some resistance on all of our parts, because we don’t want to see the character die, we accepted the fact that there was no others way for her to leave.

    DEADLINE: Why did you decide to give Rayna a scene with each main character from her inner circle in Connie’s final episode?

    HERSKOVITZ: The idea was to do this for our viewers. You want to give the viewers the chance to say goodbye, which is by watching her say goodbye.

    ‘Nashville’ Creator Callie Khouri On Tragic Twist, Its Inevitability & Aftermath And Why Fans Should Keep Watching

    (2/24/17) ( Nashville fans are mourning the death of the show’s beloved central character, country icon Rayna James, played by series star Connie Britton. She survived a scary run-in with an armed stalker and her second major car crash. The first, in the Season 1 finale, left her in a coma, which she eventually woke up from and completely recovered. The outcome was not happy this time. After visibly improving following a successful surgery to the point of being able to write one more song with husband Deacon and have heart-to-hearts with all important people in her life, including a hallucination of her late mom, played by Carla Gugino, Rayna’s condition suddenly deteriorated and she passed away, with her family by her side.

    In an interview with Deadline, Nashville creator/executive producer Callie Khouri, who directed Britton’s final episode, talks about the decision to kill off Rayna and why no other scenario they’d considered made sense, addresses the fallout from Rayna’s death and describes how it was being on the set of the show when Britton’s last scenes were filmed. The Oscar winner for writing Thelma & Louise also draws a parallel between the tragic heroines and Rayna and makes her case to Nashville fans why they should stick with the show after her passing.

    DEADLINE: Why Did Rayna have to die?

    KHOURI: It was an agonizing decision. We started the season knowing Connie had wanted to leave for a number of personal and professional reasons, having to do with the tremendous opportunities that are are out there for her. I know it was a decision that she wrestled with as well. We wanted to accommodate her. We love her and I wish that we had been able to figure out a way that made sense just to have Rayna go somewhere. But honestly I don’t believe that anyone would believe that in the midst of everything Daphne and Maddie were going through, Rayna would ever purposely leave her family just like that and leave Deacon. What is she going to do? We joked around a lot — kidnapped by Boko Haram? What are you gonna do?

    DEADLINE: Did you seriously consider any other scenarios?

    KHOURI: We talked about everything and did quite a bit of soul searching but the biggest hurdle was we could never come up with a plausible reason why Rayna would just disappear form the series. On top of it (having her die) certainly was a very Nashville thing to have happened. Nashville has seen its share of untimely losses over the years, beloved country stars. What we endeavored to do is have it be like real life, come out of nowhere and too soon.

    DEADLINE: Was there a possibility for Connie to stay on as a recurring guest star or it had to be a clean break?

    KHOURI: That was my understanding, that we had to let her out. For any actor, four years is a long time to devote when you are living in another city (Nashville films in Nashville), and she has a son she devotes an enormous amount of time to. There have been a lot of movie roles she has wanted to pursue along with other TV opportunities. We didn’t want to do anything that was dependent on holding her. And to have her dropping in and out just wasn’t dramatically desirable for her or for us.

    DEADLINE: Did Connie have a say in how the character would exit? Was she on board with the decision to kill off Rayna?

    KHOURI: Absolutely. We talk to her about everything, she was definitely part of the decision.

    DEADLINE: You were forced to write off Rayna prematurely because of Connie’s desire to leave. How did you envision Rayna’s story would end when you were creating the show?

    KHOURI: I’ve certainly never thought about where it would end. I think with a character that is iconic like this, you have to do something that is incredibly dramatic, and we are not far off from what I would done had we gone to cancellation.

    DEADLINE: You directed Connie’s finale episode. How was it on the set?

    KHOURI: We all were feeling very emotional. There were a lot of tears shed on the set. On the day we shot her final scene with the girls and Deacon in the hospital room, I took a picture of the trash can – one of those huge trash cans – literally overflowing with Kleenex. All of us were complete basket cases, not just the actors but the whole crew. We were really, really super sad. We wanted her to have a great and emotional exit from the show, which she really did.

    DEADLINE: Did Connie say something at the end?

    KHOURI: Yes, at the end of shooting we had a gathering. It was a really sad and loving occasion where she thanked everybody and we thanked her again. We cried quite a bit. It’s tough. Even with Thelma and Louise I never really thought of death as death. Connie and I talked about it, and I said wow, it’s so much harder than I thought it was going to be. It hit me a lot more viscerally than I expected.

    DEADLINE: You mentioned Thelma & Louise, in which the central characters’ stories also end with their deaths. Do you see other parallels with Rayna?

    KHOURI: I hope that Rayna James’ memory lives on much in the same way, that she becomes one of those female characters that people really use as a touchstone for a self-determining woman who is making the best of the life she has.

    DEADLINE: When crafting Rayna’s final arc, why did you decide to have a stalker storyline, and why did you decide not to end her life that way?

    KHOURI: Stalking unfortunately is all too common for people who are in the public eye, and we always planned at some point to have that as part of out story, to show what people who are famous have to deal with at the worst of times. We would talk about it every year. We decided that we didn’t want to end Rayna’s life at the hands of a stalker. The random surprise, the way death can just come out of nowhere, that’s the hard thing to deal with. It’s just something about that that appealed to all of us in the room, not seeing it coming, having a setup for thinking it was going to be one thing, having the relief of having gotten away with your life and then something else completely unconnected happened.

    DEADLINE: The crash that led to Rayna’s death. Was it an accident or there is a mystery behind who hit her?

    KHOURI: It’s random.

    DEADLINE: Rayna was in a great place with Deacon when she died. Was that intentional?

    KHOURI: Yes, definitely. We wanted them to be in a happy marriage and happy creatively, doing what they do best, having finally reached a place where they both felt really good about what they have come through.

    DEADLINE: What will be the fallout from Rayna’s death?

    KHOURI: We are going to do — as we try to do this season — very realistically watching people try to put their lives together, experience grief and loss and all of it that naturally comes from the loss of the most important person in your life.

    DEADLINE: Nashville fans too are grieving over Rayna’s death right now. What would you say to them?

    KHOURI: We have so much left to tell. If they love these characters, then they are going to love going through the healing process with them. The loss of this character is in every storyline, everything is geared around people dealing in a very real way with the loss of this incredibly special person. Thematically, there is still a lot there for fans to connect to and go through with us. I hope they will stay on the road with us and trust that we will keep delivering everything that we have been able to deliver for the past four seasons.

    Nashville EP Talks the 'Powerful' Fallout From Rayna's Fate, Custody Chaos and an Upcoming Time Jump

    (2/24/17) ( Once you’re able to move past the shock of Rayna’s passing in this week’s Nashville, one of the series’ showrunners wants you to really think about the confluence of events that put Connie Britton’s character in a doomed cop car at the exact moment a truck T-boned the car.

    “In that episode where the stalker confronts her, and we have that very long scene — very rare in television to have a scene that long — what’s revealed in that scene is that this guy was highly traumatized as a child, was beaten and had a horrible father and a horrible mother,” executive producer Marshall Herskovitz says, noting that the way Rayna was able to break through to the unstable man was by pointing out her own troubled youth. In fact, “This man was drawn to Rayna in some way unconsciously because of her trauma. He felt some connection to her because of what she’d gone through.”

    And if you play that line of reasoning out to its end, “If you ask me, it’s not a truck that killed Rayna,” the EP adds. “It’s trauma. She would not have been in that police car, speeding along through a red light, and hit by a truck if she had not been accosted by a man who recognized her [as someone who’d also undergone trauma]. Some way, karmically, the horrible things that were done to her as a child came back and destroyed her.”


    In the following interview about this week’s episode, Herskovitz discusses trying to keep Britton around, shooting that devastating final scene and figuring out what the show will look like without its leading lady from now on. (Hint: Looks like a custody fight’s a’brewin’.)

    TVLINE | We’ve heard Connie talk about why it was time for her to leave the show. How did you, co-showrunner Ed Zwick and the writers’ room come to the conclusion that Rayna had to die?

    Basically, when Connie came to me and said that she really wanted to move on creatively — and this is very important because she loved the show, she loved the people on the show — this was a very hard decision for her… At that time she had a contract obligating her to do this year, and she was torn… And I said, “Look, if you want to move on, we’ll figure out a way for you to move on.” We sat together and talked about it. We spent a week thinking if was there any way that Rayna could leave the show without dying. And the answer was no, because there’s nothing in the world, I said, other than being taking hostage by the Taliban — she would be in contact with her children and her husband. She just would, that’s who she is. You can’t say, ‘Oh, she’s on tour,’ and never hear from her. She’d be in there on their phones every minute. So we realized that, if she was going to leave the show, there was no alternative to having her die and that was painful for all of us — believe me. But, we just realized that was the only way.

    So then the question was, if you’re going to do something that overwhelming for the audience, what’s the best way to do it? What’s the most respectful way? What’s the most complete way in terms of allowing an audience to go through a process of the shock, the grief, the processing of it. You know, she’s been like a real character in many people’s lives for years and we knew how it important it was. So we wanted to do it right.

    TVLINE | Did you try to change her mind at all?

    Oh, I could tell there was no way to change her mind. [Laughs] We talked about it a lot. And by the way, I should say that I think that she would probably admit that she herself sort of wavered at various times. “Should I do it, should I not?” But, I could tell that this was really — from a very deep place as an artist that she felt she needed to do — and I respected that.

    TVLINE | Connie said that last scene was very tough to get through. She kept crying when she was supposed to be comatose. Were you on set for that?

    I was not on set, but I was in constant contact with everyone that day because it was such an emotional day. Literally on the phone like every 20 minutes. And also we have — modern technology is so remarkable — we found that I can use FaceTime in Los Angeles and see what’s going on in the monitor in Nashville in real time. It works incredibly well, and it’s so simple.

    …I think the extraordinary thing to me was the girls. I remember [series creator and episode director] Callie [Khouri] saying to me, toward the end of that day, Maisy [Lennon], who’s the younger of the two sisters, turned to her and said, “How is it I still have tears? How is it I’m still crying?” because they were crying in every take. And Callie said to her, “Because you’re a real actress. You really feel these feelings.” And everyone was so emotional. You know, it’s actually—I was so knocked out by that, the whole episode, especially that last scene. That last shot of [Charles] Esten, when he puts his head down on her and the tear comes down out of his eye… I remember looking at that. I remember I said to the person next to me, “Can you get an Emmy for one shot?” [Laughs] That wasn’t acting, that was something more. That was some state of grace as an actor, in other words, that was a total commitment of his being in that moment. You were watching a man shattered. You can’t pretend that, you know what I mean? That was just an incredible moment. You know they were all just… everyone felt it so intensely. They just felt the loss so intensely.

    TVLINE | You guys have two episodes after this before the midseason finale. What shape will those take for Deacon and the girls?

    I’m glad you brought that up, because I’m so proud of both of those episodes and I think that the next one after the death episode — the funeral and the aftermath of the funeral — is, in many ways, the most powerful hour of television I’ve been involved with in 20 years. I’m so proud of it, and I so want people to see it. Powerful as [Rayna’s death] is, to watch these people confront their grief is so extraordinary and so moving. I think it will really help the audience process their feelings about Rayna. I think both of the episodes will. But there’s something about the next one. It’s like a symphony; I can’t put it any other way. It’s just so musical and so lyrical and so full of love. And you just see into each person’s well of grief and love and feeling and connection. There’s a communality of it that is so profound, and I won’t go into the storyline because it’s a very, it’s actually — it feels like Dickens to me. It’s so profound. You know, I can give a hint that it has to do with what’s going to happen with the girls, but I won’t say any more.

    TVLINE | Is there any time jump? Have you talked about any time jump? Often shows do that kind of thing after a major event like this.

    When we come back, for the 12th episode, there will be a time jump equal to the amount we’re off the air: two-and-a-half to three months.

    TVLINE | Deacon and Rayna didn’t actually record any of their duet album, did they?

    Yes, they did. In fact, that’s going to play into upcoming stories. It’s not finished and that’s a big — that is, in fact, the dilemma that they face in the eleventh episode, the finale of this first part of the season. The fact that it’s not finished, and what are they going to do?

    TVLINE | We saw Juliette walking toward the end of the episode. Maybe that means the worst is behind her? Is that accurate in terms of her recovery after the plane crash?

    [Laughs] I’m not allowed to say anything.

    ‘Nashville’ Star Connie Britton Exits In Plot Twist, Reflects On Her 4.5 Seasons

    (2/24/17) (Video) It’s been a tough week for fans of soapy family drama series. After This Is Us‘ William lost his battle with cancer in a Memphis hospital Tuesday, Nashville‘s Rayna tonight passed away in another Tennessee hospital 200 miles away. The episode marks Nashville star Connie Britton’s departure from the country music drama after four and a half seasons.

    Britton had been the star and emotional center of Nashville since the series’ 2012 launch on ABC, with Hayden Panettiere as the co-lead, playing the bratty hot new country starlet Juliette to Britton’s fading superstar Rayna. When ABC surprisingly canceled the country music drama in May after four seasons, and it later was picked up by CMT, Britton, who was still under a contract, approached new showrunners Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick with a request to leave for personal and professional reasons. They obliged and conceived a final arc for Rayna, culminating in her death tonight, two episodes before Nashville’s midseason finale. (For more on that and why Rayna had to die, read my interview with Nashville producers Friday morning.)

    Britton’s Rayna landed in the hospital after the police car she was riding in — after coming face-to-face with her stalker — was hit by a truck. While she survived the crash and subsequent surgery, Rayna eventually succumbed to her injuries after being able to say goodbye to her children, Deacon and everyone else who had been close to her, and getting a visit from her late mom, played by Carla Gugino, in a hallucination.

    “Playing Rayna has been a privilege and a deeply enriching experience for me,” Britton said in a statement. “I am going to miss her grace, tenacity and feistiness. And I’m forever grateful and indebted to our unbelievably talented cast and crew, and to the Nashville community amongst whom I have had the honor to work. And then there are the fans. Wow. I’m so humbled by our incredible fans for their unwavering passion and commitment. They are the reason the show exists, and the reason the show will continue. I’ll be watching and cheering alongside all of you. Thanks for the honor of these 5 years.”

    Speculation about a pending Britton departure from Nashville — produced by Lionsgate TV, ABC Studios and Opry Entertainment — intensified earlier this pilot season when the Emmy-nominated Friday Night Lights and American Horror Story alumna was approached with pilot offers.

    In an exclusive video for Deadline, Britton talks about what drew her to the role of Rayna James and shares her thoughts about Rayna’s passing and the future of Nashville. “That was a tough week of shooting, I’ll tell you that,” Britton says about filming tonight’s episode. “It was hard to get through those days without everybody being in tears.”

    Nashville Tragedy: The Story Behind That Mother of a Cameo

    (2/24/17) Thursday’s Nashville was just full of surprises.

    The biggest shocker, of course, was the death of Connie Britton’s Rayna. And coming in a close-ish second? The stealth casting of Carla Gugino as Rayna’s late mother, Virginia, who appeared to her daughter via a hallucination just hours before she took her last breath.

    As Britton reveals, she personally reached out to “dear friend” Gugino and asked her to play the pivotal part. “And she jumped right in, as good friends do,” Britton says. “It was so special and incredible of her to do that with me. As you know, Rayna’s mom was the hero of her life.”

    The moving sequence was actually the “last scene” of the episode to shoot, Britton shares. “To have that be the last scene was pretty powerful.”

    Executive producer Marshall Herskovitz tells TVLine that he was in the process of “casting someone to play the mother” when Britton pitched him Gugino. “It never occurred to us in a million years,” he marvels. “It was just a great idea, and Carla said yes and she flew in the next day. They put that whole thing together at the last minute. And she was fantastic. So bless Connie for thinking of it.”

    Connie Britton Talks 'Devastating' Nashville Twist ('There Wasn't Any Alternative'), Teases Rayna's 'Return'

    (2/24/17) ( The following story contains massive spoilers from this week’s Nashville — proceed at your own peril.

    It was the flatline heard ’round the TV world.

    At the conclusion of Thursday’s Nashville, Connie Britton‘s Rayna succumbed to her car-crash injuries as her anguished soul mate Deacon (Charles Esten) and grief-stricken daughters Maddie (Lennon Stella) and Daphne (Maisy Stella) looked on. The heartbreaking twist came after months of speculation that Britton’s days on the creatively resurgent CMT drama were numbered.

    In the following Q&A with TVLine, Britton sets the record straight about her decision to part ways with the series, takes us behind-the-scenes of Rayna’s “devastating” death scene and teases her alter ego’s imminent return. The Emmy-nominated actress also reveals why she assured Ellen DeGeneres that she would be with Nashville “for the duration.”

    TVLINE | First off, for the record, this was your decision to leave, correct?

    It was. It was something that had been percolating over time, and there were lots of different reasons behind it. But my priority was really making sure that the timing was right. My priority has always been Nashville. So when the show was moved to CMT and we got these great new showrunners — Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick — I was [confident] the show would be in a good place. Because one thing we learned over the summer is how passionate the fans are. We would not be on the air right now if it weren’t for the fans. We’ve all been so incredibly grateful for that. But the fans love every single one of these characters. And the show is now in a place where all of these characters can live and just be incredibly dynamic and amazing. I feel like Nashville can go on indefinitely.

    TVLINE | Did you feel like you accomplished everything you set out to with Rayna?

    Maybe that was part of it. As I said, there were a lot of things that came into play. Some of them were personal… It was just the right timing.

    TVLINE | Was it weird shooting these nine episodes knowing you were going to be leaving but everyone else would be staying?

    Yes. It was. It was sad. It was very hard to say goodbye. Every time I worked with Chip [Esten], we just both kind of would look at each other with these sad, puppy-dog faces. [Laughs] And then I’d be like, “I’m really sorry, babe.” It was very hard! Particularly, of course, those final episodes. And that final episode was devastating. There was no easy way around it for anybody.

    TVLINE | The show is in the midst of a creative resurgence. When you were reading the scripts this season, did you ever have any second thoughts about leaving?

    No, I didn’t second-guess my decision. Look, I was just thrilled that the show was able to improve. That was something that felt really essential to me. I was absolutely grateful for that. But as I said, there were other factors that came into play. I did [say] to Marshall at one point about, “Hey, I could stay on and do a few more [episodes] if we’ve got more story to tell.” [But] I think at that point we were very committed to [this ending].

    TVLINE | Some fans are going to be especially shocked by Rayna’s death after you assured them last month on The Ellen DeGeneres Show that you would be sticking around for “the duration.”

    The duration of Rayna’s character. [Laughs] To be completely honest, I was taken off guard. I had no idea that Ellen was going to bring up [the exit rumors]. I was really [put] on the spot and I had to protect the story. My commitment has always been to the show. But I’m not a good liar! [Laughs] So, “I’m in it for the duration,” in my mind [means] I’m in it for the duration of… what I perceived to be this character. But of course, I understand why it was construed in the way it was. That was a very difficult moment for me.

    TVLINE | Did you have any say in how Rayna would leave?

    No. Marshall definitely shared his ideas with me. And I was so appreciative of that. It was so important to me, as I said, to do it in a way that felt like it was honoring the character. I really wanted to do justice to Rayna. And I felt like he really did that… I was not excited for Rayna to die though. [Laughs]

    TVLINE | Was there ever any discussion of her leaving town versus dying?

    When I was talking to Marshall this summer, I was like, “Does she have to die?” [Laughs] But then I realized: She would never leave her family. She would never leave her kids. She would never leave Deacon. So there really wasn’t any alternative.

    TVLINE | Is this week’s episode the last we see if her?

    I do pop back in in after Episode 9. And Nashville‘s always going to be important to me, so I’m totally open to whatever as time goes on. But it is really hard to say goodbye to this character.

    TVLINE | Rayna had a lot of final moments with various characters. Which was the hardest to shoot?

    Probably the scene where I die and [Chip, Lennon and Maisy] were singing “A Life That’s Good.” We could not get through it. I was lying there, supposedly dying, and just had tears streaming down my face; I was trying not to slobber. And the girls couldn’t get through the song. We did probably five takes where they could barely get three words out. That was really hard — in a very real way. The crew was crying. It was a tough week.

    TVLINE | What was your offscreen goodbye with Chip like?

    Well, Chip and I still talk on the phone. We had several goodbyes. And I keep going back. Every time I come back, he gives me those puppy-dog eyes and a long hug. There were a couple of very teary goodbyes between us, too. With him, we’ll be friends for a long time.

    TVLINE | Is there anything you would’ve liked to have seen Rayna do that you didn’t get a chance to? Another car accident?

    Yeah, that’s what I need. Just one more car accident. [Laughs] I really wanted to delve into Rayna and Deacon’s [life as a married couple]. We had that one big episode where they’re writing their record together. If we could have spent a little more time on that, I would have loved it. I loved those two characters together. And I feel like after we had the great satisfaction of watching them get married last year, we never got to experience the rewards of that — [especially not] last season. We definitely got some of that [this season]. But I could have had more.

    TVLINE | What’s next for you?

    Honestly, I’m going to take a little rest, if such a thing is possible. I’ve been doing network TV for 10 years straight without a break. And I adopted my son five years into it… But I also love to work. There are a couple of film things coming up that I’m excited about. In terms of TV, I’m very open to whatever comes around. But moving forward, I like the idea of maybe starting something from the beginning and being really at the ground level in terms of development and creation. To me, that would be very exciting.

    Nashville: [Spoiler] Dies — Yes, Really

    (2/24/17) ( Connie Britton is, indeed, leaving Nashville. And this week’s episode chronicles in heartbreaking detail the tumultuous final hours of Rayna Jaymes’ life. (As it turns out, the hour isn’t Britton’s last with the show. More on that here.)

    “If Tomorrow Never Comes” is a great — perhaps the best — episode of the country-music series. It is also the most heartbreaking. I have watched a lot of screeners during my time at TVLine, but this installment of Nashville was the first one that made me cry at my desk. And I won’t be able to hear “A Life That’s Good” the same way again.

    Read on for the highlights of the episode.

    PHEW! | From Rayna’s point of view, we experience her being wheeled into the emergency room. It’s not good: The car crash at the end of the previous episode left her with a crushed pelvis and hip and a broken leg. While Deacon speeds to the hospital, he calls Maddie and tells her to get there ASAP; Gunnar phones Scarlett, who’s still in bed with Damien, and relays the message that Deke needs her to pick up Daphne from choir practice at school.

    Rayna is looking pretty beat-up (and understandably so) when Deacon arrives; she’s on a lot of morphine, and she needs surgery soon. But she wakes up and gives him a sheepish smile, asking, “Can you believe this?” The officer driving her car is fine, and Ray doesn’t remember much about the accident. But by the time Scarlett, Daphne and Maddie arrive at the hospital, Rayna is making loopy jokes — “What is it with me and car accidents?” — and teasing the doctor who wants to play her music during the operation to choose the playlist carefully, because “there were a couple of clunkers back in the ’90s.”

    Maddie, meanwhile, takes a few panicked gulps of air and then runs out to throw up in the ladies’ room. Scarlett follows her and assures the guilty-feeling teen that her mom’s coming to see Clay play didn’t directly lead to the accident. While Rayna’s four-hour surgery is going on, Maddie retreats to Clay’s car — he’s dutifully waiting in the parking lot — and asks him to drive while she cries.

    CRASH POSITIONS | Everyone else — Deke, Daph, Scarlett, Gunnar, Bucky and Will (oh hey, Will!) — hang out in the waiting room until Rayna’s surgeon comes in to say that everything went well and that, with rehab, Big Red should be OK. Yay! And when she wakes up, Rayna tells a relieved Deacon that she really wants a cheeseburger… and she’s starting to recall details about her ordeal. It’s a lot like the last time she woke up in a hospital bed after a crash, she says, except “What’s different now is that you’re right here next to me. That’s just the sweetest feeling in the whole world.” Then she holds a brief business meeting with Bucky and demands that Deacon get his guitar, because they’ve got some songwriting to do.

    He gently says no, but she’s insistent that they write a coda to the album, one that makes it clear that their relationship hasn’t all been about pain: “We’ve got to write that beautiful story,” she says, drugged but sincere.

    MOM TALK | Deacon texts Maddie to let her know everything is OK. She and Clay are walking on the bridge where her dad proposed to Rayna… y’know, the second time, not the drunk time that ended with the throwing of jewelry. Maddie muses about a day when she and Rayna were walking on the bridge together, and Maddie realized for the first time that her mom was a person outside of being her primary caretaker/punching bag. Clay chimes in that life with his mom was always a “rollercoaster.” (Side note: I realize this is so not the point of this episode, but I’m still not loving Clay. He feels like everything I thought was interesting about guys when I was 15… but later realized was either emo-boy posturing or gigantic red flags. Maybe that’s the point?)

    JULIETTE ARRIVES | When Juliette learns what happened to Rayna, she pushes right past the nurses and barrels into Big Red’s room. The country divas engage in some gentle ribbing (JULIETTE: I don’t want to talk about me right now. RAYNA: But you’re so much better at it than I am.) before Rayna dreamily notes that her former frenemy has changed. “It’s like when you fell outta the sky, something shook out of you,” Rayna explains, wondering what will shake out of her when all is said and done. “Somethin’ good,” Juliette says quietly. What a gorgeous, intimate scene for the two of them. I wish we’d have had more of these.

    The next morning, Deacon brings his beloved a smoothie and a cheeseburger, which she downs handily, and everything seems like it’s going to be OK… until Rayna starts seeing her dead mom — played by Carla Gugino (Wayward Pines)! — sitting in the chair next to her bed. “I’ve really missed you,” Rayna says, crying, then telling her mama that she and Deacon need to write another cut for their album. But VisionMom disagrees, saying, “Maybe this song is finished.” Guys, I don’t think she’s talking about music. Reba take the wheel!

    After Deke comes in and sees Rayna talking to an empty chair like she’s Clint Eastwood at the 2012 Republican Convention, he freaks — but Rayna’s doctor says nothing is wrong. So other friends come to visit, like Scarlett who evokes one last burst of feminism in the feisty invalid when Rayna points out that women often find themselves the objects of relationships instead of equal partners in them. “We get to choose, too,” Ray says. “We get to choose to be happy, because we deserve it.”

    I’D GO CRAWLING DOWN THE AVENUE | After a sweet interlude with Daphne — as they lay next to each other, Rayna reminisces about how she used to nap in the same bed as her younger daughter back when they were traveling on tour buses — Daph’s crush Finn organizes the school choir to sing in Rayna’s room so she can hear Daphne perform her solo. Their acapella version of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love” is gorgeous. It’s perfect. And it also is the soundtrack of the beginning of the end.

    While Daphne sings her heart out, Deacon notices that Rayna’s not doing OK. Soon, the medical staff is pushing the kids out of the way to get to Rayna, Deke is panicking, monitor alarms are going off and this? This is the exact moment that Michael Ausiello noticed my emotional state and messaged me, “Please don’t try to hug me.”

    Rayna is immediately wheeled to the Intensive Care Unit. Deacon texts Maddie, who’s stuck in traffic after spending the night at Clay’s, and tells her to get back now. So she gets out of the car and runs toward the hospital. In the ICU, a doctor explains to Deacon that Rayna’s kidneys are shutting down because tissue from her bone marrow leaked into her circulatory system, and all they can do is wait and hope everything straightens itself out. He sneaks into her area when no one’s looking, and Rayna makes him promise he’ll be strong for the girls “if something happens.” He kisses her on the mouth as the nurses rush in to tell him to leave, and that’s when he breaks a little. “Don’t leave me!” he cries. And when Rayna replies not with “I won’t!” or “It’ll be OK” but “I’m sorry,” that’s when it becomes clear, at least to me: She’s dying.

    THE END | Daphne realizes the same thing when she winds up outside Rayna’s door, and Deacon just holds her as she completely falls apart. Juliette, who earlier in the episode complained that her leg felt like it was “rotting” but who just got good news that she’s fine, makes her way to the ICU with Avery in tow and figures now is as good a time as any to dump her crutches and walk on her own. So, she does. She kisses a comatose Rayna on her forehead and whispers, “All I ever wanted was for you to be proud of me,” which is sweet and all but which struck me as a very melodramatic moment in an episode that otherwise felt very real. Gunnar, Scarlett and Maddie also show up, and there are a whole lotta tears all around.

    Later, it’s just Deacon, Maddie and Daphne sitting by Rayna’s bed. When the younger sister says she doesn’t know what to say to her mom, Maddie starts singing, “A Life That’s Good” in a cracked, teary voice. Daphne joins in, harmonizing. Deacon adds his voice on the line, “I don’t need faith.” IT IS GORGEOUS AND EXCRUCIATING AT THE SAME TIME. As they hit the part about “Two arms around me, Heaven to ground me,” Rayna opens her eyes and sees them for the last time. Then she closes her eyes, flatlines and dies.

    The girls start sobbing, lying on top of their mom, and Deacon can’t do anything but collapse on top of them. The nurses come in to try to resuscitate, but it seems like a formality. The camera closes in on Deacon’s face, gripped in grief, as a tear slips out.

    And just like that, Rayna’s gone, y’all.

    Nashville Recap: What Doesn't Kill You... Still Might Kill You

    (2/16/17) If you’ve got candles, Nashville fans, now would be a good time to light ’em.

    Because Rayna Jaymes, the First Lady of Country Music and keeper of Deacon Claybourne’s heart, survives an attack by a crazed stalker in this week’s episode… only to be involved in a terrible car crash in the hour’s final moments.

    It doesn’t look good for Rayna as the episode closes, and that preview of next week’s installment isn’t very comforting, either. And I don’t care how many Scarlett-boning-Damien scenes or teen-coming-of-age storylines you throw at me elsewhere in the episode to lighten it up, Nashville: I’m gonna be worried for the next six days and 23 hours, thank y’all very much.

    Read on while we cover the highlights of “Stand Beside Me.”

    UNWELCOME GUEST | Good news: Deacon and Rayna are about to start laying down tracks for their new album! Bad news: Carl Hockney, the crazy fan stalking Rayna (as opposed to the crazy fan who worked for her or the crazy fan who’s currently financing her record label) made bail and is a free man.

    To guard against another incident, Rayna and Deacon hire body guards to shadow them and the girls (much to Maddie’s dismay). But beefing up security suddenly seems like a good idea when Hockney decides to stand outside Rayna’s front gates — which are just far enough from the house to be outside the distance dictated by the order of protection — and taunt the family with his presence.

    Deacon is ready to shove his six-string where the sun don’t shine, but the security guards talk him down. “He wants your attention, and he’s getting it,” one of them says, assuring the worried couple that Hockney eventually will slip up, and when he does, they’ll have him arrested again. He advises Rayna and Deacon to go about their lives and “think of him like a terrorist.” Because I know I would be super able to focus on my daily life, knowing that there’s a terrorist parked outside my perimeter…

    ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT’S ME, DAPHNE | Actually, scratch that: There’s at least one member of the household with more pressing issues on her mind. Daphne gets her period for the first time at school, and though she retreats to the girls’ room and makes a frantic call to Maddie, it’s Rayna who shows up at school with a change of clothes and a “my baby’s growing up!” look on her face.

    Daph is mortified, later taking out her anger on Maddie, who couldn’t leave her internship and therefore called Rayna to sub in on the menstrual rescue mission. “I get that you’re having a tough day, but you can’t be treating me like this. I did nothing wrong!” Mads yells at her sister, and MY HOW THE WORM HAS TURNED.

    And when Deacon is clued into what’s going on, his dad-ly discomfiture is quite cute. Rayna suggests that she somehow commemorate Daphne’s maturation, which prompts this discussion.

    DEACON: Let’s throw her a party.
    RAYNA: A period party?
    DEACON: Is that not a thing?
    RAYNA (with that “bless your heart, you silly man” look on her face): No, honey. That’s not a thing.

    But then he pulls her close and says, “Good god, I love you” all low and growly, so they make out, then sneak off to shag.

    Oh, and Rayna gets Daphne some jewelry as a “first moon gift,” because apparently this show is engaging in a Game of Thrones crossover of which I was not aware. Will the girl be promised to Tyrion on the morrow, then?

    THE EXES LIVE UP TO THEIR NAME | Scarlett can’t figure out whether or not she should still be with Gunnar. Deacon tells her that she’s an adult, and she should do whatever the heck she wants. And apparently, she wants to do Damien. So after breaking up with Gunnar after telling him that she feels “numb” about him — yeah, it goes over about as well as you’d expect — she winds up at the British director’s hotel room, where they have sex and eat waffles.

    IN WHICH JU OVERSTEPS | Juliette approaches the choir at Hallie’s church about performing on her gospel album. And even though she’s been going to Bible study and is generally welcome at the house of worship, her request that the group sing with her rubs a few members the wrong way. When pressed, Ju admits that she’s only been attending services of any kind for the same amount of time that she’s been listening to gospel: just a few months. “I feel like I’m transported when I listen to your music,” she says, but she sounds way out of her depth, and one of the women calls her out on it: “You know this is black music, right?” It gets heated, and things go downhill fast.

    When Ju goes back, much calmer and far more humbled, she shares that she’s sinned a lot in her life, and that Hallie and her faith community came along at a time when Juliette was at rock bottom. “I don’t want to steal from you, I want to honor you,” she says quietly. “I want to honor God and his mysterious ways.” And if they don’t want to record with her, she’ll still come back — but “I realize I’m just a guest here.”

    Apparently, her repentance is enough to win over the holdouts. “Come on back, girl,” a choir member named Vonetta calls, smiling, as Juliette starts to limp away. “Don’t we gotta figure out what you want us to sing?”

    WORST NIGHTMARE REALIZED | Maddie attends Clay’s show at The 5 Spot, and so does Rayna. After the show, Ray tells her daughter’s boyfriend that she’s impressed with his talent, and she invites him by Highway 65 for a conversation about his future (think advice, not a record contract). He’s happy, Maddie’s smiling, and they leave — with a security guy in tow — as Rayna goes to Highway 65 to do a little work before hitting the studio with Deacon.

    Rayna’s security guy sweeps the building… but apparently misses the broom closet where Hockney has been hiding since the previous afternoon, because the insane-o walks right into Rayna’s office once she’s alone. (Side note: Worst. Security. Team. Ever.) Hockney is unhinged, rambling, red-eyed and twitchy, holding a kitchen knife and asking Rayna to call him “Wayne” — his middle name — while explaining that he knows from her music that she’s the only one who understands him.

    Rayna is so, so scared as she tries to humor him, getting him to put away the knife as she says that Deacon goes by his middle name, too. (Totally-unimportant-at-this-moment side note: Did we know this? I feel like I did not know this.) It comes out that Hockney has abusive parents, so Rayna shares her own story about her sociopath dad who had her mom killed — oh yeaaaah, remember that? — but it’s mainly so she can cover pulling her phone from her purse and dialing 911.

    Carl/Wayne flies into a rage when he realizes what she’s done. “I have two daughters who need me. That’s all I care about right now,” she says, dropping the sympathetic act. As he grabs her and pulls the knife out, the Nashville police department gives Ray’s security guys a heads-up that they might wanna check out what’s happening inside. The guards run in, guns drawn, and find Hockney with his knife to Rayna’s throat. It’s tense, but then Carl/Wayne apologizes and lets her go. The security dudes tackle him while Rayna bends in half and begins to sob.

    ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS… | Next thing we know, she’s draped in a blanket and being loaded into a police cruiser that’s going to take her home. She pulls out her phone and calls Deacon, crying so hard that he can barely understand her. “Something terrible happened, but it’s OK. I’m OK. I’m coming home,” she says amid the gulps and wheezes. Deke, understandably, is confused and on the verge of losing his stuff. “Come home, baby,” he says, worried. And that’s when a pickup truck (oh god) T-bones (oh god oh god) Rayna’s car (oh god oh god oh god).

    The accident is shocking, juxtaposed as it is with the end of the Hockney storyline: If anything bad were going to happen to the Red Queen, most of us assumed, surely it would’ve come at the crazy man’s hand, right? But because we’re lulled into a false sense of security — well, unless you were present for Vaughn’s extraction scene in Alias‘ fourth season finale — the moment of the crash is super jarring and quite upsetting and I would like someone to hold my hand until at least the midseason finale, please and thank you.

    Will Chase Series, Time After Time, Debuts March 5

    (2/16/17) “Pilot” – Using the 1979 novel and movie as a launching point, “Time After Time” chronicles the adventures of a young H.G. Wells, as he travels through centuries, decades and days in the time machine he created. In the pursuit of the charismatic (yet secretly psychopathic) Dr. John Stevenson, better known as “Jack the Ripper,” Wells arrives in modern day New York City, searching for Stevenson after the doctor escapes authorities in Wells’ London home. But instead of the Utopia he imagined, Wells finds a world more aligned with Stevenson’s temperament in a series charged with danger and adventure, and centered in thrills, satire, humor – and most of all, an epic love story, SUNDAY, MARCH 5 (9:00–10:00 p.m. EST), on the ABC Television Network.

    “I Will Catch You” – Presented with the real possibility that Vanessa Anders is in fact Wells’ great granddaughter, H.G. and Jane continue to search for Dr. John Stevenson, but when their final face-to-face meeting goes anything but planned, the doctor is back on the loose, on “Time After Time,” SUNDAY, MARCH 5 (10:00–11:00 p.m. EST), on the ABC Television Network.

    “Time After Time” stars Freddie Stroma as H.G. Wells, Josh Bowman as Dr. John Stevenson (Jack the Ripper), Genesis Rodriguez as Jane Walker, Nicole Ari Parker as Vanessa Anders, Will Chase as Griffin and Jennifer Ferrin as Brooke.

    “Pilot” teleplay by Nicholas Meyer, story by Karl Alexander & Steve Hayes. “I Will Catch You” was written by Kevin Williamson. Marcos Siega is the director of “Pilot” and “I Will Catch You.”

    Broadway Star and Supergirl Actress Laura Benanti Welcomes First Child With Husband Patrick Brown

    (2/14/17) Laura Benanti just gave birth to her forever Valentine!

    The Broadway star and Supergirl actress welcomed her first child, a daughter, with husband Patrick Brown on Tuesday, February 14. A rep for the celeb tells E! News in a statement, "Laura gave birth to a healthy and beautiful baby girl at 3:33pm eastern this afternoon.Baby and mom are doing great!"

    Benanti joined the cast of Supergirl in 2015, and most recently lended her comedic skills to The Late Show With Stephen Colbert impersonating First Lady of the United States, Melania Trump. She's an onstage veteran in the Broadway community, and won a Tony Award in 2008 for her starring role in Gypsy.

    In August 2016, Benanti and Brown took to Twitter with the exciting news that they were expecting.

    "Doing a little research with @impbrown," she announced. "Coming this winter… #BabyGirlBrown."

    A year prior, the Nashville alum opened up about suffering a miscarriage in an essay for Huffington Post.

    "Believe me, I would much rather be writing about how much I love pizza and fanny packs," Benanti shared. "But the loneliness and isolation I've experienced in dealing with my miscarriage have given me a deep empathy and gratitude for the women who have opened up to me about their own painful stories."

    Benanti and Brown tied the knot in 2015.

    Congratulations, you two!

    Nashville Midseason Finale Date Set

    (2/10/17) Like the Music City bands it chronicles, Nashville is preparing to finish one set and take a breather before the next.

    TVLine can exclusively reveal that the CMT drama will air its midseason finale on Thursday, March 9, at 9/8c.

    No word yet on when the season will resume.

    Last night, the network aired a very troubling (for Rayna fans, at least) promo in which it appears that Carl Hockney cares not one whit for that restraining order filed against him. (Promo)

    Nashville Recap: Storm Chasers

    (2/10/17) It’s time for The Exes to be exes again.

    Look, it’s OK. Not every Nashville couple is going to be the second coming of Deacon and Rayna. And Scarlett and Gunnar have been trotting around the relationship ring so long, even the rodeo clowns are bored with their on-again, off-again romantic shenanigans. It’s time for those particular ponies to gallop off in different directions, because they’re no good together anymore.

    Elsewhere in the episode, Rayna and Deacon have trouble writing their album together, and Maddie and Clay’s love nearly burns down the house. Well, an overbaked cake nearly burns down the house… but Maddie and Clay take the heat.

    Read on for the highlights of “Hurricane.”

    TOO MUCH, TOO SOON? | Let’s start with those former Bluebird staffers, who can’t seem to connect after their very popular music video hits the Internet. While Gunnar and Scarlett are sitting at a diner, she gets a call from NBC and he gets one from AfterBuzz Nashville; both media outlets want them for big opportunities. (Side note: No way would either of those places call the artists directly. That’s what PR machines are for. But whatevs.)

    I’m not going to wonder why the Today show’s fourth hour — that’s the Kathie Lee and Hoda section, for those of you scoring at home — would devote an entire segment to an up-and-coming country band’s first music video. I’m not going to ponder why they’d invite the director of that video in for the interview, as well. I’m going to assume that Damien’s publicist has some dirt on Kathie Lee, and I’m going to leave it at that. Anyway, Damien touches Scarlett’s bare shoulder during the interview, and while she doesn’t pay it much attention, Gunnar certainly does.

    So when Damien asks them both out for dinner, Gunny does one of those, “Go if you want to I don’t even care whatever GOD!” things… and she goes. By the time they’re on dessert, it’s clear that Damien isn’t even trying to hide the fact that he’s totally coming on to the pixie-haired singer. Thing is: She’s totally into him, too.

    GLUTTON FOR PUNISHMENT | By the time they bump into each other outside Highway 65, where Damien is going to say goodbye to Rayna before he leaves for another gig, Scarlett has forgiven every single ridiculous, hurtful, assumptive thing the director said to her during the “All of Me” shoot. He kisses her. She likes it.

    And she tells Gunnar about it soon after, adding that she has feelings for Damien. “That’s not exactly breaking news,” Gunnar says, hurt. “The question is: What are you going to do about it?” When she replies that it doesn’t matter, because Damien is gone, can you blame Gunny for getting all huffy?

    “OK, I need you to grow up. I am with you. Does that mean anything to you?” Scar says, and eventually sexes him back into submission, but things are not OK between the two of them. (Based on the series of texts Damien sends to Scarlett while she and Gunnar are between the sheets, everything’s about to get more difficult: Damien is staying in town, and he “need[s] to see you.”)

    Perhaps more problematic? When Scarlett is walking with Gunnar, a woman recognizes her from the video and asks her to sign a CD — yet completely ignores the male half of The Exes. Get ready, Gunnar: Scarlett is on her path to Gwen Stefani-dom, while you’re just that dude from No Doubt. (No, the other one.)

    BETTER TOGETHER | Rayna and Deacon spend a lot of this week’s episode rehashing the “We should make an album based on our relationship!”/”That is the worst idea ever!” argument, but by the end, they make up and write a beautiful duet called “My Favorite Hurricane.” Really, the most important thing you should take away from the R&D portion of this week’s episode is that they have a stand-up makeout sesh up against the back of a bowling alley and it is [fire emoji]] [tabasco emoji] [cat with heart eyes emoji] [sriracha emoji] [recapper fanning herself emoji].

    Meanwhile, Zach wants a filmmaker to document Rayna and Deacon’s songwriting process, with the footage to be used to promote their album. Once more, Rayna and Deacon act like the guy with the camera is somehow there to ruin their lives; at one point, Rayna literally yells at him to get out of the kitchen like he’s a dog with a dead cockroach in its mouth.

    Too bad the filmmaker’s not there when Clay comes over, he and Maddie go upstairs and Daphne forgets to take a cake out of the oven: The burned pastry sets off the fire alarms, which causes the alarm system to call Rayna and Deke. They arrive to find fire trucks in their front yard and Maddie all, “What? It’s no big deal.” Clay also uses the awkward interaction to even more awkwardly tell Deacon what a fan he is. And poor little Daphne feels left out of the whole thing. Later, she laments that sometimes her folks don’t seem like they’re in love… while the filmmaker is shooting. When he presses, she clams up.

    Now it’s your turn. Do you think Scarlett let Damien off the hook too easily? There’s no way that footage of Daphne isn’t going to bite Rayna in the buns later on, right? Did you miss Juliette, Avery and Will? And wasn’t it fun to see Rayna and Deacon actually singing together again?

    ‘The Alienist’: Robert Wisdom & Q’orianka Kilcher Cast In TNT Drama Series

    (2/8/17) Robert Wisdom (The Wire) and Q’orianka Kilcher (The New World) have joined the cast of The Alienist, TNT’s drama series that premieres in late 2017. Based on Caleb Carr’s bestseller, the psychological thriller is set in 1896 New York. When a series of gruesome murders of boy prostitutes grips the city, newly appointed police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt calls upon criminal psychologist — aka alienist — Dr. Laszlo Kreizler (Daniel Brühl) and newspaper illustrator John Moore (Luke Evans) to conduct the investigation in secret. Dakota Fanning also stars.

    Wisdom will play Cyrus, Kreizler’s valet, a man with a dark past who the alienist has helped reform. Kilcher plays Mary, Kreizler’s mute maid with whom he shares a special unspoken connection. Jakob Verbruggen directs and exec produces along with Cary Fukunaga, Eric Roth, Hossein Amini and Anonymous Content’s Steve Golin and Rosalie Swedlin. The series is a co-production of Paramount Television and Turner’s Studio T. Production will begin in early 2017 in Budapest.

    Wisdom recently wrapped roles in features Beasts of Burden and Unfogettable and played a lead in Tribeca pic Live Cargo. His TV credits include Nashville, Prison Break and HBO’s Ballers and The Wire.

    Kilcher co-starred opposite Colin Farrell and Christian Bale in Terrence Malick’s The New World. She also played the title roles in Te Ata and Princess Kaiulani and recently wrapped Hostiles. Her TV work includes Sons of Anarchy, Longmire and The Killing.

    Connie Britton Is A Wanted Woman For Pilots; What Does It Mean For ‘Nashville’?

    (2/4/17) (Deadline) There have been a lot of rumors that Nashville star Connie Britton would be departing the country music drama, now in its fifth season and first on CMT. Speculation about Britton’s impending exit intensified in recent weeks as word spread that the Emmy-nominated actress would be available for pilots this season. She has emerged as one of the most sought-after female leads and already has been the subject of a lot of interest from the broadcast networks.

    I’m not going to drop any spoilers, and the network and producer Lionsgate TV are not commenting when or how Britton’s storyline would wrap. The Season 5 midseason finale of Nashville airs on March 23.

    Britton’s country star Rayna James has been dealing with an identity crisis and has been the target of a stalker this season.

    Rayna was one of the two central characters on Nashville, along with Hayden Panettiere’s Juliette, when the soapy music drama created by Callie Khouri launched on ABC. While the show evolved into an ensemble of country musicians at different stages of their careers, Rayna had remained its emotional center.

    After four seasons on ABC, Nashville surprisingly was canceled in May. Helped by the outpouring of fan support, the show was picked up by CMT, where it has set ratings records and has drawn praise for its creative direction under new showrunners Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick.

    Nashville Recap: Can I Get an Amen?

    (2/3/17) (TVline) The Nashville Personality Refinement Program continues its very welcome work in this week’s episode. The latest graduate: Luke “Watch Out, Cake!” Wheeler.

    Rayna’s former fiancé shows up in connection with yet another major business opportunity for which Zach so conveniently has the cash and interest. And while, yes, buying Wheelin’ Dealin’ Records and absorbing its artists and catalogue might be a good idea for the fledgling Highway 65, is climbing deeper and deeper into the very deep pockets of a very weird man really a good idea?

    Elsewhere in the hour, Rayna and Deacon get a better security system and Juliette gets religion. Read on for the highlights of “A Little Bit Stronger.”

    OOPS | An understandably unsettled Rayna and Deacon boost their home security, all the better to keep the guy with the letters — whose name is Carl Hockney, and who is the same guy who wanted a photo with Ray a few episodes back — away. They’ve got a restraining order, too; between the two measures, one of the burly security team dudes promises, “This man will not get to you.”

    However, the guy probably should’ve added, “But he might get to Daphne.” Because that’s exactly what happens while Rayna’s younger daughter is on her school’s grounds, ‘tween-flirting with a classmate named Flynn. Hockney is hauled away for violating the restraining order. Rayna and Deacon are shaken. But Daphne’s like, “Teen crush trumps all! Daph out!” and goes back to class like nothing happened.

    IT’S GETTING BETTER | Juliette’s physical therapy is clearly working, as evidenced by an in-home session with Allyson. Juliette’s overall mood is so much lighter and happier than we’ve seen in a while, and it’s a welcome change. She even giggles a little! Ju has made so much progress, in fact, that she ditches the wheelchair for crutches, an improvement Hallie notices when she comes over for a meal with the Barnes-Barkley family.

    We learn that Hallie is a social worker whose clients are “families in crisis.” Juliette wonders why the other woman hasn’t attempted a recording career, given her golden pipes. But Hallie says she’s using her gift her own way, and invites Ju down to the community center later that week to see what she means. She also mentions Juliette coming to church. “I just don’t want to be a distraction,” Ju demurs. (And somewhere, Juliette’s former mother-in-law sniffs, “Sure, now she doesn’t want to be a distraction in church?!”) (Side note: The shot of Cadence in this scene is totally gratuitous, but I LOVE IT.)

    GETTIN’ THE SPIRIT | So Juliette goes to Hallie’s church while Avery is playing his first gig in a while, and they both get something out of their respective experiences. Avery gets an offer from an agent, which appears to intrigue him. And Juliette just kinda feels better about life, breaking into a grin as she wholeheartedly joins in with “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” near the end of the service. (Side note: Ju,I don’t want to harsh your God buzz, but if you didn’t want to be a distraction, you could’ve shown up on time and sat near the back rather than walking down the entire aisle. Just sayin’.)

    After Juliette catches a rousing community-center performance for kids by Hallie’s group, the Nashville Chocolate Drops — a play on the real-life Carolina Chocolate Drops, which are fronted by Hallie’s portrayer, Rhiannon Giddens— she and Rayna have a cup of coffee. Wait a minute… are these two hanging out on the regular now? And if so, why is the whole hour not just them sipping, gossiping and being the girlfriends I want them to be?

    Anyway, Rayna floats the idea of Highway 65 buying Wheelin’ Dealin’, which would mean that Juliette would be a H65 artist once more. After they deal with the fact that Rayna’s no longer mad about Juliette’s massively public defection from the label not all that long ago, Juliette says she’s interested… and that she wants to make an album of gospel music and spirituals. You — and Juliette — can tell Rayna’s not jazzed about that, but Ju seems so happy and at peace with the world that even Big Red doesn’t put up much resistance.

    At home, Emily comes into the room with a grave face and a tablet in her hands: The tabloids are making fun of Juliette for going to church. Em is all, “I think you should see this.” Honey, there have been SO MANY WORSE stories about your boss in those rags. Breathe a minute.

    Naturally, the next time Juliette attends services, the paparazzi are waiting for her. But she just makes her way into the church with Avery at her side, sits down and feels good about herself for once. Hallelujah!

    HEARTBREAK IN HINDSIGHT | So now all that’s left for Rayna and Zach is to actually, um, ask Luke if he’s selling his record label and whether he’d consider selling to them. Evidence that this show has broken me this season: When the Highway 65 bosses catch up to Luke on tour, I really like “Wide Open,” the song he’s singing on stage. (And Will Chase is, as usual, pretty rad.)

    After the show, Luke admits that his heart isn’t in Wheelin’ Dealin’ since the whole IRS kerfuffle. Then he acknowledges that Rayna was right to call off their wedding, because they wouldn’t have been happy in the long run. “Now say that you’re sorry for all of your stupid big-game themed dressing-room décor!” I shout at my television, but to no avail. Ah well, two outta three ain’t bad. Luke adds that he trusts Rayna, and that he’d be happy to sell her his company.

    While all of that is happening, Zach wanders backstage and winds up in Will’s dressing room, where the tech geek seems very into watching Mr. Lexington change his sweaty shirt. To be honest, dude has an 86-pack going on under there, and I’m pretty sure a human of any sexuality would have at least a passing curiosity about the sheer beauty of such a thing. But yes, given that awkward conversation at last week’s video shoot and this scene, it appears that Zach is kinda into the cowboy. But why does he have to be so creepy about it?

    BUT WHERE’S TINO? | Maddie and Clay grow closer, but he pushes her away every once in a while, saying she’s scared of him and his situation. She vows that she’s not. Deacon and Rayna aren’t thrilled that he’s 24 and dating their 17-year-old daughter, but when Mads tries to accuse them of being racist, that nonsense gets shut down right quick. “Are you kiddin’ me right now?” Rayna says, her tone the verbal equivalent of taking off one’s earrings, and then delivers a great monologue about how times have changed in terms of loving who you want to love, but a 24-year-old with a 17-year-old is still kinda worrisome.

    Later, with Deacon, Maddie delivers some lines that could’ve come right out of Angela Chase’s mouth. “People are like worlds, like whole worlds inside,” she says, lamenting that “I honestly don’t know what to say to [Clay] right now.” And now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go call my mom and apologize for being exactly this dramatic about ridiculously unimportant things from ages 12-20.

    The point seems moot when Clay breaks up with Maddie via voicemail, but Mad isn’t having it. She tracks him down where he’s performing and reiterates that she wants to get to know the real him, and she wants him to know the real her. He kisses her. Looks like they’re back on!

    CHANGE OF ART | You’re dying to know how The Exes video came out, aren’t you? When Scarlett watches a rough cut with Damien, she’s suddenly crying and talking like Jodie Foster lamenting that her space program hadn’t sent a poet up in the orb in Contact. “So… beautiful…,” that kind of thing. “I’m not sure I know what’s happening,” Damien says, and I’m glad he says it before I do. Turns out, Scarlett feels like the verbally abusive director captured Scar’s true essence on film, and she’s shocked. “You showed me what I look like in my own mind,” she says reverently. Blech. I know what they’re going for here, but I wish that she’d seen the footage, thought it looked good but NOT let him off the hook for being such a mean-spirited jerkface to her throughout the shoot.

    Nashville Recap: Was That Guy Rayna's Stalker?


    Damien —

    Great to have you in Nashville this week, love your work, happy to see you directing Scarlett and Gunnar’s new video. One thing: Rayna and I were talking, and I just wanted to touch base about a couple of line items in this bill your people submitted to Highway 65 for The Exes music video.

    While I’m sure that “man-bun specialist” and “smeared lipstick remover” are perfectly respectful jobs, some of these peoples’ rates are a bit higher than what we’re comfortable with. This “wind stylist,” for instance. Yes, I know she’s good. I know she’s Beyoncé’s preferred fan-holder (if that other guy is already booked). I know you waxed poetic for 15 minutes at craft services about how she elevated Scarlett’s performance to a “crazy new level” by aiming a fan at her face for hours at a time. I’m just saying, $250 an hour?

    Speaking of Scarlett, she’s still rather unsettled by your pretty ridiculous — I mean, artistically constructive — comments about her clothes, looks, relationship and sexuality. She’s also not jazzed about crawling down a dinner table in a $4,000 dress that barely covered her… talents. What was going on there? And Gunnar’s not happy that you got him drunk and unearthed his relationship secrets, but I’ve been at a bar with that guy: Buy him a Bud Light and he’ll start spilling details after the second sip.

    Anyway, we’d appreciate it if your people could review the charges and see whether there is any way to reduce them; those handcuffs that held Gunnar to the bed, for instance, can probably be returned for a full refund to the Luv Boutique or wherever you got them. If you need any assistance, you can get in touch with our numbers guy.

    I’ve gotta go — there’s this whole other issue I’m handling with Rayna and some letters, and it’s becoming a thing.

    Looking forward to your reply,


    Read on as we recap the highlights of “Love Hurts.”

    WELL, NOT ALL OF ME | We open mid-shoot for The Exes’ “All of Me” video, which is taking place in historic Riverwood Mansion. Scarlett comes out in a really gorgeous white dress that looks like a nightgown — but the director, Damien, wants a lower neckline. He also seems to want to know how Scarlett’s collarbones feel, given the way he’s suddenly got his hands on her.

    Gunnar, in case you were wondering, is wearing a tuxedo, guyliner and all of the hair goop in Davidson County. Pretty soon, the pair is enveloped in Damien’s vision for the song, which seems like The Great Gatsby meets Mad Love. During taping, Scarlett crawls down a fully set dinner table like a housecat on Thanksgiving evening. Scarlett hurls glassware at Gunnar’s greased head. (Guys, I can’t get over Gunnar’s look for this video. It makes me giddy.) Eventually, Scarlett gets so mad, she “acts” slapping Gunnar in the face… by actually slapping Gunnar in the face.

    After they wrap for the day, Gunnar agrees to go out for a drink with Damien, “as long as it’s cool with Scarlett?” he asks, shooting a look at her. Duuuude, you should know the answer to this one by now! She basically tells him to do whatever he wants (which of course means the exact opposite), and he takes off to drunkenly tell Damien all about their on-again, off-again romance. “She never thinks about herself,” Gunny says. “And that gives you license to be selfish?” Damien prods. “Sometimes,” Gunnar admits.

    TRUST THE PROCESS? | The following day’s shoot goes even worse, starting when Scarlett flits around a ballroom dancing scene. Damien calls “Cut!,” and I desperately hope it’s because he’s going to lob a man-bun off one of the extras, but nope. She says she can’t move the way that he wants her to. He advises her, a little roughly, to own her sensual side. And while I do think Scarlett is being a little hide-under-the-piano about all of this, I love when she shoots back, “You’re not a shrink. You’re just some dude with screwed-up views about women all being secret sexpots and it’s your spiritual journey to awaken all of us.”

    Things get uglier — when Scarlett refuses to shoot any more, Damien has his camera guy destroy the footage they’ve already got — and then she stomps off, with Gunnar in tow. “Maybe it’s OK to push the envelope,” Gunny says gently. “There’s no harm in cutting loose.” GUYS, GUNNAR AND I AGREE ON SOMETHING. I HAVE TO GO LAY DOWN. But he affirms that he’ll walk away from the shoot if she does… though I think Rayna might have something to $ay about that?

    Scarlett eventually goes back to the shoot, after Damien promises “there’s a method to my madness.” Rayna and Zach show up to watch, but when Rayna notes that Scarlett isn’t having a good time, Zach dismisses her concerns and tells her to trust the process. Hmm, might this be a taste of their working relationship moving forward?

    When Gunnar and Scarlett get to the video’s sex scene — which features Gunnar chained to a bed — Scar balks at the scene. Then Damien starts yelling at her about why she’s not famous and how she still folds Gunnar’s socks, even though he’s screwed around with half of Music City, and she gets super worked up — apparently, that was Damien’s plan the whole time. The cameras roll and Scarlett unleashes her newly found she-beast, which looks a lot like fogging up a mirror with her breath and doing perfume-ad poses. Whatever floats yer boat, honey.

    The video shoot ends. Damien says Scarlett will thank him when she sees the finished product. At home, Scarlett says she doesn’t want Gunnar to tell randos about their romantic history, because she doesn’t want people to think she’s weak for taking him back.

    CLAY’S SECRET | Maddie’s flirtation with Clay continues, and he seems like her back. He takes her to a little club where he’s called up on stage and performs a song called “Before You” that he essentially sings right to Maddie, and her face all but turns into the heart-eyes emoji.

    But every time she kisses him, he pulls away, citing the difference in their ages and in the colors of their skin. “People do it everyday,” she says, referring to interracial dating, and with the naivete only a white teen girl can bring to this particular party, she adds, “It’s not that hard.” He immediately calls her on that, saying, “You grew up in your big house, and you’re gonna tell me how the world works?”

    Maddie seeks out Juliette’s advice, and she gets some wise counsel from the Queen of Bad Decisions herself: “Screwed-up men are sexy, don’t ask me why, until they’re not.” PREACH. Meanwhile, two jerks pick a fight with Clay, who’s performing on the street, and they beat the bejesus out of him. Maddie eventually goes to his place, where he collapses. She waits for him in the emergency room, only to have him be standoffish upon being released from the hospital.

    Later, Maddie correctly surmises that her new guy is bipolar. Clay confirms, then adds that he doesn’t take his meds, because he can’t write music while he’s on them. She’s undaunted by this new information, God bless her and her passionate, stupid adolescent self. But Clay says there’s no future for them.

    The next morning, no sooner has Maddie filled her parents in on her brief romance than there’s a visitor at the door: It’s Clay, in a sportscoat (aww), there to introduce himself to her parents and do things properly. Maddie is overjoyed, and Rayna and Deacon look impressed.

    IS THIS THE GUY? | When Rayna realizes that her little box is missing from her desk, she and Bucky find it among Randall’s things. He immediately confesses, crying to Rayna that he only took the memento because he wanted his mom to think that he and Ray were pals. He’s very pathetic, but he’s not her stalker: When Bucky asks him to write some sentences on a pad, the handwriting doesn’t match the letters — now there are four or five of them — that Rayna’s received.

    But the mystery seemingly ends in the episode’s final moments, when a loud and kinda unhinged-sounding guy shows up at Highway 65, brandishing more letters for Big Red and shouting that he was afraid she hadn’t gotten his other ones. Just before we cut to credits, a freaked-out Rayna yells for someone to call the cops.

    Nashville Ratings Up

    (1/25/17) Nashville continues to sing for CMT, where for a second straight week it rose in the demo — from a 0.92 to 0.95 — while maintaining a steady 2.1 million total viewers. (Season 5 of the ABC castoff premiered on CMT to a 0.8 rating.)

    Sundance: Watch ‘Nashville’s Connie Britton & Aisha Tyler Administer Oath At Women’s March

    (1/21/17) Sundance: Watch ‘Nashville’s Connie Britton & Aisha Tyler Administer Oath At Women’s March: Video.

    Oliver Hudson Pokes Fun at Those Brad Pitt and Kate Hudson Romance Rumors

    (1/20/17) Don't believe everything you read at the grocery store.

    It's not a shock when some tabloids try to grab shoppers' attention with their splashy headlines. But it is surprising when a Hollywood star decides to address them.

    On Friday night, Oliver Hudson came across a Star magazine cover that claimed Brad Pitt was moving into Kate Hudson's house.

    What came next was a sarcastic post that suggests the rumors are just that, rumors.

    "Yeah and it's been hell!! He's messy as s--t! He drinks out of the f--king carton and leaves the door open when he's taking a dump!! And this is when he's at MY house!!!" Oliver wrote to his followers. "He's already calling me brother and has driven a wedge between myself and my real brother Wyatt who now won't speak to me.. he insists my kids call him uncle B and lost my youngest at the Santa Monica pier for 2 days.. thank God for Amber Alert.."

    He added, "My mom's overtly flirting with him! She's wearing these little nighties around the house now?! But ALL DAY!! Like at 3pm! And Pa just keeps saying ‘All right!! It's Brad Pitt!!'"

    Tabloids have been speculating about Kate and Brad's relationship status for several weeks. While the pair hasn't been photographed, it hasn't stopped paparazzi from asking family members about the rumors.

    Recently, Goldie Hawn was asked if she's thrilled that her daughter is dating Brad. She simply laughed it off when leaving the Brentwood Country Mart.

    As for Oliver, he's taking another route thanks to social media. And his famous friends including stylist Jamie Mizrahi are calling it "genius."

    "Anyway not going well.. so BP.. it's time to move out man.. I need my life back dog.. I'll smoke one more bowl and then get the f--k out.. we thank you..," he wrote. "Oh and I found your medical bracelet so I'll get that back to you.. ok.."

    Nashville Recap: Too Much, Not Enough

    (1/19/17) ( First, Nashville‘s new showrunners brought Rayna and Deacon’s sexy back. Then they made Maddie palatable and maybe even a little likable again. In this week’s episode, they complete the hat trick by executing an admirable repair job on the beat-up ‘ship known as the Barnes-Barkley romance.

    Yep, it looks like “Javery” is back in business, if the bow-chicka-wow-wow that starts at the end of “Leap of Faith” is any indication.

    Elsewhere in the hour, Will’s shadiness eventually leads to his breakup with Kevin, and Rayna makes either an excellent or really terrible decision regarding Highway 65. Oh, and did I mention that Ray’s stalker is now creeping around her private property? Because that happens, too.

    Read on for the highlights of this week’s episode.

    TOO SOON? | We enter the hour during Juliette’s in-home physical therapy session, where she’s eager to do more advanced exercises with her slowly improving legs. Her impatience leads her to ask her therapist, Allyson, if she can use some fancy walking-assistance contraption at the clinic. Allyson gently points out that Juliette isn’t quite at the point where that device is useful and/or necessary, but you know how our girl gets when she fixes an idea in her head.

    So Ju goes over Allyson’s head and calls the director of the clinic, who approves the use of the walking-assistance device in Juliette’s care plan. Meanwhile, Juliette decides to stop taking her pain medication — even though her medical team says that doing so will help her withstand the discomfort of therapy — and cancels her psych appointments.

    To make things worse, once Juliette gets strapped into the special PT apparatus, she has a giant flashback/panic attack about the plane crash and nearly hyperventilates in terror. Allyson gets her out and talks her down, vaguely referring to a traumatic event in her own past, but Juliette is still determined to supercharge her recovery.

    The good news: She’s progressed so far that she can pick her foot up off the ground. The bad news: It hurts her a lot, and when she later falls in the bathroom and then angrily rebuffs Avery’s attempts to help her, that hurts him a lot. He realizes that she hasn’t been taking her pills; her explanation that she doesn’t want to chance getting addicted again makes sense, but he’s too angry to give her an inch. He calls her a pain in the tush, adding, “It has nothing to do with you being hurt, because you’ve been like this since the day I met you!”

    DIVINE INTERVENTION | Ju winds up at Hallie’s church, asking the pastor how she should pray. He tells her it’s simply a conversation, and when he leaves her alone in the sanctuary, she looks skyward and wonders why she survived the crash when no one else did. “I’m lost,” she says, starting to cry. “Help me, please?”

    When Avery comes home later that night, they both apologize for the argument earlier. “I don’t want to need you, but I do. I always have,” she says, and it’s not long before she’s pulling him over her on the couch and reaching for his belt buckle. But at the last minute, he pulls back. “You need time,” she surmises. “Yeah,” he says, looking out of sorts.

    But it’s really not long before Avery approaches her again, picks her up and deposits her on the bed, where he starts climbing her body like it’s Everest — y’know, breathless and marveling at being in the presence of such majesty? So, Avery, just to be clear: That “time” you needed was the amount of time it takes to poach an egg? Cool. Cool.

    BUT DON’T PENGUINS MATE FOR LIFE? | Kevin is super into a gorgeous apartment, but Will drags his heels about going to see it… or doing anything, really, that will hasten his and Kevin’s cohabitation. When Will finally checks out the flat, the realtor hits on him, and young Lexington is so freaked out — not by the overture, but by the temptation he experiences — that he lies to his boyfriend about turning in the application for the property.

    And when Kevin realizes what’s happened, it’s the very sad beginning of the very sad end for the two. There are lots of tears. Kevin dumps Will’s stuff on the front porch. Will cries backstage before his gig. And when he takes the stage, he stops the band from playing the rockin’ opening number so he can instead sing a beautiful, quiet, mournful ballad he wrote with “my first love.” Aw, penguin!

    NEW DEAL, NEW THREAT? | At Highway 65, Rayna and Bucky are mid-lament that they can’t afford a kickass director for The Exes’ next video when Rayna stops her digital marketing dude Randall to tell him how much she likes some work he’s done on Scarlett and Gunnar’s site. Randall almost pees himself in pleasure and scurries away. Bucky calls the guy “eager to please.” Bucky is maybe not the best judge of character and/or sanity?

    Anyway, tech zillionaire and Rayna superfan Zach comes to town, and Rayna and Deacon bring him to The Bluebird to hear The Exes play. He has a blast; the next day, he pitches Rayna a deal. He wants to invest in Highway 65 but allow her to retain complete control. It sounds too good to be true, but Ray’s lawyer says there aren’t any dangerous loopholes: “There’s no such thing as free money,” the attorney advises, “but this is about as close as it gets.”

    And as suspicious as I am of Zach’s offer, I welcome it with open arms and a song in my heart if it gives us scenes like the glorious everyday exchange Rayna and Deacon have as they’re getting ready for bed. She’s wearing a Sun Records T-shirt and slathering lotion on her legs. He’s hanging up his pants and padding around in bare feet and boxer shorts. They’re talking about the pros and cons of going into business with the app entrepreneur, and they are so comfortably normal and drama-free in the scene that I want to kiss both of their beautiful faces.

    Long story short: Rayna agrees to Zach’s offer. And even before that, he hooks her up with a feature film director to handle The Exes’ vid. Yay, right? But then Rayna gets a manila envelope full of rose petals and crazy, and she, Deacon and Bucky realize that some trespassing, obsessed fan must’ve hand-delivered it to the house. “Been a while since we got one of these,” Bucky says when he sees it. “Remember that woman who sent you her socks?” (Heh. No, but seriously, WHO IS DOING THIS?)

    Sundance Women’s March: Connie Britton, Aisha Tyler & Maria Bello Among Speakers

    (1/18/17) More details are emerging for the Chelsea Handler-organized Women’s March on Main, an event Saturday in Park City during the Sundance Film Festival coinciding with post-inauguration marches being held nationwide including the March on Washington.

    On the list of speakers for the event, which will start at 9 AM local time at 220 Main St.: Aisha Tyler, Connie Britton, Mary McCormack, Dolores Huerta, Peter Bratt, Benjamin Bratt, Laurie David, Jessica Williams, Maria Bello and local officials including Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski. Handler is an organizing committee member.

    The event is not affiliated with the festival.

    Handler announced plans for the march earlier this month. The march is set for two hours, usually before Park City really begins stirring during the festival. But just in case, the city has set up a text-messaging system for updates on transit, traffic and road closures.

    Callie Khouri Talks Women In TV Vs Film, ‘Nashville’ & ‘Deep City’ Project – NATPE

    (1/18/17) Thelma & Louise Oscar-winner and Nashville creator Callie Khouri says there’s a “strange thing” about female-centric projects where “somehow in the culture, they’re not as good. It’s like, this is for women so it’s not a real thing… I’ve never been at peace with that.” But, she told a NATPE audience in Miami today, “One of the things that’s happening” in television is that “this is a place where you can have a voice and tell a story.” What about features? “Forget it,” she said. Apart from indies, “There’s nothing to do there.”

    Khouri’s currently got the 5th season of Nashville airing on CMT and her next story will also be for television. She’ll exec produce Deep City, a Miami-set, music-themed ensemble drama series which is currently in development with Studiocanal’s Tandem Productions. Khouri’s husband and veteran music producer T Bone Burnett is also exec producing.

    The series is created by Juan Carlos Coto (From Dusk Till Dawn) and is described as a saga about a cross-section of performers, musicians and criminals — and the collision of lives at a crossroads in a city where people go to find themselves, reinvent themselves, or escape.

    Khouri said after being approached about the project she and Burnett spent four days in Miami, really digging into the emerging scene. “We were all over this town and I just went, ‘Oh my God, you could never stop telling stories about this town.’” She added that Burnett calls it “the most profound of all border towns. People have risked their lives to get here. It’s such a crossroads with people coming here to make real whatever their version of the American dream is. After a day-and-a-half, I was like, ‘This is on, we’re doing this.’”

    But, they couldn’t do it alone which is why Coto, a University of Miami graduate and former Miami Herald staffer, is integral to the project. Said Khouri, “One of the reasons I can do Nashville is because I’m from there and because of T Bone too, I got to live in the music world and have an insider’s knowledge of that town. I don’t have that in this town so we needed somebody who does. I know what I do well and I know that authenticity has been a big part of the success of Nashville and I would not want anything less for this.”

    CMT Speaking of the transition for Nashville, which was cancelled by ABC last May and swiftly picked up by CMT, Khouri said, “That was a roller coaster.” The series began airing on its new network in December and is its highest-rated program. “It was perfect timing,” Khouri said of the switch, “It’s a really good fit.” With Marshall Herskovitz as the new showrunner and with new writers, “It’s really fun. It’s a whole new way of looking at the show.”

    Turning back to the subject of women in the entertainment business. Khouri pointed to folks like Shonda Rhimes, Tinay Fey and Amy Poehler. “There are a lot of women that have become very successful who keep a lot of balls in the air. If you’re a man doing that nobody thinks anything of it.”

    “I think it is harder for women,” Khouri said. “I don’t know why. We live in a world that is not that high on women. If you look around, it’s undeniable. In America we probably have got it better than any other place. Thinking about it though is self-defeating and you can’t really pay attention to it so I just stay focused on the work and believe in it.”

    While Khouri is known for projects which prominently feature women, she says it hasn’t always been a conscious decision to go in that direction. “I think about it because it’s in the culture. But when I’m by myself and thinking about a character, I’m not thinking, ‘OK, I need a woman.’ I didn’t decide to create two women at the center of Nashville. They were the characters that showed up when I started wanting to do a show about Nashville.”

    She allowed that when she wrote 1991’s Thelma & Louise — which in 2016 was added to the National Film Registry — she thought women needed “a movie they could go see where they didn’t need someone to cover them on the way to the car… or any number of the experiences women have had.”

    Today, for women in features, Khouri said, “Forget it. There’s nothing to do there.” Television, “is a world in which you have a lot more freedom in terms of telling stories with women at the center because women are the audience and with features films (studios aren’t) really going for us, in most cases they’re not even going for adults.”

    However, there are “great female characters in indie films.” Pointing to recent hit Hidden Figures, she said its box office success is “a giant step.” But, “It’s one of those things where every success is an anomaly… It would be great if no one noticed that anymore. If one day we don’t make a big deal of it anymore, that will be a good day.”

    ‘Beatriz At Dinner’ Clip: Salma Hayek & Connie Britton’s Sundance Movie Offers Food For Thought

    (1/17/17) (Video) With the 2017 Sundance Film Festival kicking off Thursday, here’s the first clip to bow for Beatriz At Dinner, the Miguel Arteta-directed drama penned by Mike White. The pic has its world premiere in the Premieres section of the fest and its first public screening is January 23 at Park City’s Eccles Theatre.

    To match the writer-director cred, the cast is loaded too: Salma Hayek, John Lithgow, Chloe Sevigny, Connie Britton, Amy Landecker, David Warshofsky and Jay Duplass star. Hayek plays a holistic therapist who, after treating the mother of a young woman she helped recover from chemotherapy, is invited to stay for a dinner celebrating a lucrative business deal scored by Doug (Lithgow). Things devolve, though, and the guests are eventually pitted into opposing forces between the two.

    The movie is a Bron Studios/Killer Films production in association with Creative Wealth Media, and Aaron L. Gilbert, Pamela Koffler, David Hinojosa and Christine Vachon are producers.

    Check out the clip above.

    ‘Nashville’ Sets Another Ratings Record For CMT

    (1/17/17) Nashville continues to do good things for CMT. Coming on the heels of last week’s record-setting debut, its January 12 episode drew 2.1 million viewers, making it the network’s most-watched original series telecast ever.

    The most recent episode earned a .92 rating with adults 18-49, up 14% from last week’s premiere. It ranks as the high-rated original series telecast in CMT history among women 18-49 (1.28), adults 25-54 (1.15) and women 25-54 (1.64). It also ranked as the highest-rated show on cable for the night among women 25-54 and was top three with women 18-49, according to the network and Nielsen. In its second week, #NashChat Facebook Live reached nearly 1 million fans.

    Nashville stars Connie Britton as Rayna Jaymes, Hayden Panettiere as Juliette Barnes, Clare Bowen as Scarlett O’Connor, Chris Carmack as Will Lexington, Charles Esten as Deacon Claybourne, Jonathan Jackson as Avery Barkley, Sam Palladio as Gunnar Scott, Maisy Stella as Daphne Conrad and Lennon Stella as Maddie Conrad. The series is produced by Lionsgate, ABC Studios and Opry Entertainment.

    Callie Khouri, T Bone Burnett Team On Tandem’s ‘Deep City’ Miami Music Drama

    (1/17/17) Studiocanal’s Tandem Productions is partnering with Oscar-winners Callie Khouri and T Bone Burnett on Deep City, a Miami-set drama created by From Dusk Till Dawn‘s Juan Carlos Coto. Development is currently underway on the music-driven ensemble series that’s set against the nightlife of Miami’s Midtown and emerging downtown core. Miami expert Coto, whose credits also include Nikita and 24, is writing and will showrun the series. He executive produces with Khouri, Burnett, and Tandem’s Tim Halkin and Rola Bauer.

    The project is described as a saga about a cross-section of performers, musicians and criminals — and the collision of lives at a crossroads — in a city where people go to find themselves, reinvent themselves, or escape. It’s about personal and shared dreams which come in different shapes and colors, but have one thing in common: they’re big.

    Deep City has a strong musical pedigree with Academy Award-winning Thelma & Louise scripter Khouri, who is married to Burnett, also having created ABC’s Nashville. Iconic and prolific music producer Burnett won his Oscar for Crazy Heart. Universal Music Group, which is owned by Studiocanal parent Vivendi, is also aboard as a partner.

    Khouri says, “The most important issues today are around race and immigration, globalism vs. tribalism. If you had to locate the intersection of those four points on a map, you would be in Miami. Then add music, dance and the city where people come to remake their lives into their version of the American dream, that’s our show.”

    For Burnett, “I love digging into the rich history of Miami music, with its mix of Rhythm and Blues, Afro-Caribbean and South American vibes. I love the sound of the place and the colors of the place. It is a world intersection. A profound border town.”

    “When people think of Miami, they’re often thinking Miami Beach,” says Coto, a University of Miami graduate and former Miami Herald staffer. “That’s all good, but we want to explore the other narratives this city has to offer. The way Midtown’s exploded in the last decade — music, art, food, everything — it’s a whole new way for Miami to tell it’s story all over again. This is a city that is constantly reinventing itself… Put simply, this is a show about the new American dream and it’s a dream project for me. I’ve been writing and producing TV for more than twenty years, and every chance I get, I look to create a show in Miami.”

    Bauer chimes in that Miami was a great inspiration for Deep City. “This new generation has put down roots amid a continually exploding cross section of cultures — American, European, Asian, Russian and of course Latin American. The city politically and socially embodies what is happening in the world around us. Our talented partners were also inspired: from the prolific T Bone, Callie’s strong female voice and Juan Carlos’ vision of Miami, together with Studiocanal’s full studio backing and UMG’s support, we are sure to make Deep City an addictive series that will have huge appeal on the global stage.”

    Tandem’s other recent series include Crossing Lines and Spotless. Studiocanal will distribute Deep City internationally.

    The Lifetime movie starring Viola Davis and Hayden Panettiere

    (1/14/17) The Lifetime movie Custody, starring Viola Davis (How to Get Away With Murder) and Hayden Panettiere (Nashville), will air Saturday, March 4 at 8/7c. The film centers around three women brought together when a single mother has her children taken from her. Additionally, the new drama series Mary Kills People, featuring Hannibal‘s Caroline Dhavernas as a doctor who helps others end their lives with dignity, will debut Sunday, April 23 at 10 pm.

    Nashville Recap: Has Maddie Finally Turned the Corner?

    (1/13/17) ( This week’s Nashville achieves a feat I once thought was unattainable. I hesitate to put this all down in writing, for fear that I’ll have to eat my words next week, but here goes: For a few minutes at the end of this week’s episode, I did not loathe Maddie.

    Yes, I’m aware that Marshall Herskovitz promised that he and fellow showrunner Ed Zwick had a “course correction” in the works, one that would make Deacon and Rayna’s daughter more palatable to an audience grown tired of her teenage temper tantrums and bratty outbursts. But with so many eye-rolls and so much Daphne-bashing — not to mention that whole emancipated minor ridiculousness — under Mads’ belt, it seemed like Lennon Stella was never again going to get to play the budding songstress the way we’d come to know her: complicated and somewhat trying in the way that teenage girls are, yes, but generally a good kid.

    This week’s episode offers quite a bit of hope, in the form of Maddie cranking out a few big apologies (including one that’s very overdue), flirting with a new boy and starting an age-appropriate job in the field she loves.

    It’s a start, people.

    Meanwhile, Juliette oversteps, a YouTube sensation blows into town and a creepy character gets creepier (yet I’m still not convinced he’s The Stalker). Read on for the highlights of “Let’s Put It Back Together Again.”

    MADDIE’S FIRST DAY | Avery walks in on Juliette listening to demos, which seems promising, but her heart’s not in it. “To sell this song,” she says of the upbeat number playing on the computer in front of her, “you’d have to do it in a miniskirt and six-inch stilettos.” But Avery is undeterred. “I think you’re amazing,” he says, getting ready to leave for the recording studio where the aforementioned social media star Ashley Willerman is laying down tracks for her first album. Deacon will be there, as will Maddie, who’s starting an internship at the studio. “Really? Deacon and Rayna think they can slow her roll?” Ju says knowingly. (Heh.)

    At the studio, Maddie’s getting briefed on receptionist’s desk protocol when Ashley and her entourage roll in; Maddie recognizes her as the person “who makes all of those stupid YouTube videos,” and she is unimpressed. During a coffee run for Ashley and her crew, Maddie notices a young guy playing guitar at an outside market; she’s so distracted by him that she drops one of her cups, and he quickly stops performing to come to her aid.

    They chat a little and she tells him her name, which proves helpful when she leaves her lyrics journal behind at the coffee shop and he brings it to her at work. Later, we learn that he was raised by his grandparents, his mom was in and out of drug-treatment facilities until she died, and he really digs Maddie. Even at this early stage, the two of them are kinda cute.

    BARKLEY, OUT! | Things inside the recording booth are… less cute. Avery’s soul is dying a little more with every note Ashley sings, thanks to the weird, Britney Spears-ish vocal affect she insists on using. “What’s that thing she’s doin’ with her voice?” asks Deacon, who still manages to give the entire situation the side-eye even though he’s sporting his Sexy Dad reading glasses. “It sounds like she’s choking.”

    Avery confronts his artist about her silly singing style. “Oh, that’s called emotion,” she shoots back, making it clear that his opinion is not desired. They got back and forth a bit more, Ashley demands a vegan meal, and then Avery gives it another disastrous shot while Maddie’s out getting lunch. “You’re scared that people won’t like your voice or you as you are,” he (probably correctly) surmises, telling Ashley that a stripped-down sound would better show off her legitimate talent. “I’m an influencer. Are you an influencer?” she spits back. Oh good GOD. Is it any wonder that Avery quits before much headway is made on the album?

    ANGELS AMONG US? | Meanwhile, Juliette finally meets Hallie, her “angel” from the night of the crash. Hallie is very sweet and seems very comfortable around Juliette; they make loose plans to see each other again before Hallie jumps into her busted-up old car and has to go. That gives Ju an idea: She buys her new friend a new car and has it waiting for her at church… but Hallie is extremely “uncomfortable” with the gift and says she can’t accept it. “I have a bunch of foster kids waiting on me,” Hallie adds, by way of explanation of why she has to go, and I’m starting to wonder if Hallie is an ACTUAL angel. How good can one person be? Plus, Herskovitz and Zwick have done it before!

    At home, Juliette feels stupid for being so presumptuous, and that soon spirals into her sobbing to Avery, “I should have died in that plane crash. We both know that. You’d be better off. I’d be better off. It’s the truth.” They’re still arguing when she goes into the nursery to change Cadence, who pees on Ju’s lap — and she feels it! Soon Avery and Ju are crying happy tears while Cadence thinks, “If this makes them that happy, wait ’til they see what I do after Baby Burrito Night.”

    Later, Juliette finds her way back to Hallie’s to report on the new sensations in her legs. But soon she’s crying again because she’s afraid. “That it’ll go away again?” Hallie wonders. “That it should,” Juliette sniffles.

    Buoyed by Hallie’s certainty that she survived because her life has greater purpose, and considering Avery’s declaration that he wants to know what they are to each other, Juliette pulls up to a keyboard and writes and sings a new song that’s very lovely, indeed. Baby steps?

    MAKING AMENDS | Speaking of babies, Maddie and Ashley get into it on Day 2 when Ashley vehemently rejects the coffee Mads fetches. The verbal altercation ends soon after young Miss Claybourne calls the visiting artist “a total bitch” — to Deacon’s absolute horror — and then gets herself fired. “She’s a damn intern. She can’t be doing that,” Deke reports to Rayna via phone call, but admits he’s scared to confront her about her behavior after all the garbage she said on the witness stand during her emancipated minor hearing.

    So he does, and it doesn’t go great. Then Rayna strongly suggests that Mads make things right with her dad, because it’s been too long that she’s gone without saying she’s sorry for taking a wrecking ball to his heart. So Maddie creeps into Daphne’s room and asks her sister, “Can I ask you something? Am I turning into a bitch?” While I am guffawing at Mads’ delayed self-awareness, Daphne takes the high road and answers, “A little.”

    Maddie finally finds Deacon in the home studio and does what she should have done a season ago: apologize. “So, at the trial, I never believed those things I said, but I said them anyway, because I really felt trapped and I felt like that was my only way out,” she explains. He’s very gracious, calling himself a “hothead” and saying, “I should’ve been a better dad.” She’s very broken up about the whole thing as she says, “You’re my dad, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.” He hugs her. They’re both a little emotionally bruised. And Stella and Charles Esten are really good in this scene.

    Maddie goes back to the studio the next day, apologizes to Ashley, and a fist-bump makes everything copacetic.

    CREEPSTERS | Quick, let’s play: Who’s Rayna’s Stalker? Is it the guy who gets uncomfortably close to Rayna while taking a photo outside of Highway 65? Is it Randall, the digital marketing guy who brings Rayna juice during a meeting and later steals one of her personal effects from her office? Is it someone else altogether?

    'Nashville' Star Charles 'Deacon' Esten on the Upside of the Show Getting Axed By ABC

    (1/12/17) In Nashville‘s recently launched Season 5, Rayna and Deacon are snugglier than they’ve been in seasons. More comfortable with each other. And are they rapidly approaching “Rayna, I’m done talkin‘!” levels of sexy, or what?

    Series star Charles Esten has a good explanation for why Deacon Claybourne and his missus are experiencing a romantic renaissance in the wake of a very tough year.

    “I think they’re in a safe spot,” he tells TVLine. Until now, “there was always something that had one of them slightly off keel and off base,” which doesn’t lead to much canoodling.

    Esten refers, of course, to the parade of hell that marched through the couple’s life in the past few seasons: Deacon’s life-threatening illness, his sister’s death, Rayna’s struggles to start and keep a record label, Deacon’s impulsive purchase of a bar and Maddie’s bid to become an emancipated minor when her folks wouldn’t let her sign a record deal.

    But with the start of the country-music series’ fifth season — under the direction of showrunners Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick — Rayna and Deacon now have a little breathing, er, cuddling room.

    “Now, it’s the day-to-day,” Esten continues. “That’s how I am with my wife, honestly. If she’s doing dishes, I just come up behind her and put my hand on her shoulder and gave her a quick kiss or something like that. Yes, we have things to deal with, but none of them are existential. Deacon and Rayna have always had existential crises of ‘Will they or won’t they survive this?’ It’s only when you get through it that you see both of us relax.”

    He draws another parallel between his real-life relationship and his on-screen one, recalling a disagreement he and wife Patty had in the early years of their marriage.

    “I don’t remember the exact details, but I remember it occurring to me that, ‘Oh, I get it! No matter what happens in this fight, we’re still married and we still go to sleep tonight, and tomorrow we wake up and this bill needs to be paid and that. When you get that, it’s sort of like, ‘This is still interesting, it’s still dramatic, but it lets you relax into it a little bit.”

    While he refrained from saying much about upcoming storylines for fear of giving anything away, Esten did indicate that he’d enjoy sharing more screentime with Hayden Panettiere’s Juliette — “not that it would ever be the way it was between the two of them” in Season 1, when they slept together, “but I love that other place we got to,” he says. “In a lot of ways, Avery supplanted that need. And he’s [now] her rational voice that Deacon used to be.

    “And when Deacon’s your rational voice…” he trails off, laughing. Y’all know the rest.

    Nashville airs Thursday at 9/8c on CMT.

    'Nashville' Star Charles 'Deacon' Esten on the Upside of the Show Getting Axed By ABC

    (1/11/17) ( Nashville was canceled after four seasons on ABC — and picked up a month later by CMT. Actor Charles Esten (aka the troubled, lovable guitarist Deacon) discusses the new season, which launched Jan. 5.

    How’s the move to CMT?

    We’ve always strived for authenticity ... and now on CMT we can tell the stories with fewer showy story points and let things breathe -- like a country song.

    Living in Nashville, have you met anyone who reminds you of Deacon?

    Artists and songwriters have difficulties. There’s a lot of pain that is drawn upon to create beauty, and Deacon is the patron saint of that. (Laughs.) He has been through so much it has almost broken him completely, but it means he has some things to say behind a guitar or sitting at a notepad. I’ve run into that again and again.

    What is the show’s truest aspect?

    The way it can just happen in this town, where suddenly things take off. I’ve seen it myself -- one of the first times I was at the Bluebird [Cafe], Shane McAnally, Luke Laird and Kacey Musgraves were playing songs from this album they were working on, Same Trailer Different Park.

    What is the process of recording songs for the show?

    It’s a little different than just cutting a song, because you’re in character while you’re singing -- that’s Deacon singing that song. On top of that, it’s Deacon singing that song in a particular moment in time with very particular people. You have to bring all that with you to the studio.

    Nashville most-watched original telecast in CMT history

    (1/10/17) With Live+3 DVR playback factored in, Nashville‘s Season 5 premiere last Thursday drew 2 million viewers, making it the most-watched original telecast in CMT history.

    ‘Nashville’ Season 5 Premiere Lifts CMT Ratings

    (1/6/17) CMT saw a ratings pop for the premiere of its high-profile acquisition, country drama series Nashville. The Season 5 premiere Thursday night drew more than 1.2 million Live+same day viewers on CMT, the network’s most watched original premiere since 2012. The debut notched a .45 (A18-49), up nearly 300% from CMT’s primetime average.

    Across three airings — two on CMT and an encore on sibling nick@nite, the fifth season opner averaged nearly two million viewers and a .77 rating in adults 18-49. That was off by 20% from the show’s Live+same day average for its fourth season on ABC and by a tenth from the drama’s Season 4 finale.

    Nashville always has been a heavily time-shifted viewing series, so Live+same day numbers provide just a snapshot of its performance. However, evaluating Nashville’s full viewership may not be straight-forward. As part of the deal with Hulu, which is a partner on the series, Nashville is getting a next-day play on the streaming service. It is unclear whether its Live+3 ratings will include streaming data from Hulu or just DVR viewing on CMT.

    On social, Nashville, which had a sneak on CMT in December, ranked as No. 1 on Nielsen Social Content ratings series & specials for the night, according to CMT. Its social aftershow Nashchat reached one million fans via a Facebook Live chat on CMT’s Facebook page.

    Nashville Recap: Juliette Turns to an Unlikely Source for Help

    (1/6/17) (TVGuide) Will Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) find God in Season 5 of Nashville?

    It sure looks that way after the two-hour fifth-season premiere, which sees Juliette obsessively trying to track down the "angel" who rescued her after the plane crash in which the country diva was the only survivor.

    Turns out the girl with the angelic voice is Hannah Lee, aka "Hallie" (Rhiannon Giddens), who sings in the choir at her local church but hasn't come forward as Juliette's savior because she has no desire to be in the spotlight. Juliette leaves her contact information with the church leader in the hopes that Hallie will contact her. (And judging by the fact that Giddens has joined the Nashville cast, it's a safe bet that she will.)

    The discovery couldn't come soon enough for Juliette, who's having a tough time dealing with her recovery, to put it mildly. Feeling useless around her daughter Candice and taking her frustrations out on Avery (Jonathan Jackson) - who is, per usual, the best - Juliette is truly at a loss, and has no idea if she'll ever walk again, let alone perform on stage.

    But Juliette's not the only one reeling from the crash. Her musical counterpart's near-death experience, coupled with a less-than-inspiring performance at a Silicon Valley fundraiser, sends Rayna (Connie Britton) on a journey of self-discovery, one that causes her to get back in touch with her musical roots thanks to a blind stranger's rendition of "Wayfaring Stranger" and ends with her realizing that the best way to reinvent herself as an artist would be to do a concept album with Deacon (Charles Esten). Though he's less than thrilled with the idea at first, Deacon eventually comes around, because... well, he's Deacon.

    It's doubtful at best whether a Rayna-Deacon concept album will provide enough of a windfall to get Highway 65 out of the financial hole it's in after shelling out $275,000 to get Maddie (Lennon Stella) out of her contract, and losing out on the money The Exes would have earned on Autumn Chase's tour now that they've been dropped.

    But one potential source Rayna could turn to for financial help is Zach Welles (Cameron Scoggins), the tech entrepreneur who invited her to play his Silicon Valley fundraiser. He seems friendly enough, but is it possible that his admiration of Rayna is more like an obsession? Him tracking down her cell phone number, coupled with the mysterious flowers she receives ("To the only woman I've ever loved") and the final shot of the episode, which indicates that someone's spying on her, certainly point to "Run, Rayna, Run!" Could it be a misdirect? Highway 65's new "social media and digital marketing manager," Randall St. Clair, also seems to have an unhealthy interest in his new boss.

    Speaking of problematic crushes, Will (Chris Carmack) realizes that inadvertently coming out as a gay activist has buoyed his musical career... but may spell trouble for his relationship with Kevin (Kyle Dean Massey). For starters, his concert audiences are now peppered with gay men who seem incredibly willing and eager to throw themselves at Will.

    And, while out for a birthday dinner with Kevin, Will catches the eye of men's fashion designer Jakob Fine (Murray Bartlett), who shamelessly flirts with Will and later tries to kiss him at a private party. Will rebuffs his advances for now, explaining that he wants to be faithful to his boyfriend - a concept Jakob calls "quaint" - but it's clear that he's more than a little tempted by the offer, which Jakob makes clear is still on the table should Will change his mind. When incredibly trusting Kevin asks Will if anything happened, Will takes Gunnar's (Sam Palladio) advice and stays mum about the almost-kiss, then doubles down and tells Kevin they should get a place together.

    But Gunnar's got problems of his own, with Scarlett (Clare Bowen) consumed by jealousy when it dawns on her that some of the songs she and Gunnar sing together may have been written with one of his (several) former flames, many of whom had close ties to Scarlett, in mind. Looks like we're in for yet another season of ups and downs with these two.

    So, fans, let's turn to you: What do you think of Nashville's CMT revival? Which new characters do you want to see more of? Should Will have told Kevin about Jakob's come-on? And who's stalking Rayna?

    Nashville airs Thursdays at 9/8c on CMT. Episodes will be available on Hulu the day after broadcast.

    Nashville Recap: Love Means Always Having to Say You're Sorry

    (1/6/17) (TVline) This is a recap of the second half of Nashville‘s two-hour Season 5 premiere.

    The folks of Nashville are one sorry bunch as the second half of the two-hour Season 5 premiere gets underway. Rayna is sorry Deacon doesn’t see things her way. Deacon is sorry that he can’t just do things Rayna’s way one more time. Scarlett is sorry she can’t seem to get out of her own way when it comes to loving Gunnar. Gunnar, in true Gunnar fashion, is sorry — but he’s not quite sure why. And it looks like Kevin soon will be real sorry he ever encouraged Will to attend a handsome designer’s trunk show.

    But does any member of this apologetic enclave get satisfaction by the end of the episode? Read on for a rundown of “Back in Baby’s Arms.”

    AUTUMN’S BACK (KINDA)| Let’s deal with the hour’s silliest — by her own admission! — fight first: Scarlett’s beef with Gunnar. When we open on them in bed, she’s irked that Autumn Chase won’t stop texting Gunnar, but he points out that Scarlett asked him not to engage with the brazen country singer anymore, so he hasn’t responded to any of her (many) overtures. When that answer makes too much sense, meaning Scarlett can’t harp on it anymore, she starts grousing about how she’s not even sure if they’re a “thing” or what. Gunnar patiently confirms “We are a thing” and ushers her back under the covers, but no amount of spooning is going to wipe that disgruntled look off Scar’s pixie face.

    WELCOME HOME | Meanwhile, Rayna returns home earlier than expected, to Deacon’s delight. The house is empty and Deke is sporting a black v-neck, so is it any wonder that they’re sliding between the sheets even before the wheels on Rayna’s rolling suitcase stop spinning? And Ray has news for her self-professed “one-man welcoming committee.” While she was driving home, she had an epiphany about her career: She wants to record a concept album about their relationship, which she’ll write and record with Deke. “I want us to write our story, together. Will you do that with me?” she asks, voice all smoky and soft, but Deacon is clearly uncomfortable with the idea. The notion is tabled when she starts snacking on his neck like it’s a pack of in-flight peanuts, but her powers of persuasion come up short when she falls asleep with her nose buried in his stubble. (But Connie Britton’s laugh when Rayna realizes she’s dozed is pretty great.)

    ‘BUNNIES AND DAISIES AND CRAP’ | The next morning at Highway 65, Rayna holds a meeting with Bucky, Scarlett and Gunnar to talk about next steps for The Exes. Ms. Jaymes goes on and on about the “clarity” she found during her drive the same way that people who are on a cleanse just can’t stop talking about how GOOD they feel and how you HAVE to try it and how drinking cayenne and maple syrup is IN NO WAY a form of TORTURE in some parts of the world. We get it, Ray: You’re enlightened. Anyway, she’s all fired up about releasing another Exes single, and she suggests a tune called “All of Me.” Right away, Scarlett looks uneasy, but claims she’s on board.

    Guess what? She’s not. Her big problem with the song is that Gunnar wrote the words, and there’s a passage that goes, “Just one look and I can barely breathe/ I feel your golden eyes burning right through me.” Scarlett has blue eyes. And even though she admits to Deacon that she’s “bein’ weird” and sabotaging her relationship, she can’t get past the fact that Gunny’s love song isn’t about her.

    But she puts her own problems aside for a moment to hear his concerns about Rayna’s proposed concept album… and then to dismiss them in very entertaining fashion. When Deke says he doesn’t want to mine his and Rayna’s tortured love life for song fodder, Scarlett shoots back, “What the hell else are you gonna write about? Bunnies and daisies and crap? Beer?” (Side note: That last part is an in-joke about Esten’s song, “I Love You Beer,” and it’s funny.)

    SOUR NOTES | But the laughs stop when Scarlett picks a fight with Gunnar, whose insistence that “All of Me” isn’t really about anyone does nothing to assuage her anger. Later, she theorizes that Gunnar’s been mad at her ever since she said no to his marriage proposal. “I just wanted to let you know that singin’ that song makes me want to slap the living hell outta you!” she says, leaving things on a bad note with her boyfriend. And when she and Deacon process the situation later, Uncle Deke suggests that maybe she should just apologize and hope for the best.

    So Scarlett shows up for a radio spot, says she’s sorry and sings “All of Me” with Gunnar, who changes the lyrics to “blue eyes” during the performance. Everyone wins!

    WELL, HIS LAST NAME IS FINE… | Let’s take a brief break to deal with the Incredibly About-to-End-Soon Story of Two Boys in Love. During Will’s birthday dinner, he and Kevin are approached by Jakob Fine, a big-deal menswear designer who really wants to baste Will’s hem, if you catch my drift.

    Before you know it, Will is at one of Fine’s trunk shows, where the slick designer wastes no time in going in for a kiss. And the thing is, Will totally wants to do it; only some last-minute guilt stops him from the smooch. Jakob reluctantly backs off but reminds Will that “the offer is open, so if anything changes, call me.”

    After hashing it all out with Gunnar — who does my job for me by pointing out that NO ONE should be taking relationship advice from him — Will decides to stuff his budding Jakob lust and double down by suggesting that he and Kevin buy a house together. I’m sure everything will be just great.

    ROUGH RECOVERY | Over at Casa Barnes (and sometimes Barkley), Juliette is still doing that “You’re going to leave eventually” thing to Avery, who vows that he won’t. She also says she wants to find the woman who helped her in the field after the plane crash. So she and Emily go to the church, where the pastor tells her that her “angel” is a very private woman named Hallie, and he’ll pass Ju’s number to her. He also assures Juliette that “God has a great plan for you… just ask him.” I expect Juliette to brush him off, but it feels like his words land, and I’m hopeful.

    A MEETING OF THE MINDS | Meanwhile, Deacon shows up at Highway 65 with the news that he’s going to play on a record Avery is producing for a YouTube sensation named Ashley; Rayna is less than pleased that he’s committed to the “Ashley Whatsernuggets” (hee!) album before giving her an answer about theirs. Later, they have a heated discussion about how he’s just a player in The Rayna Jaymes Show… which is kinda true, no? “I live in your beautiful house with your beautiful girls. It’s your label. It’s your world, baby. I’m just living in it. You make all the decisions. It’s not always easy, you know?” Deacon tells her, but she refuses to get into old arguments with him.

    But after some time has passed, she apologizes for trying to force him into the cover album. She reflects on their life together, adding, “What a long, strange trip it’s been.” If that is a subtle clue that this concept album is going to turn into a Rayna-Deacon Grateful Dead cover album, SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY. She admits that she hadn’t thought about how digging into past pain might not be the most fun for someone who’s just come off a year of losing his sister and punching his business partner and getting parentally divorced by his ungrateful teenager. But when she’s done saying sorry, Deacon picks up a guitar and plays her an in-progress love song: He’s already started writing for their new album. Rayna is nearly in tears as she says that she loves him. And before she leaves, she offhandedly thanks him for sending her flowers with a card that said, “To the only woman I have ever loved.”

    The thing is: Deacon didn’t send them. And as Rayna goes to Highway 65, we see someone watching her and listening to her song “Already Gone” — all stalker-like — from a car with a busted windshield across the street. Is it her too-enthusiastic new digital marketing manager? Is it the über-rich Zach Wells, whose high-pitched laugh is just super creepy when he calls to say he’s coming to town? Or is there an altogether different danger lurking in Rayna’s near future?

    Charles Esten And Hayden Panettiere Discuss "Nashville"

    (1/5/17) AOL Build Video: Charles Esten And Hayden Panettiere Discuss "Nashville".

    Hayden Panettiere Opens Up About Postpartum Depression and Rehab: "I'm All the Stronger for It"

    (1/5/17) Hayden Panettiere is starting 2017 off strong.

    The Nashville star appeared on Good Morning America Thursday and opened up about her struggles with postpartum depression after welcoming daughter Kaya, 2. "It takes you a while and you feel off," Panettiere explained of how she realized something was wrong. "You don't feel like yourself."

    With the love and support of her fiancé Wladimir Klitschko, Panettiere checked into rehab to receive treatment—a decision she said made her a "better mom."

    "Women are so resilient, and that's the incredible thing about them," she said. "I think I'm all the stronger for it. I think I'm a better mom because of it because you never take that connection for granted."

    Even though Panettiere is away from her daughter these days—little Kaya is skiing in Austria (no big deal!)—the Heroes alum is "feeling fabulous."

    "I'm feeling great," she gushed, adding that filming Nashville has helped her get back on track. "I'm so glad to be back playing Juliette. Everything she's been through has been like a hazard sign in the road. She made me stronger. I feel like she's a phoenix. She crashes and burns and then she rises from the ashes and she always takes the lesson and becomes stronger for it.

    "So we have that in common I think," Panettiere added.

    Panettiere's onscreen character also struggled with postpartum depression. "It absolutely helped me," she said of playing her country star character. "I think it helped me identify what was going on. And to let women know that it's OK to ask for help and it's OK to have a moment of weakness. It doesn't make you a bad person, doesn't make you a bad mother. It makes you a very strong, resilient woman. You've just got to let it make you stronger."

    Nashville After Show to Air Online Only

    (1/4/17) Nashville‘s long-rumored after show is happening… just not on CMT.

    The Talking Dead-style post mortem series, which was first mentioned as a possibility in June, will take place on CMT’s Facebook page immediately following the country-music drama, the network announced Wednesday.

    The first episode of Nashchat, with guest Chris Carmack, will premiere Thursday at 11/10c after Nashville‘s Season 5 premiere. Radio personality Amy Brown will host.

    “Fans saved Nashville. Now we’re inviting fans into our living room to celebrate the characters, stories and music they love,” CMT president Brian Philips said via statement. “With Nashchat, we’ll create a home across all social media culminating with a Facebook Live interactive recap and fan chat immediately following new episodes.”

    Connie Britton Confirms She’s Staying On ‘Nashville’

    (1/4/17) (Video) Connie Britton has put to rest any lingering questions that she might be looking for an early exit from CMT’s Nashville.

    In an appearance Wednesday on The Ellen Show, when asked about rumors that she may not be in the show for the entire fifth season, Britton assured that’s not the case. “I’m in. I’m in for the duration,” she told host Ellen DeGeneres. There had been questions early on about Britton’s future on the show and that she had committed to only a limited number of episodes for the series’ 22-episode Season 5 order. Nashville has not been renewed beyond its coming fifth season, so the future of the show itself has not been determined beyond that.

    The country music drama was resurrected by CMT and Hulu after it was canceled by ABC after a four-season run. Britton credited the show’s fans for its return. “I have seen in so many ways in my life the power that a unified voice can have,” she said about the reaction to the cancellation. “The fans were just not going to have it.”

    Nashville Season 5 returns with a special two-hour episode on CMT on Thursday, January 5 at 9 PM.

    'Nashville' returns with transgender actress, new plot lines

    (12/28/16) The new season of "Nashville" starts with traditional songs rooted in gospel and folk music rather than big production country songs.

    Rayna, played by Connie Britton, finds a revelation after hearing a blind man singing "Wayfaring Stranger," an Appalachian tune estimated to be two centuries old. And Juliette, played by Hayden Panettiere, sees an angelic vision in white singing the hymn "God Shall Wipe All Tears Away."

    Cancelled by ABC after four seasons, the new season of "Nashville" on CMT , which begins Jan. 5, aims to reflect more diversity in both the music and the cast. The new season also will be available on Hulu.

    In recurring roles this season: Grammy-winning banjo player and singer Rhiannon Giddens and writer-actress-producer Jen Richards, the first out transgender actor on a CMT series.

    "I have spent so much of my life studying and playing music that has gone into country music: the banjo, the fiddle, the string band tunes," said Giddens, the lead singer of the African-American string band Carolina Chocolate Drops.

    Fans of contemporary country music may recognize Giddens, who sings the hymn in the first episode, from her duet with Eric Church on the Country Music Association Awards show in November.

    "It is time for the real history of country music to have more of a highlight, for people to know that there were lots of black people who played the banjo, that the string band itself came from plantation culture," said Giddens.

    The changes behind the scenes include new showrunners Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick, who created the show "Thirtysomething" and were executive producers on "My So-Called Life."

    "We wanted to explore the diversity of music that's going on in Nashville," Herskovitz said. "To bring in people of different ethnicities and from different backgrounds just felt important."

    Richards, who earned an Emmy nomination for her web series, "Her Story," said word spread quickly within the transgender acting community that "Nashville" was casting because there are so few television roles available.

    "I only get called in for trans roles and then I lose those parts to men because they think I look too much like a regular girl to play a trans part," Richards said.

    The casting of a recurring transgender role on a show set and shot in the South is extremely timely. Last year, Tennessee lawmakers considered a so-called "bathroom bill" that would require public school students to use the restrooms corresponding to their gender at birth. Viacom, the parent company of CMT, condemned the bill in Tennessee, which ultimately failed to pass.

    However, when Richards goes to visit her family in North Carolina, it's a different story. Lawmakers there failed to repeal a law that limits protections for LGBT people and includes a provision about which bathrooms transgender people can use. Lionsgate, which produces "Nashville," pulled production out of North Carolina on another series because of the law.

    "That law was only possible, people could only draft that and put it through and actually vote for it and support it because they don't know trans people," Richards said during an interview on set in Nashville. "It's because we're not on TV shows. We're not in the movies."

    Herskovitz said the show will address Richards' gender later in the season, but said many people likely will not even notice in the first episodes.

    "I don't think 'Nashville' is a political show and it's not meant to be a political show, but I think it would be very hard to look at Jen and say, 'Oh, that person should use a man's bathroom,'" Herskovitz said.

    Richards said being the first open transgender actor on CMT is hugely significant to changing perceptions about the transgender community.

    "Something like 'Nashville,' which is very popular in middle America and in the South, it's going to reach people who might not have known anything about trans folks or ever seen one or met one or gotten to know their stories," Richards said. "So this kind of thing can make a big difference."

    How To Catch Up on Nashville in Five Minutes

    (12/19/16) Whether you’ve watched every episode a million times, or you’ve never seen a single episode, now is the perfect time to catch up on all things Nashville.

    With the new season just around the corner, we’ve created these two videos to get you prepped and ready for the Jan. 5 premiere.

    Here’s Nashville in a nutshell: Video1, Video2.

    Don’t miss the two-hour season premiere of Nashville Thursday, Jan. 5 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Get all of the latest Nashville news, videos and behind-the-scenes action on the Nashville Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram and join the conversation using #NashvilleCMT.

    Nashville Boss: Will 'Is Not Defined By His Sexuality' in Season 5

    (12/17/16) In his short time on Nashville, Will Lexington has been a closeted gay male, a conflicted gay country musician and a proud crusader for gay acceptance.

    Now, executive producer Marshall Herskovitz says, a “great story line” in Season 5 will allow Will to do something for the first time in series history: He’ll just be a character like all the others.

    “We’re very sensitive to the fact that Will is a human being first, a musician second. He’s not defined by his sexuality, just like no one else is defined by their sexuality,” the EP previews.

    Longtime viewers will recall that, after it became clear that Chris Carmack’s alter ego was attracted to men, his storylines tended to center on that fact at the expense of most other character attributes. Will snuck around with various guys, engaged in a sham marriage, finally came out to his friends, fought his disapproving parents, fended off the advances of an on-the-downlow older country artist, fell in love with a fellow male songwriter and eventually held a press conference to announce his sexuality to the world… then had to fight to find a label willing to promote an openly gay country artist.

    Herskovitz praises Carmack’s portrayal of the beleaguered character, saying, “I find him to be an amazing performer, a wonderful actor, and we’re trying to serve his character, that’s all.” Beyond that, the EP doesn’t offer specifics, saying that he doesn’t want to spoil what’s ahead in the new season, which officially gets underway on CMT on Thursday, Jan. 5 (9/8c). However, he acknowledges that previous seasons have focused too much on whom Will loves —”but that’s not the direction we’re going.”

    ‘Nashville’ Season 5 Trailer: Rayna Deals With A Stalker

    (12/16/16) (Video) CMT has dropped the extended trailer for Nashville Season 5. It comes on the heels of last night’s sneak hourlong preview of the new season premiere.

    It begins with Juliette facing a tough recovery, both physically and emotionally and Rayna and Deacon coming to terms with a new normal, with Maddie now back home and Highway 65 struggling financially. The trailer also reveals Rayna has a stalker and Maddie has a mysterious new boyfriend.

    Nashville is set against the backdrop of the city’s music scene and follows Rayna Jaymes and Juliette Barnes. Both women face personal and professional challenges as they navigate their paths as artists and individuals. Surrounding them and often complicating their lives are their family, friends and, in some cases, lovers, as well as the up-and-coming performers and songwriters trying to get ahead in the business.

    Nashville stars Connie Britton as Rayna Jaymes, Hayden Panettiere as Juliette Barnes, Clare Bowen as Scarlett O’Connor, Chris Carmack as Will Lexington, Charles Esten as Deacon Claybourne, Jonathan Jackson as Avery Barkley, Sam Palladio as Gunnar Scott, Maisy Stella as Daphne Conrad and Lennon Stella as Maddie Conrad. In addition, the upcoming season will feature Joseph David-Jones as Clay, Rhiannon Giddens as Hallie Jordan, Jen Richards as Allyson Del Lago, and Cameron Scoggins as Zach Welles in recurring roles.

    Produced by Lionsgate, ABC Studios and Opry Entertainment, production is currently underway in Nashville. The series is executive produced by Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick, Steve Buchanan and Callie Khouri. Jayson Dinsmore and Morgan Selzer executive produce for CMT.

    Check out the trailer above.

    Nashville Season 5 Premiere Recap: Slow Jam the Blues

    (12/15/16) Goodbye, pig’s blood. Hello, ennui.

    A spruced-up and pared-down Nashville gets underway this week, with the Season 5 premiere marking both the drama’s move to CMT network and its slowed-down approach to storytelling, courtesy of new showrunners Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz.

    The hour — which is the first half of a two-part season opener; Part 2 will air Jan. 5 — finds both of the series’ leading ladies in rough places. Juliette survives her plane crash (no shocker there) but becomes convinced that the injuries she sustains are some kind of karmic payout for past bitchery. And Rayna is just, for lack of a better word, shook: by business troubles, by Juliette’s situation, by an inability to connect with the music that got her where she is in the first place.

    And in the absence of drunken car accident! fist fight! whiny teenage rebellion! crazy-eyed mistress! accidental death! pill addiction! alcoholic relapse!, the show has the time and room to go deep on both of these soul-searching trajectories. For the most part, and particularly in the Rayna-Deacon relationship, I think it works pretty well. Although I’m not 100 percent on board with Rayna’s sudden existential crisis, I’m very pleased with what it shows us about Mr. and Mrs. Claybourne, at least in this episode: They love and support each other consistently, not just in the lulls between big, soapy cliffhangers.

    Read on for the highlights of “The Wayfaring Stranger.”

    ON THE ROAD AGAIN | We open with Rayna, looking like Downhome Barbie in a muscle tank and baseball cap, pulling into a rural gas station in a convertible. While a starstruck kid pumps her gas, Rayna notices an old, blind man singing “The Wayfaring Stranger” over near the garage. She approaches him, a weird look on her face; when he asks her to sing, she tells him she’d rather hear him continue. It’s all a bit surreal, and before we can figure out exactly what’s up, a title card takes us back to three weeks earlier.

    MAYDAY | All of a sudden, we’re plopped in the midst of the wreckage of Juliette’s plane. A woman who happened to be nearby runs through the scene, calling for help; when she sees Juliette is still alive, though badly hurt and fading fast, she sings to her to keep her awake. And because this is Nashville, the woman has heavenly pipes. (If it were me singing to Juliette, she’d probably go gladly into that good night.)

    News of the accident travels quickly. We see Avery wake up Gunnar and Scarlett (oh hello there!) and Will; over at Casa Jaymes-Claybourne, a tearful Maddie and Daphne climb into their parents’ bed and turn on the news. The next thing we know, we’re back to three weeks later — though not quite at the point where we started the hour. Juliette’s spinal cord is intact, but two vertebrae were shattered, and she can only move one of her toes. “It could be months before you feel anything,” her no-nonsense doctor reassures her. “Or never,” Juliette replies, dour. “Think good thoughts. It helps,” the doc shoots back. And while I appreciate (and agree with) the woman’s chipper practicality, I understand where Ju’s mind is at: Is that the kind of thing you’d want to hear if you couldn’t get past the first line of “This Little Piggy”?

    Juliette is pretty checked out of life, but there’s a bright spot: When she talks to Cadence, she’s fully engaged and much lighter and happier. Rayna comes for a visit, which we learn is a semi-regular thing. Under Red’s gentle questioning, Juliette starts crying and admits that she feels under pressure to get better because so many people’s livelihoods depend on her. “I caused this,” she says. “I messed everything up in my life, and this is the result.” Rayna looks pained as Juliette goes on to explain that she was saved by an angel. “If you were doomed, why would an angel come and save your life?” Ray asks.

    RAYNA’S BIGGEST FAN? | Over at Highway 65, Bucky’s got some bad news: They had to pay $275,000 to free Maddie from her Lennox Hill contract, and because Gunnar and Scarlett were kicked off Autumn’s tour, the revenue stream from The Exes’ new album is basically dry. “Are we in trouble?” Rayna asks him, showing far more concern about finances than when, oh, Juliette broke her contract or when Markus was a total soul-patched d-bag or when Scarlett hid under a piano or when Layla threw a zillion hissy fits or any number of other H65 “bumps in the road,” as Bucky calls their current troubles.

    To bring in a little cash, Rayna agrees to play a private charity event for a self-confessed “insane, out of control fanboy,” a Silicon Valley rich guy named Zach Welles. The three most important things to know about Zach: 1) He developed an app called Boogaroo, and it made him a lot of money. 2) He wears a hooded sweatshirt underneath his sportscoat. 3) He is odd in the way that might just be fun and eccentric but probably will end with him stealing Rayna’s fingernail clippings out of her garbage.

    Anyway, she plays a concert at his party and is basically reduced to being background music; I give her credit that she gamely just keeps going through the set and doesn’t say anything to the crowd; can you imagine someone like Faith Hill or Reba or Trisha Yearwood being cool with people talking incessantly throughout their shows?

    Afterward, Zach apologizes and, over drinks, wonders why Rayna hasn’t recorded anything lately. He pushes past her “I’m busy” excuse until she gives him an honest answer. “I’m not recording anymore because I don’t have anything to say,” she says, sadly. “I’ve worked so hard to keep my label afloat, I forget who I am as an artist.” When he asks, she tells him “The Wayfaring Stranger” by Bill Monroe was the first song that ever really got through to her; he suggests that she needs to figure out what else will make her feel that way, and chase it.

    IN WHICH NOT EVEN DEACON-LOVIN’ DOES THE TRICK | A deeply unsettled Rayna calls her husband and confesses that, after an anxiety attack rattled her on the plane out to California, she can’t fly home. He talks her down a little and says they’ll touch base in the morning… and then surprises her by showing up at her hotel room. Aw, guys! “Why are you here, crazy person?” she says, smiling. “‘Cause my girl’s in trouble,” he says simply, and that sound you just heard? It’s Rayna’s pajama bottoms hitting the ground.

    She drags him to bed, but their fun is short-lived: Afterward, Rayna makes it clear that she’s not going to fly home, because she needs the time and headspace involved in driving back to Tennessee by herself. “I’m lost,” she confesses. And though Deacon’s a little confused, he doesn’t punch a wall or sulk or do any of the other inexplicable things he’s done in the past. He merely hears what she says and supports her decision. Y’all, it’s hot.

    And that brings us to Rayna and the old guy at the gas station. He plays. She listens. He suggests that she let herself sing, because she “might find the joy you’re lookin’ for.” Rayna looks at him like HOW HAVE YOU SEEN INTO MY SOUL YOU SIGHTLESS SOOTHSAYER? But she sits. Has she reestablished that connection she seeks? Unclear. (But remember, the finale continues in a few weeks.)

    ANGELS WE HAVE HEARD ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD | Meanwhile, back at her house, Juliette can’t accept that Avery is still in it for the long haul. When he professes his love, she responds, “We’ll see how you feel in a few weeks.” But after a nightmare about the crash late one night, she demands that he drive her to the site where the plane landed so she can see everything with her own eyes. Of course, all the wreckage has been cleared, and it’s back to being just a field. “I thought I was gonna die. Why didn’t I die?” she sobs as he holds her. Poor thing.

    After a little nap in the car, Avery and Juliette stop for smoothies on the way home. They happen to be across the road from a church, and a voice inside draws Juliette out of her funk and over to the house of worship. At the door, Ju realizes that the woman singing a solo is her “angel” from the night of the crash, and her eyes fill with tears.

    BACK AT HOME… | Maddie is still pretty terrible (though I hold out hope), snapping at Daphne when the younger girl tries to help her finish writing a song that’s giving her trouble. Scarlett takes the teen aside for a little real talk: When someone helps you out of a creative bind, “we call it collaboration,” she says. So Mads sucks it up, apologizes and sings the (very pretty) new tune with her sis in the living room while Gunnar and Scarlett look on.

    Nashville EP Talks 'Course Correction' Regarding Maddie's Role in Season 5

    (12/14/16) If you weren’t Maddie Conrad/Claybourne’s biggest fan during Nashville‘s fourth season, the men responsible for another highly talked-about TV teen want you to know: They’re on it.

    “I can say that i was not a fan of the storyline that they gave Maddie last year,” says Marshall Herskovitz, who along with Ed Zwick assumed showrunning duties when the country-music drama moved to CMT for Season 5. He refers to the series’ emancipated minor plot, which found Rayna and Deacon’s adolescent daughter (played by Lennon Stella) legally separating from her parents when they wouldn’t allow her to sign with a recording label.

    Herskovitz tells TVLine that the series’ upcoming fifth season (the first hour of which airs Thursday at 9/8c) addresses fans’ grievances with Daphne’s big sis. “We’ve made a course correction on that that we’re very excited about, and I think Lennon is excited about,” he says, though to avoid spoilers, he declines to give specifics. He also adds that Maisy Stella’s Daphne also will “have her own storylines” as the season progresses.

    Still worried? Herskovitz, who along with Zwick created the critically acclaimed My So-Called Life and its Kool Aid-haired protagonist Angela Chase, asks wary fans to review his track record.

    “If you look at our history, we did a whole series about teenage girls,” he says, chuckling. “We’re excited by the idea about telling stories about both [Maddie and Daphne], and that’s going to manifest itself.”

    Will Nashville Address Tennessee's Anti-LGBT Law?

    (12/5/16) When the future of Nashvillewas still up in the air earlier this year, members of the show's cast, including leading lady Connie Britton, said publicly that they would have a difficult time continuing to work in Tennessee given the recent passage of a law in the state that discriminates against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Perhaps owing in part to the actors' statements, ABC decided to not renew Nashville for a fifth season.

    Of course, the show was subsequently picked up by CMT in partnership with Hulu, and since the announcement that Nashville would live to see another season after all, the cast members have remained mum about the legislation, which allows counselors and therapists to refuse service to clients/patients whose lifestyles do not align with the providers' "principles."

    Marshall Herskovitz, the new co-showrunner (along with Ed Zwick) of the show, admits that the law "hasn't come up" in his discussions with the stars of Nashville. And though the show features a prominent same-sex relationship storyline in the form of Will (Chris Carmack, who also spoke out against the legislation) and Kevin (Kyle Dean Massey), it sounds like there are no plans for real-life politics to factor into the plot, in conversations or otherwise.

    "The Will storyline - which, by the way, is not defined by the fact that he's gay, but he is gay, and we're not shying away from the fact that he's gay - is one we're very excited about," Herskovitz tells "I think, from my point of view, this is a national conversation. The particulars of Tennessee, and the laws in Tennessee, that's not something that I really felt we needed to dramatize in the show."

    Herskovitz has teased that the Nashville revival will move at a slower pace than the ABC version, with him and Zwick focusing more on "emotional" storytelling. In other words, the show will comment on the legislation in a subtle way, by depicting the types of people who will be affected by the law, rather than explicitly condemning it. "I'd rather dramatize the issues rather than the law, if that makes sense," Herskovitz notes.

    However, the show is making some behind-the-scenes moves to promote equality. Season 5 will introduce a trans character, played by openly trans actress Jen Richards.

    "My guess is most people will have no idea that she's trans until we talk about it. We don't talk about it in the first episode, and I think that's, in some way, part of what the conversation has to be in our country," Herskovitz says. "I think so many people don't really understand what it's about, and I think Jen has been great that way. She's great in the show."

    Details on Richards' character are being kept mostly under wraps; however, all signs point to her being heavily involved with Juliette Barnes' (Hayden Panettiere) storyline as she recovers from the plane crash at the end of Season 4.

    It should also be noted that Nashville's fan base is made up of viewers across the political spectrum, and like any showrunners who want their series to stay on the air, Herskovitz and Zwick have to cater to viewers on both sides of the political aisle. In all likelihood, the best way to do that is probably to avoid politics altogether, while still telling stories that fans can relate to. Speaking about the addition of Richards in particular, Herskovitz adds: "It's part of trying to reflect the world as it is, put it that way."

    Nashville debuts on CMT with a one-hour "sneak peek" premiere on Thursday, Dec. 15 at 9/8c, before the official two-hour premiere on Thursday, Jan. 5 at 9/8c. Episodes will be available on Hulu the day after they air on CMT.

    Nashville Season 5: New Boss Promises 'Less Adrenaline, More Emotion'

    (12/2/16) When Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick were first approached about taking over showrunning duties at Nashville, “I had never watched it,” Herskovitz says, chuckling sheepishly.

    He quickly caught up on the country-music drama, which will have its official Season 5 premiere on CMT in January after ABC cancelled it in May. The verdict? “I felt that this was potentially an amazing show,” the executive producer tells TVLine — but the action unfolded way too quickly.

    “It followed a template which is a kind of storytelling that I don’t know how to do, meaning a high amount of incidents, where things happen to people at a very fast rate,” he says. “And by the way, this is really a staple of modern network television. You see it on ABC shows all the time. It’s something that audiences really like — but it’s nothing that I know how to do.”

    Herskovitz and Zwick are best known for dramas like thirtysomething, My So-Called Life and Once and Again, dramas that are “absolutely minimalist on plot and all about the very nuanced interactions between people,” aka not reliant on car crashes/covered-up accidental deaths/faked miscarriages and the like.

    “So the question was… could we create some kind of hybrid where we brought what we do to Nashville without sort of turning it into a Nashvillesomething?” he continues, laughing. “We didn’t want to ruin what was great about the show, but we had to do storytelling the way we understand it.”

    And that version of Nashville is the one that that fans will see in January (or on Dec. 15, when CMT will air a sneak peek of the two-hour premiere’s first half). “The tradeoff is less adrenaline, more emotion,” Herskovitz says. “We have longer scenes, deeper scenes, more opportunity for true relationships between these people to fulfill themselves, to play themselves out. And I think it’s much more emotionally satisfying this way.”

    Though he declined to talk character specifics, the EP offered these nuggets in advance of the drama’s rhinestone-studded return:

    * When asked about Connie Britton’s reported departure from Nashville after the season’s 10th episode, Herskovitz good-naturedly reiterated, “I just can’t talk about any kind of a storyline. I think it’s better if I just don’t say anything… I mean, I can say that Hayden [Panettiere] is back, because everyone knows she’s back. But I can’t really talk about anything else from a story concept. So sorry.”

    * Look for Deacon to put down his dukes this season. “I find Charles Esten to be just an astonishingly great actor, and I feel what we’ve been able to do with Chip and with Deacon is, again, go deeper into his character,” Herskovitz previews. “So the issue of his sobriety, or the issue of whether he punches people, is not going to be where our focus is going to be.”

    * Herskovitz praised Will Chase, who was cut as a series regular in June but who will appear in the new season, as being “really gracious” about understanding the show’s needs. “One of the decisions we made when we first came in was that there were simply too many characters. If we were trying to do less in each episode, there’s just simple math here, do you know what I mean?” The EP added that the show will bring Chase’s Luke back again when needed. “We had to make some draconian decisions early on, and it had nothing to do with the performers. It had everything to do with where those characters fit into the overall storyline of the show. That’s all.”

    Nashville Sneak Peek Set for Dec. 15 on CMT

    (12/1/16) The holidays are coming early for the Nashies!

    As a gift for the fans, CMT will sneak the first hour of the two-hour season premiere of Nashville on Thursday, Dec. 15 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. (Video)

    Additionally, CMT just dropped the first trailer for the new season. Check it out!

    The season begins with Rayna and Deacon facing a new normal with Maddie now back home and Highway 65 struggling financially. The shocking news about Juliette creates a wave of emotions throughout Nashville and sets Rayna off on a journey of discovery.

    The two-hour season premiere of Nashville will debut on Thursday, Jan. 5 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

    What breakup? Hayden and Wladimir party at Art Basel

    (11/30/16) After shooting down breakup rumors, Hayden Panettiere and boxing champ Wladimir Klitschko stepped out together at an Art Basel Miami Beach party.

    The “Nashville” star and Klitschko appeared together at the Daily Front Row bash at the Faena Art Dome on the beach on Tuesday night.

    The couple happily posed for photos and mingled with other guests including supermodel Natasha Poly, the covergirl for the Daily Front Row’s Art Basel edition, plus editor-in-chief Brandusa Niro and publisher Mark Tevis.

    Panettiere, who said she recently sought treatment for postpartum depression following the birth of their daughter Kaya, who is nearly 2, shot down rumors that she and the Ukrainian boxing champ had split after she was spotted in New York without her engagement ring.

    “Missing rings don’t mean the end of relationships,” she captioned a photo of herself cuddling with Klitschko and their daughter, “Blessed to be with my beautiful family.”

    Nashville Season 5: New Teaser Takes Us Inside Juliette's Ill-Fated Plane

    (11/19/16) (Video) Buckle up, Nashville fans: Season 5 is going to get off to a literally bumpy start.

    A new teaser recently released by CMT offers our first glimpse at the country-music series’ upcoming episodes. And one of the biggest revelations is that Juliette’s plane, which had gone missing at the very end of the drama’s ABC run, is indeed in trouble.

    The 30-second promo shows Juliette inside her aircraft as it hits major turbulence, as well as Rayna, Deacon and the kids getting news of the crash while watching TV in bed together.

    Elsewhere in the mix, we see Will having a close moment with a man who is not Kevin (and who likely is Jakob Fine, a new character played by Murray Bartlett), Scarlett and Gunnar having a fraught conversation and Maddie and Deacon having a heart-to-heart in which she sobs, “I don’t know how you even look at me.”

    The cancelled ABC country-music drama will make its CMT debut with a two-hour premiere on Thursday, January 5, at 9/8c. As previously reported, Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz (thirtysomething) will take over as showrunners; star Connie Britton will leave the series after she appears in 10 of the upcoming 22 episodes.

    Connie Britton, Oliver Platt Cast In ‘Professor Marston & The Wonder Woman’

    (11/22/16) Connie Britton and Oliver Platt have been added to the cast of Professor Marston & The Wonder Woman, the biopic from writer/director Angela Robinson. The two join Rebecca Hall, Luke Evans and Bella Heathcoate.

    The film details the true story of Dr. William Moulton Marston (Evans), Harvard psychologist and inventor who created Wonder Woman in 1941; his wife, fellow psychologist and inventor Elizabeth (Hall); and their polyamorous relationship with Olive Byrne (Heathcote), a former student of Marston’s and an academic in her own right. Britton will play Josette Frank, a brilliant and uncompromising psychologist who thought Marston to be anti-feminist and believed his ideas were dangerous. Platt plays M.C. Gaines, the portly, hot-tempered editor at Sensation Comics who discovered superman.

    Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions recently picked up worldwide rights to the Topple Productions and Boxspring Entertainment indie film. Amy Redford, Andrea Sperling, and Terry Leonard are producing.

    Britton’s recent film credits include Sundance pic Me & Earl & the Dying Girl, directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and This Is Where I Leave You opposite Tina Fey and Jason Bateman. On the tv side, she is set to reprise her role in the CMT-revived Nashville. She is repped by WME, Untitled Entertainment and Hansen, Jacobson, Teller. Platt, also with WME, can currently be seen in Warren Beatty’s Rules Don’t Apply, EuropaCorp’s Shut In with Naomi Watts, and on NBC’s Chicago Med.

    Nashville: Stars Credit #BringBackNashville Movement with CMT Revival

    (11/10/16) (Video) It looks like the stars of Nashville are settling nicely into their new home on CMT.

    In a new promotional video, Connie Britton, Charles Esten, Sam Palladio (who looks like he wandered in off the set of Downton Abbey-- but don't worry, it's for a music video) and more of the show's stars share their experiences rallying together with the its dedicated fan base to #BringBackNashville. Partially as a result of fans' posts on social media, the show was resurrected by CMT in partnership with Hulu and producers Lionsgate, ABC Studios and Opry Entertainment, after being canceled by ABC earlier this year.

    "To see what the fans did to bring Nashville back was really moving, and it makes us just feel really grateful and also really like we want to do this justice," Britton says in the video, exclusive to "We want to bring you the best that we can bring you."

    Check out the video to see what the other stars have to say, as well as some behind-the-scenes footage of Palladio and Clare Bowen filming what looks to be a very elaborate Gunnar and Scarlett music video.

    Nashville returns with a two-hour Season 5 premiere on Thursday, Jan. 5 at 9/8c on CMT. New episodes will be available on Hulu the day after they air.

    Nashville Season 5: Luke Who's Back!

    (11/6/16) His days as a series regular may be over, but Will Chase‘s presence will be felt — and seen, apparently — when Nashville premieres on CMT in 2017.

    Chris Carmack on Sunday tweeted a behind-the-scenes look at Season 5, revealing that we haven’t heard the last of Rayna’s ex-fiancé Luke Wheeler:

    (Pic) @RealCarmack : It's always a good day opening up for Luke Wheeler! @WillChaseMe @NashvilleCMT

    And Chase, now a series regular on ABC’s midseason drama Time After Time, clearly shares in Carmack’s excitement:

    @WillChaseMe : Felt good to put the boots back on and always great to see YOU brother! @RealCarmack @NashvilleCMT #WheelsUp …

    The guys’ working relationship hasn’t always been a smooth one — remember when Luke wanted to drop Will from his label? — but it seems the two have worked out their differences, so much so that Will is now opening up for Luke in concert.

    Nashville‘s fifth season kicks off with a two-hour premiere on Thursday, Jan. 5 at 9/8c on CMT.

    Viacom Restructuring Has TV Land & CMT Migrate To Music & Entertainment Group: Consolidation Ahead Of Merger With CBS?

    (10/31/16) In the official announcement of President and CEO of Viacom International Media Networks Robert Bakish as acting CEO of Viacom, he also was named President and Chief Executive Officer of a new TV unit, Viacom Global Entertainment Group, which combines VIMN division, which he ran, with the Company’s Music and Entertainment Group, overseen by Doug Herzog, which includes MTV, Comedy Central, VH1, Spike and Logo.

    As part of the restructuring, TV Land and CMT, which had been part of the Viacom Kids and Family Group, overseen by Cyma Zarghami for the past year and a half, will now move to the Global Entertainment Group. Zarghami’s group will revert to being the Nickelodeon Group, which it was before TV Land and CMT were added to her portfolio of Nickelodeon and its offshoots.

    Essentially, the new Global Entertainment Group consolidates the old Viacom Entertainment Group under Herzog, which consisted of Comedy Central, Spike TV and TV Land, and MTV Networks under Van Toffler, comprised by MTV, VH1 and CMT, as they were before Van Toffler’s February 2015 exit. At the time, MTV Networks was split up, with Herzog taking over MTV and VH1 and Zarghami getting CMT, in addition to TV Land. The relocation of TV Land to the Kids and Family group led to the departure of president Larry Jones. Now the network is returning to its old family of networks.

    No one is commenting on the rationale behind the new restructuring. While it makes business sense to put domestic and international networks under the same roof, that is being done for MTV and MTV International networks and Comedy Central and Comedy Central International networks but not for Nickelodeon and its international counterparts in the new setup.

    Examining the new structure, it appears that the company is streamlining its TV operations, consolidating its domestic cable brands in three distinct groups — Music and Entertainment; Nickelodeon, targeting kids; and BET Networks, catering to African American audiences — as the company prepares for a potential merger with CBS.

    “We’re not going to stand still while the CBS merger is being evaluated,” Bakish wrote in his internal memo about the restructuring today. “I believe there’s a lot of work we can do in the near-term to make us stronger, no matter what the next chapter of Viacom is.”

    While the formal Viacom announcement did not include Bakish’s leadership team at the new unit, in his memo he confirmed that Herzog, Zarghami and BET Networks’ Debra Lee are staying put.

    “I’m really looking forward to working with the leadership teams at the corporate and divisional level – and all of you – to move us forward,” he said. “That will include partnering with Doug, Cyma, Debra and VIMN leadership to make sure the Media Networks reorganization that was announced helps to strengthen our brands in every market we operate, and allows us to make the most of our global scale.”

    ‘Nashville’ Adds ‘Harry Potter’ Alum Christian Coulson As Recurring

    (10/24/16) Christian Coulson (Love Is Strange, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) has been cast as recurring on CMT’s upcoming fifth season of its country music drama Nashville, from Lionsgate and Hulu.

    Coulson will play Damien George, a sought-after British director who will be helming Gunner Scott & Scarlett O’Connor’s first video. Confident and by turns charming and caustic, he has a specific vision for his work and gets off on pushing the limits of actors to achieve that vision.

    Nashville returns for Season 5 with a two-hour premiere January 5 on CMT. The series is executive produced by Marshall Herskovitz, Ed Zwick, Steve Buchanan and Callie Khouri. Jayson Dinsmore and Morgan Selzer executive produce for CMT. Episodes will be available on Hulu the day after they air on the cable network.

    Coulson’s credits also span film and the stage. His recent TV credits include Mozart in the Jungle, Eye Candy, Nurse Jackie and The Good Wife. He is repped by Abrams Artists Agency and the Katz Company.

    First Nashville CMT Promo: Rayna, Juliette and More Are Back, Y'all

    (10/20/16) (Video) No matter how tempestuous life in Nashville can be, “it’s the music that saves me,” the first official promo for the drama’s fifth season proclaims.

    In the minute-long spot, released Thursday, Rayna, Juliette, Deacon and the gang all wax dramatic about their lives in Music City while scenes from the series’ four previous seasons plays in the background.

    Though there’s no new footage in the clip, we are treated to glittery new gallery-style looks from series regulars including Connie Britton, Hayden Panettiere and Charles Esten.

    The cancelled ABC country-music drama will make its CMT debut with a two-hour premiere on Thursday, January 5, at 9/8c. As previously reported, Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz (thirtysomething) will take over as showrunners; star Connie Britton will leave the series after she appears in 10 of the upcoming 22 episodes.

    Nashville Season 5 Scoop: Rayna and Deacon Are "Moving Forward"

    (10/20/16) When Nashville comes back for its fifth season, not only will it have a new home—the show is famously moving to CMT after being canceled by ABC—it'll also have new showrunners, Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick.

    But it won't feel like a completely different series. In fact, the new episodes will feel a little more like the show did in its first season, star Charles Esten promises.

    "I know what Marshall and Ed have in mind also is that slightly more lyrical quality that we started with in the very beginning, and I'm already seeing that in the scenes," the actor and musician dished to E! News at CMT's Seventh Annual Artists of the Year celebration. "The scenes are longer and there's fewer of them so there's more time in between characters."

    In fact, Esten filmed a scene with his TV wife, Connie Britton, the other day, that he really enjoyed. "There's a lot going on, but perhaps not as much super dramatically or an incident, it's just about what's going on between the two of us," he says. "We came through that rough spot and now we get to see Deacon and Rayna moving forward from where we ended up last season. I'm having a ball doing those scenes with her."

    The show is currently in the middle of filming the fifth episode of the season, and there's one change Esten can reveal: "We're going to get more music," he promises.

    While Nashville is a well-oiled machine at this point, don't think the stars are taking their return for granted. "None of that 'we're so glad to be back' has worn off at all," Esten says. "We've always been real grateful for this show. Having lost it for a quick bit, now that we've got it back and we're on CMT we all know how special it is and we're enjoying every moment."

    Nashville returns Thursday, Jan. 5 at 9 p.m. on CMT.

    New Nashville Boss Outlines Season 5 Reboot: Fewer 'Incidents,' Shorter Scripts, Lots More Music

    (10/14/16) (Video) Limber up those toes, because they’ll be doing a lot more tapping when a rebooted Nashville returns in January.

    And that’s not all that will be different when the country-music drama makes its CMT debut, new co-showrunner Marshall Herskovitz says in this exclusive behind-the-scenes video.

    “First thing we mandated was shorter scripts, so there’s time for the music to play out,” says Herskovitz, who will co-showrun the former ABC series along with his thirtysomething/My So-Called Life partner Ed Zwick.

    Also of interest to Nashville fans: Herskovitz vows the drama will focus on “the depth and the complexity of the relationships instead of just feeling you needed to have incident piling on incident.” (Translation: No more shenanigans like Peggy-and-the-pig’s-blood or Deacon-punching-a-dude-even-though-he-knows-doing-so-will-cost-him-his-kid.)

    The featurette gives us a glimpse of some on-set, behind-the-scenes action, featuring cast members Connie Britton, Charles Esten, Clare Bowen, Sam Palladio and Lennon and Maisy Stella.

    “Nashville is the crossroads of the entire music world, not just country music,” Herskovitz also notes, adding that the series will explore more musical styles in episodes to come — which is right in line with Joseph David-Jones’ recent casting as a “modern/eclectic” artist.

    Hayden Panettiere, Charles Esten, Jonathan Jackson and many of their castmates are confirmed to return to the show, though Britton is rumored to be leaving the series after she appears in 10 of the upcoming 22 episodes (Britton addressed said speculation earlier this month at the Emmy Awards).

    The Lionsgate-produced drama will make its CMT debut with a two-hour Season 5 premiere on Thursday, January 5, at 9/8c; episodes will be available to stream on Hulu the next day.

    Nashville Mega Buzz: Maddie's Getting a New Love Interest

    (10/13/16) ( Two new characters were added to Nashville's ever-expanding Season 5 roster last month, and while we know that one is a potentially dangerous Rayna James (Connie Britton) superfan, the other has his eyes on Rayna's oldest daughter Maddie (Lennon Stella) - who, it seems, won't be any less rebellious when the new season gets underway.

    Here's what we know so far: Joseph David-Jones, who's previously appeared on DC's Legends of Tomorrow, is joining the show in a recurring role as Clay, a talented African-American musician in his mid-20s who's charming and outgoing, but also incredibly volatile. Which only serves to make his music that much more compelling.

    But here's what else we've heard: Clay's mood swings might be the result of something deeper than just your typical emotional ups-and-downs. Though he and Maddie come from wildly different socioeconomic backgrounds, they find common ground in music. And while the idea of dating a "bad boy" may appeal to Maddie initially... she's going to be in for a lot more than she bargained for.

    Lennon and Maisy Make Billboard‘s “Under 21” List

    (10/11/16) ( You may not hear sisters Lennon and Maisy‘s music in heavy rotation on country radio yet, but Billboard has already included them on their list billed as “21 Under 21 2016: Music’s Hottest Young Stars.”

    They are among the youngest, for sure, because little sister Maisy Stella is only 12 and Lennon is only 17.

    Part of their appeal is that they can act as well as sing. The two sisters play two sisters — Maddie and Daphne Conrad — on the hit TV show Nashville.

    Another is that before that show came along, the Stella girls had already become famous on YouTube for their wide range of covers songs from a variety of genres, like “Call Your Girlfriend,” “Lean On,” “Boom Clap,” “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” and “Ho Hey.”

    When the girls had the chance to perform their version of the Lumineers’ “Ho Hey” on the Nashville, they made it onto Billboard‘s hot country songs chart. And an original song they did on the show, “A Life That’s Good,” written by Ashley Monroe and Sarah Siskind, also made it onto the same chart.

    Even though the sisters are not being billed as a straight-up country duo, their parents Brad and MaryLynne have their own country duo called the Stellas. They moved from Toronto to Nashville when Lennon and Maisy were very young and have been writing, recording and touring ever since. They even made an appearance on Nashville last December.

    The fifth season of Nashville premieres Jan. 5 on CMT.

    'Nashville' Enlists 'Undateable' Alum Bridgit Mendler for Recurring Role

    (10/7/16) ( Nashville is adding another new face for season.

    Undateable grad Bridgit Mendler has landed a recurring role on the upcoming fifth season of the country music drama, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

    Mendler will play Ashley Wilkenson, an internet sensation with 30 million viewers who is about to record her first album. Sexy, self-assured and stubborn, Ashley is extremely talented. But underneath her certainty is a well of vulnerability.

    Mendler first rose to fame on the Disney Channel, first recurring on Wizards of Waverly Place before going onto star in the sitcom Good Luck Charlie. Her other credits include the NBC comedy Undateable, House and Muppets Most Wanted.

    In addition to her acting career, Mendler is known for her musical talents. She released her first studio album, Hello My Name Is… in 2012 and is getting ready to release a new EP, Nemesis, on Nov. 18. She is repped by Gersh.

    Mendler is one of several new additions coming to Nashville. Looking star Murray Bartlett, Legends of Tomorrow alum Joseph David-Jones, Jen Richards (I Am Cait) and Grammy winner Rhiannon Giddens of the group Carolina Chocolate Drops are also set to recur on the upcoming fifth season.

    They come to the ensemble following the exits of former series regulars Will Chase and Aubrey Peeples. The upcoming fifth season marks the country music drama's first on CMT, following four seasons on ABC. CMT and Hulu, which will stream episodes the day after they air, joined forces to resurrect the series in June, one month after it was canceled by ABC.

    Nashville, which is co-produced by Lionsgate, ABC Studios and Opry Entertainment, also will welcome new showrunners this season in Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick (thirtysomething, My So-Called Life).

    Nashville returns with a two-hour premiere on Thursday, Jan. 5 at 9 p.m. on CMT.

    ‘Queen Sugar’: Monica Macer Joins As Showrunner For Season 2 Of OWN Drama

    (10/6/16) Former Nashville co-executive producer Monica Macer has joined breakout new OWN drama series Queen Sugar as executive producer and showrunner for Season 2.

    The current first season of the well reviewed series, created/executive produced by Ava DuVernay and executive produced by Oprah Winfrey, was showrun by DuVernay and Melissa Carter. With DuVernay set to direct A Wrinkle in Time, OWN and Queen Sugar producer Warner Horizon Television decided to bring in Macer to take the reins for next season.

    Queen Sugar, which airs Wednesdays, scored the highest-rated two-night premiere in OWN history with its September opener.

    “I am delighted that Monica is joining the Queen Sugar family, adding her unique voice and creative vision to the Bordelon siblings’ journey for season two,” said DuVernay. “With our successful series launch well underway, we are fortunate to be able to include Monica as we prepare for all of the great things to come in the next season.”

    Based on the book of the same name by Natalie Baszile, the contemporary drama Queen Sugar chronicles the lives and loves of the estranged Bordelon siblings in Saint Josephine, Louisiana: Nova (Rutina Wesley), a world-wise journalist and activist; Charley (Dawn-Lyen Gardner), the savvy wife and manager of a professional basketball star; and Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe), a formerly incarcerated young father in search of redemption. After a family tragedy, the Bordelons must navigate the triumphs and struggles of their complicated lives in order to run an ailing sugarcane farm in the New South.

    “We are incredibly proud of the success of Queen Sugar and happy to welcome Monica to the team as we embark on season two,” said Erik Logan, President, OWN. “She brings tremendous storytelling experience to the table, and will be a great addition to the show.”

    Macer most recently served as co-executive producer on VH1’s upcoming drama series The Breaks. Prior to that, she was a co-executive producer on Nashville, and wrote a number of episodes over the past three seasons on ABC (including co-writing the 2016 winter premiere). Macer’s series credits also include NBC’s Deception, Fox’s Prison Break and ABC’s Lost.

    Macer is repped by ICM Partners, Rain Management and Del Shaw Moonves.

    Nashville's Kyle Dean Massey Weds Boyfriend Taylor Frey in Palm Springs

    (10/6/16) (Pic1, Pic2, Pic3, Pic4, Pic5) Sorry, Nashville fans — this country heartthrob is taken!

    Kyle Dean Massey, who stars as openly gay singer-songwriter Kevin Bicks on the hit series, tied the knot with his real-life boyfriend Taylor Frey in Palm Springs, California, on Saturday. Frey is also an actor who has appeared in such projects as The Carrie Diaries, Days of Our Lives, G.B.F. and more recently Gabriele Muccino’s Summertime, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival last month.

    PEOPLE can exclusively reveal photos of the happy couple’s stunning sunset ceremony, which took place at a private residence. The garden was surrounded by rosemary bushes and citrus trees, and the ceremony took place in front of a fountain in the garden, decorated with floating candles and rose petals.

    The nuptials were officiated by Frey’s brother Travis, and Massey and Frey’s mothers walked them separately down the aisle. West End and Broadway star Scarlett Strallen performed a song during the ceremony.

    The reception took place outside, in the backyard of the residence — and it lasted until about 2 a.m., when guests finally retreated from the dance floor.

    The cake was made by Frey’s mother, and the signature drink was a rosemary-infused lemon vodka cocktail — made with rosemary from the actual garden where the wedding took place!

    The couple’s families stayed at L’Horizon Resort & Spa in Palm Springs.

    Massey, 34, will be back on the small screen when Nashville returns in January.

    After the show’s cancellation by ABC back in May, Nashville was picked up by CMT to be continued under new showrunners Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick (Thirtysomething).

    A full 22 episodes have been ordered, which will premiere on CMT before becoming available on Hulu the next day.

    Nashville season 5 is set to premiere Jan. 5 on CMT.

    Co-Ed Special Forces Team Drama From ‘Nashville’ EPs Lands At ABC With Penalty

    (10/4/16) In the first broadcast development season since the Pentagon in December allowed women to serve in front-line U.S. military combat units, ABC is tackling the subject with a soapy drama from former Nashville executive producers Meredith Lavender and Marcie Ulin.

    The project, from 20th Century Fox TV, landed at ABC with a script commitment plus significant penalty that could qualify as a put pilot.

    Written/executive produced by Lavender and Ulin based on their idea, the untitled ensemble drama centers on an elite co-ed Special Forces team that will be forced to find a way to navigate both the treacherous waters of their external missions and the equally dangerous undercurrents of tensions — romantic and otherwise — within the unit.

    This is the second major sale for Lavender & Ulin this season. The duo also have put pilot commitment at Fox for a drama series adaptation of Ben Percy’s novel Red Moon, produced by 20th TV and Temple Hill, with James Ponsoldt attached to direct.

    Lavender and Ulin worked on ABC/ABC Studios’ soapy country music drama Nashville for its entire four-season run on the network, rising to executive producers. They are repped by CAA.

    Nashville Books Legends of Tomorrow Alum in Major Season 5 Recurring Role

    (9/29/16) Nashville is adding some much-needed diversity to its Season 5 set list, casting Legends of Tomorrow grad Joseph David-Jones in a major recurring role, TVLine has learned exclusively.

    David-Jones (aka Connor Hawke/Green Arrow on Legends) will play Clay, a creative, self-aware and highly motivated up-and-coming musician who suffers intense mood swings, but is nonetheless charming and outgoing. His musical style is modern/eclectic, with nods to roots African-American music, bluegrass, and even classic country. His casting resulted from a nationwide search that included auditions in New York, Los Angeles and Nashville.

    The cancelled ABC country-music drama will make its CMT debut with a two-hour premiere on Thursday, January 5, at 9/8c (episodes will be available to stream on Hulu the next day).

    As previously reported, Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz (thirtysomething) have taken over as showrunners on the Lionsgate-produced series; Hayden Panettiere, Charles Esten, Jonathan Jackson and many of their castmates are confirmed to return, though rumors abound that star Connie Britton will leave the series after she appears in 10 of the upcoming 22 episodes (Britton addressed said speculation earlier this month at the Emmy Awards).

    Nashville's Rayna Superfan

    (9/29/16) Nashville has cast Cameron Scoggins (Black Box) to play a young Silicon Valley billionaire and obsessive Rayna James superfan in Season 5, reports.

    Hayden Panettiere -- Most Expensive Dog Sitter Lawsuit EVER ... SETTLED

    (9/29/16) Hayden Panettiere better think twice the next time she pawns off a couple dogs for 6 years ... at least that's the takeaway after she settled up with her former dog sitter.

    You'll recall Tia Brooks sued Hayden back in July in a bizarre case. Hayden got 2 rescues and left them with a dog sitter for 6 YEARS, paying a whopping $119,335.88. Seriously.

    But Hayden claimed the dog sitter was a crook, giving the pooches away but pretending she was still caring for them and billing all the while.

    Brooks claimed everything she did was kosher and turned around and sued Hayden for the $8,500 balance she said was owed.

    We've learned the case quietly settled. They split the doggie in half and Hayden paid Brooks $4,250.

    Nashville Cast, New EP Talk Season 5 on CMT: 'It Feels Better'

    (9/22/16) (Video) Is the Nashville cast happy to be back at work on a CMT-bound Season 5? Based on an exuberant new behind-the-scenes video recently released by the cable network, you bet your boots they are.

    “Well, I never had a doubt for a second,” star Charles Esten says of the country-music drama’s prospects once ABC cancelled it in May, but he can barely get the sentence out before dissolving in laughter. And he’s not the only one in a very good mood: Castmates Clare Bowen, Sam Palladio, Jonathan Jackson and Lennon and Maisy Stella — as well as series creator Callie Khouri and new co-showrunner Marshall Herskovitz — wax excited about the upcoming season throughout the two-minute clip.

    “It kinda feels, in some ways, like a new show,” Jackson says.

    “Honestly, I think it feels better,” Lennon Stella adds.

    The video also makes sure to address a few top fan concerns: This season — which will premiere on Thursday, Jan. 5., at 9/8c — will have fewer characters, more of a focus on music and longer scenes.

    Not pictured in the promo: Hayden Panettiere, new hires like Jen Richards, and Herskovitz’s fellow new showunner Ed Zwick. However, you can get a glimpse of the possibly-eventually departing? Connie Britton if you look real close. (Hint: She’s wearing a baseball cap.)

    Nashville Season 5: Looking Fave Joins Cast... as Will's New Love?

    (9/22/16) Is Nashville eyeing a love triangle for the out-and- (finally) proud Will?

    Presenting Exhibit A: Looking‘s Murray Bartlett is joining the CMT series’ upcoming fifth season in a major recurring role, TVLine has learned. Exhibit B: His character, named (for real) Jakob Fine, is described as “a very handsome, charismatic and successful men’s fashion designer.” Exhibit C: See Exhibit A and B and smush them together.

    A Nashville source declined to say if Bartlett is being introduced as a love interest for Chris Carmack’s Will, but the insider confirms that the two characters will cross paths. Keep in mind that in the then-ABC drama’s Season 4 finale, Will reunited with Kevin (played by Kyle Dean Massey, who is expected to return in some capacity.)

    Nashville will make its CMT debut with a special two-hour episode on Thursday, Jan. 5 at 9/8c.

    Connie Britton on Nashville Exit Talk: 'What I Can Tell You Is… '

    (9/19/19) (Video) Could it be that we’ve all counted out Rayna James just a little too soon?

    Though it’s been widely reported that Connie Britton will be leaving Nashville midway through Season 5 (the former ABC drama’s first on CMT), “I don’t know where that stuff came from,” the actress told TVLine’s Michael Ausiello Sunday on the Emmy red carpet. “It’s kind of crazy the things that come out.”

    While neither confirming her early exit from the series nor really denying it, Britton did state unequivocally that, with thirtysomething alumni Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz having taken over as showrunners, the musical drama was heading into “the best season we’ve ever had” with “the best writing we’ve ever seen.”

    Nashville Adds I Am Cait's Jen Richards

    (9/13/16) A world of hurt is coming one Nashville character’s way. Luckily, Jen Richards will be there to help with the aftermath.

    The transgender actress/writer, who appeared on E!’s I Am Cait, will recur in the upcoming fifth season as Allyson Del Lago, CMT announced Tuesday. According to the official character description, Allyson is a “tough but understanding physical therapist” who helps one of the series-regular characters “through one of their most difficult challenges.”

    In addition, Allyson will be the first transgender character to appear on the network. Her previous credits include the Web series Her Story.

    The former ABC drama also recently cast Carolina Chocolate Drops’ Rhiannon Giddens as the angelically voiced social worker Hanna Lee “Hallie” Jordan.

    Nashville will make its CMT debut with a two-hour series premiere on Thursday, Jan. 5, at 9/8c.

    ABC Nabs ‘American Heritage’ Primetime Soap From Amy Pascal & ‘Nashville’ Writer

    (9/8/16) In one of the first big broadcast TV sales for Amy Pascal’s Pascal Pictures, ABC has nabbed American Heritage with a script commitment plus significant penalty that often qualifies as a put pilot. The multi-generational soap, written by Nashville co-executive producer Taylor Hamra, hails from Sony Pictures TV via Pascal Pictures’ overall deal with parent Sony Pictures Entertainment.

    American Heritage is about two families of vastly different cultures who suddenly collide when they realize their histories aren’t so dissimilar after all and are forced to work together to run LA’s premier real estate company.

    Hamra executive produces with Pascal Pictures’ Amy Pascal and Rachel O’Connor.

    Launched in 2015, Pascal Pictures has been putting together TV projects in addition to its movie portfolio. Earlier this year, in a very competitive situation with five TV studios pursuing, the company and Sony TV landed the rights to Thomas Mullen’s upcoming novel Darktown, partnering with Jamie Foxx to produce the drama drama adaptation. Pascal Pictures also has acquired the rights to Eve Babitz’s memoirs through Sony TV’s TriStar Television.

    Hamra has solid primetime soap background, with co-executive producer stints on ABC’s Nashville and TNT’s Dallas. He is repped by CAA and attorney Bruce Gellman.

    Chris Carmack and Erin Slaver Welcome a Daughter

    (9/2/16) (Pic) Nashville star Chris Carmack and his fiancée Erin Slaver are proud parents to a baby girl.

    Slaver took to Instagram on Thursday to share a sweet message as a new mom.

    “In my life, I never imagined I’d experience something so beautiful,” she wrote in a post showing her baby girl laying on her chest.

    “I couldn’t have made it through naturally without @britteanderson and @realcarmack by my side. We are completely in love with our 2 day old, sweet baby girl.”

    Carmack, 35, and Slaver met on the set of the show when Slaver appeared as one of Juliette Barnes’s (Hayden Panettiere) backup singers. They announced their engagement in March.

    Carmack’s EP Pieces of You was released in December 2015, and Nashville returns Jan. 5 at 9 p.m. ET on CMT.

    Grammy Winner Rhiannon Giddens Cast In Recurring Role

    (9/1/16) Singer-songwriter Rhiannon Giddens, co-founder of the Grammy-winning string band Carolina Chocolate Drops, has been cast in a recurring role on CMT’s upcoming fifth season of country music drama Nashville.

    Giddens will play Hanna “Hallie” Jordan, a young social worker who turns out to have the voice of an angel.

    Giddens tweeted a photo from the table read today with co-star Charles Esten.

    Giddens, who also plays banjo and fiddle in Carolina Chocolate Drops, began gaining recognition as a solo artist when she stole the show at the T Bone Burnett-produced “Another Day, Another Time” concert at New York City’s Town Hall in 2013. Her acclaimed solo debut album, Tomorrow Is My Turn, blends American musical genres such as gospel, jazz, blues and country. She i working on her follow-up album to be released in 2017.

    Produced by Lionsgate, ABC Studios and Opry Entertainment, Nashville makes its Season 5 debut January 5 on CMT with Thirtysomething creators Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz at the helm. Nashville is executive produced by Herskovitz, Zwick, Steve Buchanan and Callie Khouri. Jayson Dinsmore and Morgan Selzer executive produce for CMT.

    ‘Nashville’ Is Back At Work On Season 5 — Tweets First Photos

    (9/1/16) Nashville is officially back at work at its new home on CMT. The show tweeted out the first pics as production kicked off today. The images feature the front page of the script for an episode titled “The Wayfaring Stranger” as well a pic of a few of cast members at the table read.

    @NashvilleCMT (Photo): It's the day we've been waiting for, #Nashies... WE'RE BACK! #NashvilleCMT

    @NashvilleCMT (Photo): There's no better place to kick off the season than in a room full of our favorite people! #NashvilleCMT

    @NashvilleCMT (Photo): Alright #Scunnar fans, what do we think Season 5 has in store for these two?! #NashvilleCMT @clarembee @SamPalladio

    Notably missing in the pics are stars Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere. We previously reported that Britton (Rayna James) has committed to only a limited number of episodes of Nashville‘s 22-episode Season 5 order. Britton’s long-term future on the show also appears to be up in the air.

    Nashville Season 5 will premiere with a two-hour episode on January 5, 2017 on CMT.

    Peter Facinelli & Others Pump ‘Heartthrob’; Chloe Lukasiak Digs ‘Loophole’

    (8/31/16) Peter Facinelli, Keir Gilchrist, Aubrey Peeples, Ione Skye, Jimmy Bennett, Felicity Price and Taylor Dearden are cast in Heartthrob, an indie from writer-director Chris Sivertson. The film is described as a teen romance that spirals out of control and becomes a teen thriller, but details of the plot and the characters were not provided. Production is under way on the feature from Citizen Skull Productions, which also features Jimmy Bennett. Mark Myers and Michael Moran are producing Heartthrob, with Fernando Szew exec producing. Facinelli is repped by APA and Primary Wave.

    Dance Moms alum Chloe Lukasiak has landed a lead role in Loophole, an indie from JCFilms. She will play a college student caught in a centuries-old battle of good versus evil, and her bloodline is the key to unleash destruction upon the world or destroy the evil forever. Loophole also stars Scott Whyte as the watcher sent to protect the young woman, and Chantelly Barry is an investigative journalist whose timely arrival could save the woman in her time of need. An actress, dancer and model, Lukasiak appeared in the recent Lifetime telefilm Center Stage: On Pointe and has wrapped filming on the feature Cowgirl’s Story. She is repped by APA and managed by Primary Wave Entertainment.

    Connie Britton Eyes Early Nashville Exit

    (8/24/16) Nashville fans, start singing the blues in 3, 2, 1…

    Sources confirm to TVLine that Connie Britton is poised to exit the drama’s upcoming fifth season on CMT after appearing in just 10 of 22 episodes, TVLine has confirmed. It’s unclear at this time how her character, Rayna James, will be written off the show. was first to report Britton’s reduced workload.

    A source close to the show, meanwhile, tells TVLine that negotiations with the Friday Night Lights vet on the length of her Season 5 commitment are ongoing.

    The cancelled ABC country-music drama will make its CMT debut with a two-hour premiere on Thursday, January 5, at 9/8c. As previously reported, Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz (thirtysomething) have taken over as showrunners.

    Meanwhile, fellow leading lady Hayden Panettiere, whose character Juliette’s fate was left hanging in the balance in the Season 4 finale, is expected back for all 22 episodes. The same holds true for co-stars Charles Esten, Sam Palladio, Jonathan Jackson, Clare Bowen, Lennon Stella, Maisy Stella and Chris Carmack. Will Chase and Aubrey Peeples, who played Luke and Layla, respectively, will not be back as series regulars.

    Nashville Season 5 Premiere Set at CMT

    (8/24/16) Nashville‘s comeback tour will kick off just after the new year.

    The cancelled ABC country-music drama will make its CMT debut with a two-hour premiere on Thursday, January 5, at 9/8c, the cable network announced Wednesday.

    As previously reported, Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz (thirtysomething) will take over as showrunners; Connie Britton, Hayden Panettiere, Charles Esten, Jonathan Jackson and many of their castmates are confirmed to return.

    We hear that the proposed Nashville after-show is still a possibility, as well, even though it was not included in the network’s announcement.It’s safe to assume that Nashville‘s season-opener will deal with the cliffhanger that ended the drama’s ABC run: Divorced parents Avery and Juliette were on the verge of reconciliation… just before her private jet went missing. (A happier ending was shot, but Lionsgate and ABC Studios convinced the network to use the more ambiguous outcome, in hopes of making the drama more attractive to potential buyers.)

    In addition, CMT also announced that its series adaptation of the Broadway musical Million Dollar Quartet, starring Chad Michael Murray (One Tree Hill), will premiere sometime in March and that the Billy Ray Cyrus scripted series Still the King will return for Season 2 in the spring.

    The network also has ordered a pilot for the soapy comedy His Wives & Daughters, which follows “the eclectic and cunning wives and daughters of larger-than-life country-music legend (and infamous womanizer) Eddie Ray Banks.” The potential series is created and produced by Dina Chapman (Tia & Tamera) and Steve Sessions (Still the King).

    New Season of Nashville Coming to Thursdays in January on CMT

    (8/24/16) It’s the news #Nashies have been waiting for!

    The fifth season of Nashville will kick off with a two-hour premiere on Thursday, Jan. 5 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

    Nashville is set against the backdrop of the city’s music scene and follows Rayna Jaymes and Juliette Barnes. Both women face personal and professional challenges as they navigate their paths as artists and individuals. Surrounding them and often complicating their lives are their family, friends and, in some cases, lovers, as well as the up-and-coming performers and songwriters trying to get ahead in the business. Music City can mean so many things to different people.

    In Nashville, musicians and songwriters are at the heart of the storm driven by their own ambitions. Some are fueled by their creativity and passion for fame. Others struggle to cope with the pressures of success and are doing everything in their power to stay on top.

    Also joining CMT’s scripted lineup is Million Dollar Quartet (working title), which will premiere in March. Set in Memphis during the tumultuous early days of the civil rights movement, the eight-part limited-run series tells the untold true story of nothing less than the birth of rock ‘n’ roll. Guided by Sam Phillips, young musicians like Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis combined the styles of hillbilly country with 1950s R&B and changed the course of music forever.

    The all-star cast includes Chad Michael Murray as Sun Records founder Sam Phillips, Billy Gardell as Presley and Arnold’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker, Drake Milligan as Elvis Presley, Kevin Fonteyne as Johnny Cash, Christian Lees as Jerry Lee Lewis, Jonah Lees as Jimmy Swaggart, Trevor Donovan as Eddy Arnold, Keir O’Donnell as Dewey Phillips, Jennifer Holland as Sam’s wife Becky Phillips and Margaret Anne Florence as Sam’s assistant Marion Keisker.

    Million Dollar Quartet will also be joined this spring by season 2 of the hit show Still The King, which won over fans this past summer. The comedy centers on Vernon Brown, played by Billy Ray Cyrus, a scandal-ridden washed up one-hit wonder who is kicked out of country music, only to emerge 20 years later as the second-best Elvis impersonator. In Season 1, he re-connected with a former one-night-stand, played by Joey Lauren Adams, only to discover he has a 15-year-old daughter he’s never met, played by Madison Iseman.

    Additionally, CMT has ordered a pilot for His Wives & Daughters. The soapy, comedic series centers on the eclectic and cunning wives and daughters of larger-than-life country music legend (and infamous womanizer) Eddie Ray Banks. After his estranged family is brought together unexpectedly, tempers flare and old rivalries resurface setting the stage for startling secrets to emerge as an unforgettable mystery begins to unfold. Casting is underway now with production slated to begin in the fall.

    Be sure to follow CMT on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest updates on all of our shows, and don’t miss the season premieres of I Love Kellie Pickler and Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making The Team on Thursday (Aug. 25).

    Laura Benanti on Expecting Her First Child After a Miscarriage: ‘I Was Really Scared’

    (8/19/16) Tony winner Laura Benanti and her husband Patrick Brown recently told the world they are expecting their first child — a baby girl, due this winter.

    It was happy news for the couple, who married in November 2015 and suffered a miscarriage almost a year ago.

    “I was so worried and also really scared during the first trimester,” the 37-year-old Supergirl actress tells PEOPLE of getting pregnant after her loss. “I was really scared, all the time.”

    Benanti’s fears were also met with a severe form of morning sickness, which plagued her throughout her first trimester.

    “I don’t know what man named it morning sickness,” she jokes. “It’s the most ridiculous term I have ever heard. It should be called just ’24/7, Never Get a Break’ sickness.

    “It was really rough,” she continues. “I was throwing up multiple times a day, and really dehydrated. I was barely functioning as a human.”

    At the time, Benanti was busier than ever and working nights when the nausea was at its worst. She was leading the Broadway revival of She Loves Me, for which she received a Tony nomination. Also starring Zachary Levi and Jane Krakowski, the limited-run production was wrapping up its last few months, culminating in a live-streamed performance for the whole world to see.

    She was also making headlines with her Melania Trump impression on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

    Benanti’s doctor quickly told her she needed to rest, which she obliged by dropping down to six shows a week from the usual eight.

    “When my doctor was like, ‘This is nuts — you need to take care of yourself,’ I wasn’t like, ‘Well, the show must go on!’ ” the actress and singer explains. “I was like, ‘No, I’m a human being, and I had a miscarriage and I don’t want another one.’ So I really made my pregnancy a priority.”

    “I’m really grateful for where we are now,” she adds. “Everything’s great and looks healthy. But still — still in the back of my mind, I’m like, ‘Oh gosh, please let everything be okay.’ ”

    After Benanti suffered her miscarriage last year, she felt helpless and alone. But when she started talking to close friends about what had happened, she was surprised to learn they too had experienced the loss. That news frustrated Benanti.

    She confesses, “It started to make me feel angry that there’s some deep-seated misogyny in our culture where women are not allowed to mourn the loss of their pregnancy. I felt like the only thing that would make me feel a tiny bit less crazy about losing my pregnancy was feeling like perhaps I could help other women not feel alone because I felt so alone.”

    So Benanti penned an op-ed about the miscarriage in The Huffington Post. The piece became widely read online, and was even translated into other languages for a global audience to read.

    Many praised Benanti for being honest about her dark time.

    “I was overwhelmed by the response,” she says. “I didn’t know who would read it, and I am so grateful to be part of that conversation. I hope me being pregnant after can be inspirational for a woman who perhaps had just gone through a miscarriage and wonders if she’ll ever get pregnant.”

    Looking back on it, Benanti feels the tough time better prepared her to be a mother.

    “It was for sure the worst thing to ever happen to me — and I’ve had some pretty s—– things happen to me,” she says, laughing. “But sometimes I think of it as like tenderizing meat: If you get banged up enough, it makes you soft.”

    Benanti continues, “I do think it makes me more empathetic to other people and what they might be going through. I feel like we have a choice to either allow life to break us down and make it hard, or we can try to gather ourselves and be kind to other people.”

    Though she’s taking some time off, Benanti will still be plenty busy. She has a string of concert engagements coming up across the country, including dates during her third trimester at the D.C.’s Kennedy Center in December. (“They’re going to have to get a crane to lift me onto the stage,” she jokes.)

    She’s also hard at work on her first book of essays: I Stole Your Boyfriend, and Other Monster Acts on My Way to Becoming a Human Woman, out sometime next year.

    As for the “24/7, Never Get a Break” sickness, Benanti says that’s gotten better — though she still hasn’t been craving anything. Well, other than pizza.

    “I always want to eat that,” she says. “Certain smells just send me into a tailspin — just any food smell other than pizza. Basically, anything that’s not pizza makes me want to barf.”

    The food aversions have been a roller coaster for Brown, whom Benanti calls “calm, even-keeled, kind, supportive and genuinely the best person.”

    “I’ll ask him, ‘Can you get me blah blah blah?’ And he’ll go get it and bring it back and I’ll be like, ‘Get that out of my face, I hate you, what’s wrong with you?’ So there’s that,” she jokes.

    Will Chase has joined ABC’s drama Time After Time

    (8/16/16) Ex-Nashville star Will Chase has joined ABC’s new Kevin Williamson drama Time After Time as a series regular, reports.

    Nashville Creator Teases Season 5 Premiere Date on CMT

    (8/12/16) Christmas may be coming early for Nashville fans.

    Series creator Callie Khouri allegedly announced at tonight’s Grant Ole Opry concert, which counted Nashville star Charles Esten among its headliners, that the ex-ABC drama would launch its fifth season on CMT and Hulu this December.

    When reached for comment, a CMT spokesperson, however, maintained to TVLine that a Season 5 premiere date had not been set.

    CMT announced in early June that it had officially ordered a 22-episode fifth season of the Connie Britton-Hayden Panettiere musical soap in the wake of the show’s surprising cancellation at ABC. As part of the deal, Hulu will stream each episode the day after it airs on the cable network.

    With the exception of Will Chase and Aubrey Peeples, who played Luke and Layla, respectively, the entire cast — including Britton and Panettiere — will be back for Season 5. Thirtysomething‘s Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick, meanwhile, have replaced Dee Johnson as showrunner.

    Actress Laura Benanti is expecting a baby girl

    (8/11/16) Tony-winning actress Laura Benanti is pregnant, news that comes nearly a year after she shared her heartbreaking story of suffering a miscarriage.

    Benanti and husband Patrick Brown are expecting a baby girl this winter.

    Benanti, 37, announced the happy news via social media on Thursday with a photo of the couple reading the quintessential parenting book “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” “Patrick and I doing some light summer reading,” Coming this winter…#BabyGirlBrown!!!!” the excited mom-to-be wrote.

    Last fall, Benanti penned an essay for The Huffington Post, about dealing with her loss, to create an open forum for discussion.

    “… If this is so common, then why do we only speak about it in whispers, if we speak about it at all? If this is so common, why does it feel like the Voldemort of women’s issues? The ‘M’ that must not be named,” wrote the TV and Broadway star.

    She continued, “Why, if my neighbor sees me looking sad and asks me if I am okay, is it perfectly acceptable to tell her my aunt passed away, or I lost my job, or I had to put my dog down — but if I tell her I experienced a miscarriage, I am somehow inappropriately oversharing?”

    Benanti and Brown got married last year.

    Nashville Mega Buzz: Rayna Meets a Wealthy Superfan — But Is He Bad News?

    (8/9/16) ( When Nashville returns for its fifth season on CMT, Rayna James (Connie Britton) will be trying to get her groove back. Her career as a performer has taken a back seat to running a record label, but not for long!

    We hear that Rayna will cross paths with a young app developer (TV shorthand for "money to burn") who also happens to be a superfan. He wants to introduce Rayna's music to a whole new generation, but he has other, more nefarious plans for her. Our advice to Rayna? Tread lightly around this one.

    Chloe Sevigny, Salma Hayek And Jay Duplass Join ‘Beatriz At Dinner’

    (8/1/16) Chloe Sevigny, Salma Hayek and Jay Duplass have joined indie pic Beatriz at Dinner, written by Mike White and to be directed by Miguel Arteta. The story follows a holistic medicine practitioner who finds herself a fish out of water when her car breaks down at a wealthy client’s house and she joins a celebratory dinner party. Also in the cast are John Lithgow, Nino Arianda and Connie Britton.

    Christine Vachon’s Killer Films produces alongside Bron Studios. This is the type of upmarket yet accessible fare that Vachon has excelled at steering in the past, including last year’s critically acclaimed Carol with Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. She has reunited with that film’s director Todd Haynes on Wonderstruck, with Julianne Moore, which Amazon is financing. The script for Wonderstruck is said to have wowed buyers.

    Bron Studios is also having a banner year, with Nate Parker’s Sundance smash The Birth of a Nation gearing up for a fall launch that could see it juggernaut its way through awards season. The Canadian company also has Denzel Washington-directed Fences in post as well as Adam Wood’s Henchmen with Rosario Dawson and James Marsden.

    The award-winning actress Sevigny, who Deadline revealed was joining Andrew Haigh’s Lean on Pete, can currently be seen in Whit Stillman’s ecstatically reviewed Love and Friendship opposite Kate Beckinsale. She also stars in Netflix original series Bloodline. Sevigny recently made her directorial debut on the shirt film Kitty, about a little girl who dreams of being a kitten, which preemed to good notices at Cannes earlier this year.

    Sevigny also has a trio of projects in the pipelines: Universal’s The Snowman, opposite Michael Fassbender; Oren Moverman’s The Dinner, which stars Gere and also Charlie Plummer as well as Alex Ross Perry’s Golden Exits. She is repped by Brillstein Entertainment Partners and WME.

    Salma Hayek has Drunk Parents, also for Bron Studios, with Alec Baldwin in post as well as Ken Marino’s How to be a Latin Lover and The Hitman’s Bodyguard, opposite Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L Jackson, in the pipelines. She is repped by CAA and Management 360. Jay Duplass is working his way through his four picture deal with Netflix alongside brother Mark, including Manson Family Vacation. He also has a number of other features in various stages, including Gillian Robespierre’s Landline, Greg Kinnear’s Phil, and Jeffrey Blitz’s Table 19. He is repped by ICM Partners.

    Connie Britton, Jane Fonda Join Rachel Platten in Pitch Perfect-Inspired 'Fight Song' for Hillary Clinton

    (7/27/16) (Video) Rachel Platten was joined by the stars of Nashville, Modern Family and Pitch Perfect on Tuesday in support of presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

    Connie Britton, Julie Bowen and Jesse Tyler Ferguson were among the many celebrities to partake in an a capella music video for “Fight Song” that debuted during the Democratic National Convention.

    The video, which was produced by Pitch Perfect alum Elizabeth Banks, also featured the likes of Jane Fonda (Grace & Frankie), Kristin Chenoweth (American Gods), Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives), America Ferrera (Superstore), Mandy Moore (This Is Us), Idina Menzel (Frozen), Aisha Tyler (The Talk), Mary McCormack (In Plain Sight), Alan Cumming (The Good Wife), Kathy Najimy (Veep), Jamie King (Hart of Dixie), Rob Reiner (All in the Family) and John Michael Higgins (Pitch Perfect), among others.

    Will Chase Joins HBO Porn Drama The Deuce for Arc

    (7/26/16) Will Chase… porn star?!

    The Nashville actor has booked a multi-episode arc on HBO’s forthcoming porn-themed period drama The Deuce, TVLine has learned exclusively.

    Written by Wire creator David Simon and frequent collaborator George Pelecanos, the series — which stars James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal — chronicles the legalization and subsequent rise of the porn industry in New York’s Times Square from the early 1970s through the mid-1980s.

    HBO confirmed Chase’s casting but declined to provide details on his character. As TVLine reported last month, Chase will not be returning to Nashville as a regular when the series segues from ABC to CMT later this year. The Smash alum can currently be seen channeling William Shakespeare in Broadway’s Something Rotten!

    Hayden Panettiere -- My Dog Sitter is a Dirty Dog

    (7/21/16) (Pic1, Pic2) Hayden Panettiere claims the woman to whom she paid a queen's ransom for dog sitting services not only grossly overbilled her ... she gave her dogs away.

    The dog fight began when Tia Brooks filed a lawsuit against Hayden for more than $8,500 for unpaid services.

    Hayden fired back with a letter from legal pit bull Marty Singer, who accused Tia of giving the 2 dogs away and then having the nerve to continue charging for her services.

    Turns out Hayden rescued the 2 rescue pooches ... Zander, a Rottie/Lab mix, and Xena, a Lab/Pit Bull mix. The arrangement was Hayden would pay Tia $30 a day until Hayden could find a permanent home for the dogs.

    Singer claims Tia put an ad on Craigslist last month, found a home but continued billing. Tia disputes it and says her bills were all legit.

    Get this ... according to Singer's letter, Tia's been caring for the dogs for 6 years, charging a grand total of $119,335.88!!! As for how the bill got so high, Singer claims, in addition to the daily fee, Tia tacked on all sorts of extras, including dog bones, bug spray, tick control, dog beds and other stuff.

    Tia tells us a big chunk of the money was for vet bills after one of the dogs got really sick.

    It's expensive to be a dog in L.A.

    Laura Benanti Plays Melania Trump on Colbert

    (7/20/16) Laura Benanti Plays Melania Trump on Colbert, Defends RNC Speech With More Borrowed Lines: Video.

    GENERAL HOSPITAL Stars Announce Port Chuck Tour Dates!

    (7/19/16) Port Chuck has reunited, and GENERAL HOSPITAL actors Steve Burton (ex-Jason; Dylan, THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS), Brandon Barash (ex-Johnny), Bradford Anderson (ex-Spinelli), and Scott Reeves (ex-Steve) will be hitting the East Coast for live shows in November!

    After announcing last week that they were getting the band back together, Port Chuck will be kicking off their reunion with a show at Jack and Jameson’s in Franklin, TN, the restaurant Burton owns with Jonathan Jackson (ex-Lucky)!

    Following that, the band will head north to New York and New Jersey, and in addition to the shows there will also be a special cocktail reception and a private dinner for special ticket holders! For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

    Hayden Panettiere Spends Family Time With Wladimir Klitschko and Daughter Kaya

    (7/14/16) (Pic1, Pic2) Hayden Panettiere (Lizzie, GUIDING LIGHT) shared gorgeous photos with Wladimir Klitschko and their daughter Kaya!

    After checking herself back into rehab for postpartum depression back in May, the actress now looks happier and healthier than ever.

    Presumably in response to rumors that she and Klitschko had split when she was seen without her engagement ring, Panettiere wrote, “Missing rings don’t mean the end of relationships. Blessed to be with my beautiful family.”

    Of course, it’s not all smooth sailing with a 19-month-old, as evidenced in this image where poor Kaya is clearly having a moment! “Me,” Panettiere wrote of the pic. “Stuck somewhere between clueless and Russian. Let it out, girl!”

    With Panettiere set to return for the fifth season of NASHVILLE when it returns to TV via CMT, it’s nice to see her back on her feet and ready to tackle anything life throws at her!

    Nashville Stars Announce New Music on Skyville Live

    (7/14/16) ( Wednesday’s (July 13) Skyville Live salute to Music City featured dynamic performances by Chris Carmack, Mark Collie, Lennon & Maisy, J.D. Souther and Pam Tillis plus new music announcements from Clare Bowen and Charles Esten.

    Backed by an all-star band that included Canadian bluesman Colin Linden, each act onstage entertained with two songs and shared special music memories that will forever tie them to Music City, U.S.A.

    Esten and Collie kicked off the night with their duet “Spin the Wheel.” Then Esten delivered the live performance premiere of his new single “Through the Blue,” a song he wrote with Kendell Marvel and Tim James as a reminder that life’s dark times never hang around long. Starting Friday (July 15) with “Through the Blue,” Esten revealed he will release a new single every Friday via iTunes in a new initiative called #EverySingleFriday. The new songs are from a catalog of material he’s written since joining Nashville four seasons ago.

    Next, Bowen revealed she’s been splitting time between the road and the studio and has a full length album in the works. Going barefoot and dressed like an angel in a white tea length dress, she performed her love song “I’m Still Here,” which was inspired by her fiancé Brandon Young. Bowen co-wrote the song with John Paul White, who co-wrote one of Nashville’s earlier hits “If I Didn’t Know Better.”

    Souther dedicated his portion of the show to Linda Ronstadt with “Faithless Love” and the late Glenn Frey with the Eagles classic “Heartache Tonight.” Ronstadt originally recorded “Faithless Love” for her 1974 album Heart Like a Wheel (Glen Campbell also recorded a version for his 1984 album Letter to Home).

    Souther’s story behind writing “Heartache Tonight,” made those watching at home wish they were at the show. At the time Souther and Frey started the classic rock anthem, they were walking around Souther’s pool while on a break from writing another song. Souther had the melody and Frey started clapping. Then Don Henley joined in and then Frey got Bob Seger on the phone to finish the song. And, voilà, a co-write between four rock legends was born.

    Looking a little taller and even more beautiful, Lennon & Maisy entertained with a two-song set that included their airy Charli XCX cover, “Boom Clap” and their version of “Lean On” by Major Lazer and DJ Snake featuring MØ.

    Then Carmack took the stage with the lead single from his Pieces of You EP, “Being Alone,” and proceeded to blow the roof off the place with a naughty blues number called “Sweet Little Angel.”

    Tillis introduced the band and sang a powerful version of “Maybe It Was Memphis.”

    Collie rocked the stage with Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” and shared details on an upcoming documentary about his time bringing live music to inmates as an essential part of their rehabilitation. Before leaving the stage, Collie shared a powerful message in light of the recent tragedies in Dallas and Orlando, Florida.

    “Love your neighbor,” he told the crowd. “Hug your brothers and sisters. And thank a cop for keeping you safe.”

    An inspirational performance of “On the Day I Die” closed his portion of the show. Then Souther returned to the stage to sing “I’ll Be Here at Closing Time,” a song he wrote about an attractive waitress with an alluring walk he noticed once while writing music at a restaurant.

    The night wrapped with the entire lineup singing the Joe Cocker version of “With a Little Help From My Friends.”

    Steve Burton, Brandon Barash, Bradford Anderson, and Scott Reeves Reunite For a New Port Chuck Tour!

    (7/13/16) Steve Burton (Dylan, THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS; ex-Jason, GENERAL HOSPITAL) is getting the band back together!

    Burton has announced that he’s reuniting with Brandon Barash (ex-Johnny, GH), Bradford Anderson (ex-Spinelli, GH), and Scott Reeves (ex-Steve, GH; ex-Ryan, Y&R) to reform their rock band, *Port Chuck and play some shows!

    “These guys coming East!” he tweeted with a photo of the band. “November! Tickets coming soon! Can’t wait!”

    Reeves tweeted his own enthusiasm at not being able to wait to hit the stage again with his bandmates, and Anderson responded with his usual sense of humor: @BfordAnderson: I'm so excited I threw up. My hands!

    We’ll pass along details regarding dates, venues, and how to buy tickets just as soon as that information is released, so stay tuned!

    Hayden Panettiere Shuts Down Relationship Trouble Rumors with Heartwarming Family Photo

    (7/7/16) (Pic) Hayden Panettiere has not split from her fiancé, Wladimir Klitschko.

    On Wednesday, photos surfaced of the actress sitting alone on a stoop reading a book in New York City – sans her engagement ring, prompting speculation that she and the Ukrainian boxing champ were on the outs.

    Panettiere quickly squashed those rumors on Thursday by posting a black-and-white family photo with Klitschko holding their daughter, Kaya, 18 months.

    "Missing rings don't mean the end of relationships," she wrote. "Blessed to be with my beautiful family."

    Panettiere, 26, and Klitschko, 40, began dating in 2009 but split in 2011. They reconciled two years later in early 2013, he popped the question that October and they welcomed Kaya in December of the following year.

    In May, Panettiere announced she was seeking holistic help for her continued struggles with postpartum depression.

    "The postpartum depression I have been experiencing has impacted every aspect of my life," she announced on Twitter at the time. "Rather than stay stuck due to unhealthy coping mechanisms I have chosen to take time to reflect holistically on my health and life."

    It was recently announced that the actress would be returning to Nashville for season 5 when it moves to CMT.

    Hayden Panettiere Steps out Without Her Engagement Ring After Seeking Help for Postpartum Depression

    (7/6/16) (Pic) In May, Hayden Panettiere announced she sought holistic help for her continued struggles with postpartum depression. And nearly two months later, the actress was spotted for the first time in New York City on Monday.

    Dressed in a plaid shirt and blue tights, Panettiere, 26, had her nose in the book Underboss: Sammy The Bull Gravano’s Story of Life in the Mafia while sitting on a stoop and smoking a cigarette. Missing on her left ring finger was her six-carat engagement ring from fiancé Wladimir Klitschko. Panettiere and Klitschko, 40, began dating in 2009 but split in 2011. The pair reconciled two years later in early 2013.

    Recently, Panettiere had called her fiancé one of the “loves of [her] life” during the couple’s beach outing with their child Kaya Evdokia in March.

    The Nashville star first sought treatment for postpartum depression in October 2015 after giving birth to the couple’s daughter, who is now 18 months. Panettiere has never been ashamed to talk about her battle with postpartum depression. “There’s a lot of misunderstanding — there’s a lot of people out there that think it’s not real, that’s it not true, that it’s something that’s made up in their minds, that ‘Oh, it’s hormones,'” she said prior to her very first treatment. “They brush it off. It’s something that’s completely uncontrollable. It’s really painful and it’s really scary and women need a lot of support.”

    And in May, the mother of one tweeted: “The postpartum depression I have been experiencing has impacted every aspect of my life. Rather than stay stuck due to unhealthy coping mechanisms I have chosen to take time to reflect holistically on my health and life.”

    Panettiere’s N.Y.C. outing comes a week after it was reported that she would return to Nashville for season 5 when it moves to CMT. Panettiere is expected to reprise her role as Juliette Barnes, who also suffered from postpartum on the show, along with series regular Connie Britton.

    Chris Carmack’s Real-Life Romantic Side

    (7/5/16) ( Will Lexington is marrying one of Juliette Barnes’ backup singers. Wait. Let me rephrase that. Chris Carmack, who plays Will on Nashville, is marrying Erin Slaver, who played one of the Hayden Panettiere’s (Juliette) backup singers in the first two seasons.

    That makes much better sense.

    And Carmack recently opened up about how he proposed to Slaver, who also plays the fiddle in Sam Palladio’s (Gunnar) real-life band.

    After they met, and fell quickly in love, Carmack had Slaver get all dressed up, then he took her out in New York City back in March.

    “I proposed on a rooftop at a hotel in New York,” Carmack told People. “I hired a little gypsy jazz quartet to play some of our favorite songs,”

    Slaver has a Bachelor’s in Music from Stony Brook University in Albany, New York, and she is currently touring as the fiddler in the JD & The Straight Shot band.

    Carmack’s role on Nashville has turned into much more than a job. “This job is far and away the most special job that I’ve had in my career,” he said. “I’ve made very close friends, we’ve had incredible adventures and journeys, we’ve gone on tours across the United States with the music.”

    “Country is one of the more recent explorations I’ve had,” he adds, “but I’ve been living in Music City now for three and a half years and I got a pretty good education.”

    How Chris Carmack Turned His Role on Nashville into a Music Career – and His Happily Ever After

    (6/30/16) (Listen) Chris Carmack was once best known for his jock character's line, "Welcome to The O.C., bitch!" Nowadays, he's more synonymous with Nashville than Newport, and he's taking that country vibe off-screen.

    The Nashville actor's role on the show has had some influence on his real life. But even though Carmack recently released his EP Pieces of You, but country music wasn't always on his radar.

    "I've always wanted to sing and play. My first love was jazz," Carmack, 35, tells PEOPLE. "I played jazz sax and then I started playing blues guitar, and from there branched out into some other genres."

    "Country is one of the more recent explorations I've had, but I've been living in Music City now for three and a half years and I got a pretty good education," he adds.

    The EP includes five songs written by Carmack, but the track "Being Alone" holds a special place in his heart.

    "I think it's the most personal and the most intimate," he says. "Whenever I sing that song, I really go back to my days in my mid-20s in Los Angeles when I was trying to figure out who I am amongst a world of people who are more than happy to tell me who I am. I was very lost while I was writing it and now when I sing that song, it's almost more of a celebration of being able to find myself. It was once a sadder song for me to sing."

    Nashville, which was picked up by CMT after their abrupt cancellation from ABC in May, is clearly more than just another acting gig or way to segue into music for Carmack.

    "This job is far and away the most special job that I've had in my career," he says. "I've made very close friends, we've had incredible adventures and journeys and we've gone on tours across the United States with the music."

    In addition to making some great pals, Carmack also met his fiancée, Erin Slaver, by way of the show.

    Slaver was playing violin in a band with Sam Palladio, who plays Gunnar on Nashville, and also appeared on the show as one of Juliette Barnes' (Hayden Panettiere) backup singers. During a night out, Carmack was impressed by her performance and they became friends. A year later, they started dating.

    Carmack even incorporated music into his proposal.

    "I proposed on a rooftop at a hotel in New York," he recalls. "I hired a little gypsy jazz quartet to play some of our favorite songs."

    Carmack says Slaver was completely surprised when he popped the question. Luckily, the actor ensured his wife to-be was camera-ready for the big moment.

    "I even fooled her into dressing up so we could take nice pictures," he says.

    Piece of You is available now on iTunes.

    Nashville Update: Connie Britton, Hayden Panettiere, Plus 7 Others Set to Return for Season 5 on CMT

    (6/29/16) Nashville stars Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere are set to return for Season 5 on CMT. The network and Lionsgate aren’t commenting, but sources tell Deadline it’s pretty much a done deal.

    The cast of the show is under contract for a couple of more seasons, but it was unclear when the show moved from ABC to CMT that all regulars would continue full-time. Charles Esten, Sam Palladio, Jonathan Jackson, Clare Bowen, Lennon Stella, Maisy Stella and Chris Carmack also are set to return as series regulars. As Deadline reported last week, Will Chase and Aubrey Peeples will not be returning, but could come back for guest-starring appearances subject to availability.

    Along with a new network and tweaked cast, Season 5 of Nashville also will have new showrunners, Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick, who have succeeded Dee Johnson.

    Britton and Panettiere’s casting was first reported by TVLine.

    Lady Gaga, Connie Britton and 47 Other Stars Honor Orlando Shooting Victims in Ryan Murphy-Produced Tribute Video

    (6/29/16) (Video) A full list of the participants is: Lady Gaga, Chris Pine, Cuba Gooding Jr., Connie Britton, Matt Bomer, Sarah Paulson, Angela Bassett, Lea Michele, Colton Haynes, Sophia Bush, Jane Fonda, Harry Shum Jr., Denis O’Hare, Rob Reiner, Melissa Benoist, Caitlyn Jenner, Édgar Ramírez, Max Greenfield, Chaz Bono, Cheyenne Jackson, Emma Roberts, Kerry Washington, George Lopez, Evan Rachel Wood, Sofia Vergara, Diego Boneta, Nina Jacobson, Demi Lovato, Tyler Oakley, Yeardley Smith, Kid Cudi, Kaitlin Olson, Kevin McHale, Jamie Lee Curtis, Lee Daniels, Chace Crawford, Evan Peters, Gerard Butler, Katey Sagal, John Stamos, Laverne Cox, Jordana Brewster, Wes Bentley, Finn Wittrock, Darren Criss, Kathy Bates, Anna Paquin, Guillermo Díaz and Joe Mantello.

    Laura Benanti looking forward to broadcast of 'She Loves Me'

    (6/29/16) If you can't make it to see Laura Benanti in the charming Broadway revival of "She Loves Me," don't worry. Just fire up your computer or TV.

    Online theater streaming service BroadwayHD plans to livestream the show Thursday night, marking the first time a Broadway show has been broadcast live.

    Benanti, who won a Tony Award in the Broadway revival of "Gypsy," said despite the enormous potential audience, she'll be as cool as the ice cream she eats during the show. The actress said something in her takes over and eliminates any nerves.

    "I just get really still. I get incredibly Zen about it. I don't know what happens. I am not a calm person in life. I'm not a chill-don't-worry-about-it kind of a gal," she said. "I wish I could bottle it for other moments in my life."

    BroadwayHD offers high-definition theatrical events to computers, TV and phones, hoping to one day become the Netflix of Broadway. Its past livestreams include off-Broadway's productions of the New Group's "Buried Child" and Signature Theatre's "Old Hats."

    A few Broadway shows have been broadcast — including "Memphis," the Orlando Bloom-led "Romeo and Juliet" and James Franco's "Of Mice and Men" — but never live. Last year, the off-Broadway musical "Daddy Long Legs" became the first-ever free online stream of any Broadway or off-Broadway show.

    Benanti has seen her profile rise thanks to TV appearances on "Supergirl," ''Nurse Jackie," ''Nashville," ''The Good Wife," ''Go On" and NBC's live version of "The Sound of Music."

    In "She Loves Me," Benanti plays one of two ever-quarreling employees of a perfume shop in a European city who later find out they've been writing lonely-hearts letters to each other. She earned a Tony nomination in the role.

    The lovely songs by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick include "Vanilla Ice Cream," ''A Trip to the Library" and the title song. "I think musical theater — and this show in particular — is such a joyful thing. And I think we all could use a little more joy right now," she said.

    The cast also includes Gavin Creel, Byron Jennings, Michael McGrath, Jane Krakowski and Peter Bartlett. Zachary Levi, known for TV's "Chuck," earned a Tony nomination as the leading man.

    The Roundabout Theatre Company-produced show began previews in February. It closes July 10. Benanti said having the broadcast so close to the end of the run means the cast is well seasoned.

    "I think having had so many shows under our belt and so many different types of audiences — it would take a lot to throw us. I feel like it's really in our bodies now," she said. "This is the perfect time in the run to be doing this."

    BroadwayHD is offering access to the "She Loves Me" livestream to all its annual subscribers on the company's Roku and Apple TV apps. Non-subscribers can view it through a $9.99 viewing pass.

    "The show will live on forever, which is not the case with theater. Theater is ephemeral," she said. "I'm excited that more people will get to see it than would normally be able to, for whatever reason, be it that they live out of town or can't afford it or they're not able to leave their homes."

    To prepare, she'll stick to her regular routine.

    "Routine is the best thing. When you do things special, things get weird. For me, it was the same thing for 'The Sound of Music.' I didn't eat anything differently, I didn't do more yoga. I didn't deviate," she said. "I think that's best. Maybe that's how I trick my mind into thinking it's just another day."

    Connie Britton 'Starts a New Chapter' at a Four-Day Wellness Retreat

    (6/29/16) Connie Britton is on a wellness kick.

    The actress and her "bestie" Marley Shelton attended The Ranch Malibu's R4.0 program, a four-day fitness and wellness retreat that involves morning hikes, afternoon exercise classes, plant-based meals and spa treatments.

    "Vacay!!! ...ish," Britton, 49, captioned an Instagram photo of herself with Shelton while on the retreat. "Intense hikes in Malibu. Delicious vegan meals. Friendship. Relaxation. Exercise to sweat out the toxins. To re-energize. And then rest."

    The Nashville star says the program was a new beginning for her.

    "It was a four-day retreat to reset, start a new chapter, and kick my butt," she shared. "So needed."

    And it appears the eight hours of daily physical activity required of guests may have taken its toll on Britton's leg muscles!

    "Don't mind the blue tape on my shins #igotshinsplints #itsmyburden #thestruggleisreal," her caption continued.

    "Today we crushed an 11-mile hike with a 1,300-ft. climb all before noon," she posted on Instagram. "Need to lay down now."

    “The idea behind The Ranch was to give people a place to unplug, unwind, reset and recalibrate from busy, crazy lives,” co-founder and CEO Alex Glasscock previously told PEOPLE.

    “It's so effective because we have a no options program," he said. "The sum total of eating healthy, low-calorie nutritious meals, coupled with rigorous exercise, massage and stretching, is you detox, your cholesterol levels are improved, you lose fat, gain muscle, and have this overall sense of empowerment, confidence and clarity when you leave."

    Nashville Creator Callie Khouri Opens Up About Season Five

    (6/27/16) ( At a Tennessee Screenwriting Association seminar on Saturday (June 25), Nashville creator and Oscar winner Callie Khouri spoke candidly about her journey in entertainment and the future of the music business drama.

    But when an audience member asked the million-dollar question whether Juliette Barnes died in the plane crash that aired in the season four finale, Khouri wasn’t going to show her cards.

    “Yes, she does,” she joked sarcastically. “I’m not going to tell you! I’m not telling you anything. You’ll have to wait and see.”

    Khouri did express that she was very excited about season five airing on its new network home CMT because the show’s new writing staff shares her same vision.

    “They are very interested in telling the same kinds of stories that I am, which is more emotional but less soapy,” she said. “You still have to have things that hook you emotionally. People have to feel involved.”

    “It’s certainly a good fit for CMT, as they try and get into a scripted universe. Our show is a quality show just in terms of production. We spend a lot of money making it look great. I think it’s a really good fit.”

    The end goal is to give fans of the show – Nashies, they call themselves – a more authentic look at what it’s really like to “make it” in music.

    “One thing I would like to deal with is the collapse of the music business and just how hard it is,” she said. “This stuff is really hard. You can’t just put out a record and suddenly it’s No. 1 and all of a sudden they’re big stars. That’s not how it happens. So, I think we are going to deal more with the struggle of it. I think that’s a truer representation of what’s really going on. And I think the public should be aware of the fact that what’s common practice out in the universe paying for Spotify or Pandora is bankrupting the music industry.”

    And if followers believe that character plotlines are based on actual Music Row news, rumors and events, think again.

    “I love it when somebody tells me something juicy about something that’s really happened,” she said. “But the writers are all in L.A. They’re not in touch with what really goes on. But anybody who wants to tell me something, please don’t hold back.”

    The fifth season, produced by Lionsgate, ABC Studios and Opry Entertainment, will begin production in the near future. Longtime SVOD partner Hulu will continue to stream all episodes the day after they air on CMT.

    Since its debut, the show has inspired 10 soundtracks, including a Christmas album, which have collectively sold more than one million album units and more than five million single-track downloads to date. It has also been nominated for multiple Emmy, Golden Globe and Critics Choice awards.

    "Nashville" star Will Chase going back to Broadway

    (6/23/16) Actor and singer Will Chase will be going from "Nashville" on TV to the Renaissance on Broadway. He's taking over the role of William Shakespeare in "Something Rotten!"

    Chase, who portrayed the country superstar Luke Wheeler on "Nashville," will replace Christian Borle in the musical. Borle, who won a Tony Award in the role, plays his last performance on July 16. Chase starts two days later.

    The comedy is set during the Renaissance and portrays Shakespeare as an arrogant, rock star playwright. Two brothers desperate to write a hit show in his shadow stumble on the notion of writing the world's first musical.

    Chase earned a Tony nomination for his featured role on Broadway in "The Mystery of Edwin Drood," starred in "Nice Work if You Can Get It" and "High Fidelity" as well as "Rent," ''Miss Saigon" and "Aida." Chase has also starred in NBC's first season of "Smash."

    "Something Rotten!" has music and lyrics by the brothers Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick. Wayne Kirkpatrick is a Grammy Award-winning songwriter of such tunes as "Change the World" for Eric Clapton and "Wrapped Up In You" by Garth Brooks. His brother helped write the film "Chicken Run."

    Nashville Shakeup: Two Series Regulars Exit Ahead of Move to CMT

    (6/22/16) To use a phrase popular with one of Nashville‘s main characters, it’s wheels up for Luke and Layla when the country-music drama returns for a fifth season. Series regulars Will Chase and Aubrey Peeples will not be with the show when it makes its CMT debut, TVLine has learned exclusively.

    Chase’s Luke had little to do after his engagement with Rayna fizzled in Season 3; most of his Season 4 storyline involved sticking up for Wheelin’ Dealin’ Records artist Will Lexington when he was attacked by a homophobic talk-show host.

    Meanwhile, Peeples’ Layla sought to avenge Jeff Fordham’s death by ruining Juliette’s relationship with Avery, but Avery’s discovery of her plan — and his seemingly imminent reunion with Ms. Barnes — meant the end of that storyline.

    The exits — which TVLine predicted this spring — come as new executive producers Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick (thirtysomething) take over show-running duties, filling the role previously held by Dee Johnson.

    Lionsgate, which produces the series, declined to comment.

    ABC cancelled Nashville in May, but the drama was revived by the cable network CMT soon after. CMT head of development Jayson Dinsmore recently said that “our expectation and our hope is that [the entire cast] will participate in this next cycle.”

    CMT Programming Chief Jayson Dinsmore On ‘Nashville’ Pickup

    (6/21/16) ( The year 2016 already was was supposed to be a big for CMT, highlighted by a major push into original scripted series with comedy Still The King, starring Billy Ray Cyrus, which just launched to solid ratings, and 1950s Memphis drama Million Dollar Quartet, which premieres this fall. CMT’s scripted footprint grew dramatically overnight as the network recently picked up country music drama Nashville following its cancellation by ABC for a 22-episode fifth season.

    Deadline spoke with CMT’s head of of development Jayson Dinsmore on the high-profile acquisition, the network’s plans for Nashville (a companion aftershow?), as well as its unscripted, documentary and music strategy in maintaining CMT’s brand of “optimism and positivity.” (Hint: music videos are not going anywhere.)

    DEADLINE: Let’s start with Nashville. How did the deal came together and what was the reason behind the pickup decision?

    DINSMORE: Every year there’s conjecture, would CMT pick it up if ABC canceled the show. Quite honestly, we looked at it and when it became available we jumped. It really is sort of the natural evolution of the channel. We wanted to move away from some of the lighter reality fare and we really wanted to create scripted projects that embraced music and that hopefully attract a broader audience. We were already headed down this path with two other scripted series and having Nashville come in as our third really completed the puzzle.

    DEADLINE: Have you set a premiere date for Nashville yet?

    DINSMORE: We have not. We just closed the deal so we’re very early in talks, but I have spoken with the showrunners, Marshall (Herskovitz) and Ed (Zwick), and studio, Lionsgate. Everybody is very excited and we’re working together. We’ll premiere the show when it makes sense for everyone involved.

    DEADLINE: Have you decided how you will air the series? Will you stick to the cable model of two uninterrupted shorter runs because it’s 22 episodes, or is it going to be close to the way the show aired on ABC?

    DINSMORE: We haven’t really decided that. I can honestly tell you that I don’t believe we will do a broadcast pattern where they go up for two episodes and then down for two. I think if and when we settle on the schedule there will be a long run of episodes so that the audience doesn’t have to wait to come back and forth. I think audiences who are so loyal, much like the Nashville fan base, I think they will appreciate that we’ve given them a lot of episodes in a row.

    DEADLINE: Do we know which Nashville actors are coming back?

    DINSMORE: Again, it’s really early. We’ve seen some really great press. Connie [Britton] was in Texas last week and said some very nice things about the show. When we announced that we picked it up we had several of the cast members onstage with us at CMA’s Best last week. We had Chip [Esten]) and Claire [Bowen], so our expectation and our hope is that everyone will participate in this next cycle. Again, we’re just having those conversations now with the producers.

    DEADLINE: On ABC, Nashville was a franchise with music specials, tours and other extensions. Are you planning to keep that and would the music quotient of the series increase now that it is on the country music-themed CMT?

    DINSMORE: A lot of that falls on the shoulders of Lionsgate, the studio. What I can tell you is that we’re not going to impose ourselves on a show. The fan base has been very vocal about what they like and what they don’t like. We’re not going to turn this into the CMT version of Nashville. That being said, we have been looking at and thinking about additional ideas for shoulder programming to support the show. When you’re a cable channel you have unique opportunities that you don’t have at the broadcast level.

    DEADLINE: Can you share any ideas that you are kicking around?

    DINSMORE: I’ll tell you one of them. We’re thinking about doing an aftershow. Nothing’s set in stone but imagine if we did sort of a Talking Dead for Nashville where we had some of the cast, maybe some performances, maybe some fans come and talk about the show. We do it in the studio, sort of engage the audience and that loyal fan base on a deeper level. That’s something we can afford to do in cable that they probably don’t have the opportunity at broadcast.

    DEADLINE: What are your expectations in terms of broadening the audience with the Nashville acquisition? How are you going to try to capitalize on potential new viewers who have never watched CMT?

    DINSMORE: I’ll give you one quick example. When we announced that we picked up Nashville we knew the fans were super-loyal. We didn’t know they were as loyal as they are. As soon as we announced it, the fans reacted in such a huge, positive, goodwill way towards CMT that they actually started a Twitter campaign to support the premiere of Still The King three days later. Nashies for Still The King trended on Twitter. The sentiment was we’re thankful to CMT that they’ve picked up this show and they’ve listened to the fans that we’re going to mobilize and support everything they do. We were surprised and thankful as well at the same time.

    DEADLINE: How does Nashville fit into CMT’s scripted strategy? Original scripted series is very hard to get into, it’s a very crowded field.

    DINSMORE: Well, you’re right in saying that channels where the expectation is one thing trying to move into new areas of content is difficult. Super-proud of the fact that our first one out of the gate, which is Still The King, really connected and had two-and-a-half million viewers in its premiere. We’re excited about the ratings, so we’re hopeful that we’ll have a second cycle. I think the difference is that CMT has such a clear brand. So in some ways we have a head start in the expectation of what we would do and as we move into different genres. Quite honestly, we look for all types of programming that is somewhat rooted in music and arguably have strong storytelling and characters that are relatable, whether it’s an unscripted, scripted, or music and events or in our documentaries. I actually think they complement each other quite well, but because we have such a clear brand that’s connected to music you kind of have an expectation of where we would go regardless of genre.

    DEADLINE: When are you going to make a renewal decision on Still The King?

    DINSMORE: We’re talking right now to the producers. We’ve only aired once but we’re very excited. I would say this: You don’t go into these types of productions and spend this kind of money without an expectation that you’re going to get to a second cycle. We do subscribe to the belief that in such a crowded marketplace you need to allow shows the opportunity to find an audience over time. While we haven’t picked it up, I’d like to think that it’s a real possibility.

    DEADLINE: What are your expectations for your first drama, Million Dollar Quartet?

    DINSMORE: Million Dollar Quartet is really a premium cable television play. It’s inspired by the Broadway musical, though it is not a musical. In fact, we spent quite a bit of time trying to imagine a way where a show about the birth of rock and roll set in Memphis in the 1950s during a turbulent time of race relations, how could we make that appeal multi-generational. So we really turned it into a coming-of-age story. Our Elvis character, the actor who plays him, is actually 17 years old in real life. His girlfriend is 16 years old in real life. Then we peppered the cast with really charismatic and good-looking actors formerly of the WB and the CW. So we sort of raided their closet and brought Chad Michael Murray, Trevor Donovan over. We tried to position the show as: if our main characters weren’t Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ike Turner, BB King, would a younger audience connect to this coming-of-age story in the way that they did previously in the Dawson’s Creek and Gilmore Girls of the world?

    DEADLINE: What are your scripted plans beyond Still The King, Million Dollar Quartet and Nashville?

    DINSMORE: I think we have eight pilot scripts in various stages of development. We plan to shoot two pilots this summer. We hope to add another series into the mix by next summer or next fall and then hopefully continuing to add another scripted series as we build out our entire week of programming each year.

    DEADLINE: You mentioned earlier that on the reality side you are moving away from lighter fare. What do you mean by that?

    DINSMORE: It’s not that we’re moving away from lighter. I actually think a better description would be we’re moving towards things that have optimism and positivity and hopefully the opportunity to find repeatable franchises. We’ve launched a couple in the past year. We added I Love Kellie Pickler to our slate and it was the highest-rated premiere since 2012 and then highest-rated with women since 2008. She’s become sort of an ambassador for the channel. She’s so likeable and cute. Then we followed that up with the launch of The Dude Perfect Show produced by Rob Dyrdek. That show, for the very first time, brought many, many teens to the channel. In other words, we’re inviting new people to the channel and they’re coming to check us out.

    DEADLINE: With I Love Kellie Pickler and The Dude Perfect Show doing well, have you found CMT’s sweet spot with the comedic reality genre?

    DINSMORE: We’ve had a great deal of success with comedic reality. I think our audience appreciates that we don’t show a lot of violence or don’t go heavy and dark. I think they come to CMT to escape. So the shows that sort of feature that tone, whether it’s blue skies or whether it’s comedy, those are the ones that seem to connect. We definitely are not cynical. Sometimes we can be sarcastic but we don’t go dark and we don’t go cynical. We really do think that optimism and positivity are two key words that we endeavor to have in each of our series. With Kellie Pickler we got quite a bit of credit both critically and from the fan base that they liked that we didn’t show a ton of bickering between Kellie and her husband. They had a real relationship and they loved each other. I think that’s sort of the filter we go through. That’s what I would say.

    DEADLINE: What about competition reality series? CMT once aired Nashville Star. Would you like to revisit the music competition genre?

    DINSMORE: We’ve been asked that quite a bit as well. There are a couple of things. One is competition music is really well-served by broadcast television right now. The Voice, American Idol, even America’s Got Talent has quite a bit of music. They are exceptional productions so what I would hate to do more than anything is to produce a cable version of those shows and actually do a disservice. We are well-represented across all of those shows whether it’s Keith Urban on American Idol or Blake Shelton on The Voice, so no. We don’t actually think we’ll do a big, giant-arced competition series. Also, there’s just very little residual value to spend that much money and get so little return. It’s just not a business model that we’re interested in. That being said, we service music on our channel more than any other channel in television because music is actually the front door to everything that we do.

    DEADLINE: What about music videos, will they remain a staple on the network as it evolves?

    DINSMORE: I’m very proud of the fact that we still have music videos on air. If there’s one thing our longest fans of the channel ask for is that we play more music. So we’re trying to accommodate them by giving them different opportunities to listen to music and see music on our channel. Yes, our music hours remain. I think it’s about 25 percent of our schedule.

    DEADLINE: Why did CMT decide to go into the documentary business?

    DINSMORE: We started the documentary division three years ago to introduce more sophisticated storytelling to our audience to see how they would react. What we thought was true actually proved to be true. They loved it. We did a documentary on Johnny Cash. We did a documentary on the making of Urban Cowboy and the backstory behind the bar from the movie, Gilley’s. Those two were seen by 20 million viewers over multiple airings.

    It took 18 months to get our first doc made. We had to convince the town that we were willing to go there and to actually pay and give them the resources they need in order to make a real film.

    Then we followed that up with The Bandit, a documentary on the relationship between Burt Reynolds and his best friend Hal Needham, who was his stunt man and also the director of Smokey And The Bandit. It really turned out to be quite a love story. We submitted it to South by Southwest. We world premiered there and demand was so great that they moved us from a 300-seat theater to a 3,000-seat theater and had to schedule three showings to meet the demand.

    Our latest documentary is called Chicken People. It is basically best in show for folks who raise show chickens. It’s very heartfelt. This is going to get a little deep, but you’ll find that their relationships to their chickens are actually a metaphor for some social anxiety they’ve had from their childhood. It’s going to get a theatrical release in New York and L.A. later this summer. We’re very proud of what we’ve been able to do with our docs team so quickly.

    Nashville After Show Eyed at CMT

    (6/21/16) CMT is really, really excited about its Nashville acquisition — so much so that the cable network is already plotting a companion series.

    In an interview with TVLine’s sister site Deadline, CMT’s head of of development Jayson Dinsmore revealed that the ex-ABC drama may get its very own after show. “Nothing’s set in stone, but imagine if we did sort of a Talking Dead for Nashville where we had some of the cast, maybe some performances, maybe some fans come and talk about the show,” he said. “We [would] do it in the studio, sort of engage the audience and that loyal fan base on a deeper level. That’s something we can afford to do in cable that they probably don’t have the opportunity at broadcast.”

    Earlier this month, CMT announced that it was picking up Nashville for a fifth season following the series’ cancellation at ABC. Dinsmore declined to speculate about which cast members would be back. “It’s really early,” he hedged. “We’ve seen some really great press. Connie [Britton] was in Texas last week and said some very nice things about the show. When we announced that we picked it up we had several of the cast members onstage with us at CMA’s Best last week. We had Chip [Esten] and Claire [Bowen], so our expectation and our hope is that everyone will participate in this next cycle.”

    Nashville‘s Official Moving Sale

    (6/21/16) Rayna, Deacon, Juliette, Avery, Gunnar, Scarlett, Will, Maddie and Daphne. They’re all moving. And believe it or not, that means a massive multi-character moving sale.

    Now that Nashville is moving to CMT from ABC, the characters are cleaning house from the first four seasons. So there are roughly 270 props, wardrobe selections and other memorabilia that fans of the show — Nashies — can own.

    The sale is being orchestrated by VIP Fan Auctions, which has been auctioning TV and movie memorabilia from Hollywood’s largest entertainment studios since 2002.

    The weekly auctions will allow fans to bid on props, wardrobe and memorabilia straight from the set and can be viewed at Each Nashville item will be offered for seven days, and new items will be offered every week through July 26. Bidding began Tuesday (June 21).

    You could essentially recreate Rayna and Deacon’s home inside your own. Or Juliette’s coveted closet.

    Or you could just buy one of the songwriting notebooks that Scarlett, Will and Gunnar have with them 24/7.

    The fifth season of Nashville, produced by Lionsgate, ABC Studios and Opry Entertainment, will begin production in the near future.

    Longtime SVOD partner Hulu will continue to bring fans their favorite series by making all Nashville episodes available to stream the day after they air on CMT.

    CMT confirms 'Nashville' fifth season, 22 episodes

    (6/10/16) "Nashville" will return for a fifth season that will be broadcast on CMT and streamed on Hulu thanks to a unique deal that was reached on Thursday after weeks of negotiations, according to sources familiar with the talks.

    The show was canceled by ABC after a four-season run, but fans of the show banded together and launched a social media campaign to save the country music-focused drama. Lionsgate began pitching the show to other networks and ultimately found a home on the Nashville-based CMT.

    In a press release on Friday, CMT confirmed that it had picked up the show, which will have a 22-episode run this season. Under the deal, Hulu will have streaming rights to episodes the day after they air.

    “CMT heard the fans. The wave of love and appreciation they have unleashed for ‘Nashville’ has been overwhelming,” said Brian Philips, President of CMT. “‘Nashville’ is a perfect addition to our evolving line-up of big music specials, documentaries, and original series. We see our fans and ourselves in this show and we will treasure it like no other network. Nashville belongs on CMT.”

    Crucial to the deal is the incentive package that will see the state, Metro, the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. and Ryman Hospitality chip in funds to offset the cost of the show's production. The state put $8 million in its budget and Nashville Mayor Megan Barry has proposed a $1.375 million fund for film incentives, though the final amount for "Nashville" has not been announced.

    The state and Metro have justified incentives for "Nashville" by arguing the show brings tourists to the city and pumps millions of dollars into the local economy, in addition to bringing production jobs.

    The entire cast is expected to return for the show, which will be under the direction of a new creative team. The show is a joint venture between Lionsgate, ABC Studios and Opry Entertainment, a division of Ryman Hospitality.

    “‘Nashville’ has long been a fan favorite show on Hulu and we are so proud to continue to make new episodes available for fans to stream the day after they air,” said Craig Erwich, Senior Vice President and Head of Content at Hulu. “We look forward to bringing even more episodes of this acclaimed series to its passionate and devoted audience.”

    "Nashville" was conceived by Ryman Hospitality and developed by Lionsgate. The show's ratings were inconsistent in its fourth season, but a loyal fan base has remained. And "Nashville" has additional revenue streams than the typical television show because of its music licensing component.

    In fact the show's stars have been on a tour in recent weeks. Some observers have said that no scripted show has licensed more original music than "Nashville."

    The show has also taken local film production to another level, providing steady employment for hundreds of workers behind the scenes. The local payroll was in the neighborhood of $21.2 million for season two, according to the most recent numbers released by the show's representatives.

    'Nashville' incentives

    Season 1: $14.4 million

    Season 2: $13.25 million

    Season 3: $8 million

    Season 4: $10 million.

    Scott Reeves Reunites Blue County — See the Band Rehearsing!

    (6/10/16) (Video) Scott Reeves is getting the band back together!

    The actor, best known to soap fans from his stints as Ryan on THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS and Steve on GENERAL HOSPITAL, is reuniting with good friend Aaron Benward to reform Blue County!

    Reeves shared a video of the duo rehearsing in the backyard where he self-consciously takes off his glasses when the camera hits him and laments getting older!

    Blue County Lives 2016 from Kenda Benward on Vimeo.

    Blue County is playing a show tonight at The Listening Room Cafe in Nashville, TN, to kick off CMA Fest 2016, so if you’re in the area, you can click here for tickets!

    Hopefully he’ll share more videos for those who can’t make the reunion show!

    Cassadee Pope, Jonathan Jackson, Charles Esten and Scotty McCreery Play Ball for a Good Cause

    (6/8/16) Photos: (Jackson, Esten)(Pope) This is softball, country-music style: Cassadee Pope swinging at six pitches before hitting a foul ball and running safely to first base. Her teammate, Nashville's Charles Esten, emerging from the dugout to throw, not balls, but free T-shirts to fans in the stands. Mickey Guyton rounding the bases while clutching her little so-ugly-he’s-cute mutt, Charlie. And – oh yes – the game lasted four innings and the final score was a tie, 18-18.

    The only casualty – besides every sports rulebook in the world – was A Thousand Horses’ guitarist Zach Brown, who left in crutches after twisting an ankle running to second base. "I didn’t warm up and I didn’t wear cleats," he said sheepishly, not too worse for wear.

    Of course it was all in good fun – and for a good cause. The country celebrity softball game, held every year during CMA Festival Week in Nashville, brings together two full rosters of artists and other notables who square off before thousands of fans at the city’s minor league stadium. The beneficiary is California-based City of Hope, the nationally renowned cancer treatment and research center.

    Before the game, the players chatted with reporters about this break from the norm, as well as what’s going on in their lives.

    Nashville cast members Esten and Jonathan Jackson, of course, had the prospects for a fifth season of their show on their minds. ABC recently canceled the country-themed drama, but reports have been swirling this week that CMT will be reviving it.

    Both actors said they were feeling hopeful, but even more, Esten, who plays Deacon Claybourne, said he was "grateful."

    "This is my first show that I’ve ever had more than two seasons on," he said. "So I’ve always done everything that I can in this town and on this show – trying to get the most out of it and bringing my very best to it." A common sight around Nashville, Esten performed on the Grand Ole Opry for the 49th and 50th time this week.

    Whether or not the show is renewed, Jackson, who plays Avery Barkley, said he has put down his stakes in the city. "It’s become home," he said. "We love it." He plans to continue to pursue his music career in Nashville and also owns a restaurant in a nearby town.

    Cassadee Pope was still celebrating the success of "Think of You," her duet with Chris Young, that’s her first chart-topper. The collaboration, Pope said, may not be a one-time thing. "Chris and I were talking about possibly doing an EP at some point where every song is a duet," she said. "We love singing together, and we love working together, so it would just be a fun excuse to hang out."

    Scotty McCreery, a one-time high school baseball standout, showed up at the game with an almost-new glove – still grieving that his old one disappeared during the filming of a music video. Though dropped by his label earlier this year, McCreery offered assurances that he’s on his way to find a new recording home. "A lot of the music is ready, the single is ready, so it’s just a matter of when and where," he said.

    After the game, McCreery was among several of the players who lingered to sign autographs and take selfies with fans, and he parted with his game jersey at one youngster’s request. McCreery admitted the game’s tie didn’t set well with his old competitive juices, "But hey," he said, "today was not about the competition."

    Organizers reported an estimated $200,000 was raised at the event.

    Nashville Season 5 Update: Axed ABC Drama on Verge of Renewal at CMT

    (6/7/16) Juliette’s errant jet has been cleared for landing at CMT.

    The country-infused cable network is nearing a deal with producer Lionsgate to pick up a fifth season of Nashville, which last month was cancelled at ABC. A formal announcement is expected to be made during Wednesday’s CMT Awards.

    Execs at Lionsgate and ABC Studios were so confident they would find the series a new home that they convinced the network to end what could’ve been its series finale a cliffhanger. “We wouldn’t take such a strong position to advocate for [the cliffhanger ending] if we didn’t feel good about our chances moving forward,” Lionsgate TV chairman Kevin Beggs told The Hollywood Reporter.

    In the cancelled series’ ABC swan song on May 25, the fate of Hayden Panettiere’s Juliette was left very much up in the air as the plane that was carrying the starlet lost radio contact. As TVLine reported, an alternate ending showing Juliette alive, well and being reunited with estranged hubby Avery (Jonathan Jackson) at the airport was shot but ultimately discarded.

    As TVLine was first to report, TV vets Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick (My So-Called Life, thirtysomething) are set to take the showrunner reins in Season 5, replacing Dee Johnson. One big question mark: Which current cast members will join the show over at CMT? Reps for Lionsgate and CMT declined to comment for this story.

    Supergirl’s Mom Laura Benanti On Tony Nominations, Type-Casting And Cheating On Her “Husband”

    (6/3/16) ( Who is Laura Benanti? Who isn’t she? might be the better question: Segueing from Nashville‘s rising C&W starlet-turned-victim Sadie Stone to Supergirl’s doomed-but-wise mom Alura Zor-El, not to mention playing Captain Georg von Trapp’s ill-fated fiancée Ilsa on The Sound Of Music Live, garnering most of that show’s best reviews (even if Carrie Underwood’s Maria got the Captain) would cover only the last couple of TV seasons for someone who considers herself first and foremost a Broadway denizen. There were arcs on Nurse Jackie and The Good Wife and a heavily promoted, under-dressed stint as First Bunny Carol-Lynne on NBC’s short-lived Playboy Club.

    Benanti’s range, however, is even more impressive on the stage side of her CV, beginning in 1999 with her Broadway debut as fellow nunnabe understudy and later replacement for Rebecca Luker’s Maria in another revival of Sound Of Music. A five-time nominee, she won her first Tony Award in 2008 for featured performance by an actress in a musical, for her knockout turn in the title role of Gypsy, the Arthur Laurents-staged revival starring Patti LuPone (also Tonied) as Rose. Other more disparate revivals included Nine and Into The Woods. But it has been in new work as well that Benanti has proven equally adept at drama and comedy, including the spottily brilliant Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown to the compelling dramedy In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play.

    And here she is with her first leading-lady Tony nomination for another title role, in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s revival of She Loves Me. You probably know more about the show than you think, since this musical is one of those rare gems better known for its antecedents and offspring than the thing itself. It’s based on the same Miklós László comedy that became Ernst Lubitsch’s 1940 hit The Shop Around The Corner with James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan, and half a century later Nora Ephron’s You’ve Got Mail with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. She Loves Me is the 1963 musical Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock scored (with book author Joe Masteroff) before Fiddler On The Roof, one of the biggest hits of all time (and also revived this season), and it was the first show staged from start to opening night by Harold Prince, heretofore known as a producer. It’s so Old World — a model of craftsmanship, tonal balance and joy, tempered with a smidgen of middle-Europen existentialism — it’s practically modern

    As it happens, She Loves Me also was the first Broadway musical revival presented by the Roundabout, more than two decades ago. Set in a Budapest parfumerie, it concerns two disputatious clerks who, unbeknownst to one another, are secret epistolary lovers through a lonely-hearts club. They meet uncute when Benanti’s Amalia Balash enters Maraczek’s Parfumerie in search of work, only to be rejected by Zachary Levi’s imperious Georg Nowack — until Amalia seizes an opportunity to show of her innate salesmanship in front of Georg and Mr. Maraczek himself. In a nice switch, among Benanti’s co-stars are Jane Krakowski, also of the Nine revival, as Amalia’s sexy comic foil. Which is what led to my first question.

    DEADLINE: I want to go back to something you mentioned when we talked right after the nominations, when you called it a triumph for “silly sopranos.”

    BENANTI: Silly? I did? Because I’m silly? What do you mean?

    DEADLINE: You said it! You said that one of the great things about the nomination was it was a tribute to the silly soprano as a character role.

    BENANTI: Oh, yeah, I am silly. I feel like in life in general…OK I’ll just make it about the arts. I feel like people are very comfortable boxing women into particular roles, like the madonna / whore complex, or a Bunny. You’re the girl next door. You’re hot. You’re sweet. So I feel compartmentalized quite a bit when I’m performing, and I always try to bring humanity, and levels, and layers of true feeling to any role that I’m playing.

    But sometimes it can be challenging when you feel like, Wow, I’m playing a stereotype. I’m playing a man’s idea of what a woman is. So, to be in a musical written in 1962, to have these two fully drawn female characters of Ilona [Krakowski] and Amalia, to have Ilona be the sort of comic relief, but she has so much heart, and she’s going on this journey to no longer be a woman that men throw away, is a very brave thing to talk about at any point in time, but particularly the ’60s.

    DEADLINE: And Amalia?

    BENANTI: In any other show Amalia, who is our leading lady, might be vaguely boring or only concerned about a man, or how she looks, or how she’s perceived. To have Amalia be a fiery go-getter who, the first time we see her, she is getting a job that she needs, and then we get to see her sort of soft underbelly, her romanticism.

    DEADLINE: And a little silly?

    BENANTI: Yes! As a soprano, it’s very rare to get to be funny, and silly, and witty, and have tremendous heart, and pathos, and intelligence. For me, playing this role feels like a culmination of all the things I try to do well in my job and in my life. So I feel enormously grateful to get to sing this operatic, tremendously difficult score, but then also have the audience laugh and be with me on this journey. Sometimes it feels like a slog, when you’re the soprano when you’re like, Come on, come with me! This is hard, and the audience is like, Yeah, but we want the other, the belter, to come out and make us laugh. So it’s extremely gratifying to be in this beautiful production that’s been handled to masterfully by Scott Ellis and to be in this company of actors.

    DEADLINE: Your music director is Paul Gemignani, forever associated with Hal Prince and especially the musicals of Stephen Sondheim. And a genius. Did he pay a large part in this revival?

    BENANTI: Oh yes. He’s amazing. He’s incredible. I did Into The Woods with him, too. So I’ve loved him since I was 22 years old.

    DEADLINE: My own discovery, going back a long time ago, was realizing that a lot of what we associate as the “Sondheim sound” is significantly the Gemignani sound.

    BENANTI: Oh, it’s the Gemignani sound. He moves it along. There’s no need to let the audience get ahead of you, and that’s what I love about it, is that he’s all about the acting, as is Mr. Sondheim. It’s all about let’s tell the story. He lets you make it your own. He doesn’t come in and go, This is how it’s going to be done. He’s, What key do you want to do it in? Well, maybe we should stop here. Maybe we should put in a musical break here. You know, he is just more than happy to tailor it to your version of this character, which is so helpful. There’s nothing worse than coming into a rigid idea of what somebody wants you to do, because, in a musical, the singing is the continuation of the scene. So it flows effortlessly because of Paul.

    DEADLINE: Is this the first operetta-style show you’ve done?

    BENANTI: No. Most Happy Fella I did at City Center Encores. And I did [Sondheim’s] A Little Night Music at the LA Opera. Certainly, Into the Woods [Sondheim, too] has its moment of true legit soprano, but singing in a legit soprano, I just love it so much. It’s how I was meant to sing, and it’s refreshing for me to not have to be like, all right, I’m fake belting, and I’m mixing. I really, really enjoy singing this type of music, and I will say I wish people would write for the soprano more.

    DEADLINE: I can’t imagine a better part than what you’re playing now, but what have you not done that you would love to do?

    BENANTI: Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady.

    DEADLINE: You also told me that you don’t have the “tone” for grand opera. What does that mean?

    BENANTI: I don’t have the fullness of tone, I don’t think. I could be a lyric soprano in the opera, but I could not be a true coloratura soprano and I would never claim to be. It’s funny, because sometimes people say to me you should sing opera, and I’m like, Oh, if any real opera singers heard you say that, they’d be like, how dare you? I would love to sing lyric soprano in an opera, but for me, the acting is so important that that’s almost primary for me. So it would need to be the type of situation where that was understood.

    DEADLINE: What’s been your happiest experience on television?

    BENANTI: The Sound Of Music Live. That was a really happy experience because I felt like it used the full breadth of my abilities. What I find sometimes in television is I feel frustrated that I feel like I can do more. I am more than this, is sometimes what I feel, but I’m tremendously grateful for the experience, and I am tremendously grateful for the opportunity and the visibility that it gives me. I really loved being on Supergirl. I really loved being on Nashville.

    I’m forever looking for the role that I feel will make audiences go, Oh, that’s it. We get it now. That’s what Sound of Music Live did for me. As an actor, I always thought, Oh, you just wait around, you wait for somebody to write you the perfect part, but that’s just not how it works anymore. So I really try to take my own career into my own hands a little bit more in terms of creating my own content and writing. I’m writing a comedic book of essays. I really like being funny. I know that sounds ridiculous in that most of what people have seen me on television doing is drama. I’ve done a lot of drama, but I’m not a dramatic person. I am a person who sees the world through the lens of humor.

    DEADLINE: And other media?

    BENANTI: Currently, I’m trying to figure out a hybrid in digital space, like a late night variety show. As a socially conscious person, I would like to incorporate that into my career, and this feels like a very good way to be funny, which I love; to create content, which I love; to learn about people, which I love; and to help people, which I love. Like John Oliver, what I love about him is that when you’re watching the show, he calls to your attention things that should incense you, and then it calls you to action to do something about it.

    My goal would be to call attention to people doing something extraordinary in their lives and in their communities just to remind each other and ourselves that there are still good people doing wonderful things. It would be 30 minutes, and I would come out and do a monologue. Sometimes that would be songs. Sometimes it would be just a monologue. Then we’d have a famous person, and then we would bring out a man, woman, or child doing something extraordinary, and then there would be a gaming portion where, for 48 hours online, you could pay to play, and then the money would go to the organization that the civilian person is representing.

    DEADLINE: I’m not sure how you tie all this together.

    BENANTI: Here’s the thing for me. I want to play a human being. I want to play a fully fleshed-out human being. If that is on television, fine. If that it is in a movie, fine. If that’s on Broadway, great. Off-Broadway, great. If being famous was my goal, I would’ve taken a very different career path. Angela Lansbury is my idol for that. Julie Andrews is my idol for that. They are beautiful, but their career’s not predicated on it. They don’t have an expiration date. It’s not like their career is because they were on the cover of Maxim.

    There was a moment there in my 20s where I felt like, should I be doing this? Should I be greasing myself up and posing in bikinis? And I did the cover of Playboy because I was in The Playboy Club. That remains my saddest moment where I was like, is this sexy? Is this right? I actually loved that show. My friend, Chad Hodge, wrote that show, and I felt like it had so much potential, and then, all of a sudden, it became about men and a murder mystery which I didn’t understand. So I just want to play people, and I just want to do it forever until I can’t do it anymore, and the platform, whatever the platform is, is what I want.

    DEADLINE: I have to ask, if you had your druthers, what would you be concentrating on?

    BENANTI: I always say Broadway. Broadway is my husband, and television is my mistress. So if I could just screw my husband all the time, I would, but sometimes I need to visit the mistress because I got to make some money.

    Nashville Exec Downplays 'Short-Term Pain' of Cliffhanger, Insists Alt Ending Would've Been 'Disservice to Fans'

    (5/30/16) The decision to send Nashville out on a cliffhanger was a creative one as much as it was a business one, per The Powers That Be.

    In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Lionsgate TV chairman Kevin Beggs said, “The ending we ran was the ending always envisioned for this season,” adding, “To go with a too-easy wrap-up is more of a disservice to the fans who have invested four years in this great cast and these great stories. And there [are] more stories to tell.”

    In the cancelled series’ ABC swan song on May 25, the fate of Hayden Panettiere’s Juliette was left very much up in the air as the plane that was carrying the starlet lost radio contact. As TVLine reported, an alternate ending showing Juliette alive, well and being reunited with estranged hubby Avery (Jonathan Jackson) at the airport was shot but ultimately discarded.

    The ambiguous ending was intended to buoy Lionsgate’s efforts to find Nashville a new home, but viewers were not pleased. “We love Nashville, but leaving Julliette missing at the end of the final episode sucked,” sighed TVLine reader Carol. Fellow fan Marla, meanwhile, said the finale “was very good but it would have been great without the cliffhanger! I would have loved to see Juliette and Avery get their happy ending!”

    According to Beggs, the studio is currently engaged in “serious conversations with multiple buyers about continuing the show on another platform… We wouldn’t take such a strong position to advocate for [the cliffhanger ending] if we didn’t feel good about our chances moving forward.”

    For his part, Nashville leading man Charles Esten is bullish about the show’s Season 5 prospects, telling TVLine that the addition of new showrunners Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick (My So-Called Life, thirtysomething) leaves the series “pregnant with possibilities,” adding, “There’s magic all over this thing.”

    Lionsgate Standing Strongly Behind ‘Nashville’ And Looks To ‘Power Rangers’ As Long-Lasting Franchise

    (5/26/16) Lionsgate threw very strong support behind its country music drama Nashville which was cancelled by ABC earlier this month after four seasons, telling analysts this morning that “the fans and everyone else is clamoring for many more seasons … our near-term plan is to get another season.” They said they are “getting a lot of inbound inquiries” and that they are concentrated on Season 5 with Marshall Herskovitz (and Ed Zwick) as the show-runner and that “they hope to talk about this show for years to come.” Indeed, they have been working on stories for next season.

    In addition, with the end of its Hunger Games franchise and the lacking performance of the last installment of the Divergent Series: Allegiant (which they admit that they probably rushed to meet the distribution date), the company is turning its attention to Power Rangers, telling analysts that they hope to do “five, six or seven of them.” Power Rangers, the feature version based on the popular and long-running kids series of the same name, bows March 24, 2017. They said that they will be releasing photos shortly of the costumes.

    The company noted that the Top Ten movies have historically taken in anywhere from 26% to 36% of the overall box office pie, that leaves close to $7B to $8B and, co-chair of the Motion Picture Group Rob Friedman said, “We plan to take a pretty healthy piece of that. We believe very much of our strategy of offering more product for wider audiences and clearly at a more efficient price. If you look at the first Twilight and the first Hunger Games … we were planning for doubles and ended up with grand slams.” With a budget $100M less than previous years, they said they have more product now with less cost and talked up upcoming movie fare LaLa Land, Now You See Me 2 and also Nerve (which it moved into the summer to July 27, they said, based on the fact that it tested so well with audiences; the trailer has already garnered 20 million views).

    Clearly, on the film side, they need another franchise to hit. Still, Lionsgate’s shares were up about 11% this morning, mostly due to yesterday’s news that its March quarter beat expectations. That was largely due to its successful television operations, with production up over 100% and profits up 860%.

    They noted that they were focused on rights retention in any deals that they do and also on library growth. Lionsgate executives said that its library — which is 90% film and 10% TV titles — continues to generate revenue (roughly $520M with cash flow approaching $200M). The company added 600 titles to the library in the past year with deals with New Regency, Hearst, Skydance and with a major stake in Pilgrim which put the company squarely in the unscripted TV business.

    The deal gave Lionsgate and Pilgrim a combined roster of nearly 80 TV series across 40 networks. They said that they are “already collaborating with Pilgrim on several new shows.”

    Lionsgate also mentioned that it had a $200M to $300M adjusted EBITDA for 2017. They said that with the “unpredictability of the film business … with 15 new TV and 16 films still scheduled we thought it appropriate to provide a wider range of guidance.”

    Nashville's Charles Esten on Deacon's Hard-Won Restraint ('God Bless Him, He Learned!'), Series' Pickup Prospects

    (5/26/16) The morning after Nashville‘s series finale, Charles Esten woke up a little sore — he’s been helping son Chase with his Eagle Scout Service Project, construction of some steps that go down a riverbank near their home — and a lot optimistic that the show’s fans plus Lionsgate TV’s willingness to shop the drama will help it find a new home.

    “Obviously, it’s bittersweet,” he tells TVLine, referring to the end of the country-music series’ four-season run on broadcast television. “But in a way, I’ve been prepared for a long time that this thing — at least, as far as it goes with ABC — would have to end.”

    Thanks to Nashville‘s near-constant bubble status every spring, renewals were never a sure thing. “I used to tell people, right in the middle of the best part of this, I would say, ‘This place is literally heaven for me.’ Well, I’m not going to use the word ‘literally.’ It’s not literally heaven,” he says, laughing. “‘This place is an exceedingly good metaphor for heaven for me.'” But I said, ‘The funny part is, if I look down at my feet, a little closer in these clouds, I’m always standing on a trap door that says ‘ABC’ on it.'”

    He continues: “I don’t mean I was ever pessimistic. I was realistic… More like knowing in the back of my head, and in a way that made me more grateful every single day.”

    Now that that trapdoor has sprung, Esten says he’s buoyed by positive feedback from the show’s Powers That Be, as well as the strength of homegrown efforts like the #BringBackNashville social media campaign.

    “There’s the line in ‘A Life That’s Good’ — ‘I wanna look back and say I did all that I could,'” he muses. “Even if nothing at all comes of their efforts and sincere declarations, it would still be extremely meaningful, everything they’ve done. The Nashies, for certain, can look back and say, ‘I did all that I could.'”

    Read on for more of Esten’s thoughts at the end of the series’ run… or is it?

    TVLINE | I’ve been looking at Twitter and reading comments from our readers this morning. It must be nice to know so many people care about what happens to the show.

    One of the things that is so exciting about this campaign, this very organic campaign by the fans of Nashville, is that it comes at this very crucial moment where there are negotiations. And when I look at those negotiations, the possibilities of where we might end up, nobody’s more grateful to ABC [than I am]… That’s been our home for four years, and I don’t look back with anything but gratitude. Having said that, if you’re going to go more, what’s exciting to me is it doesn’t feel like a tacked-on season for a season’s sake at all. For me as an actor, this show is pregnant with possibilities in terms of new writers and perhaps a new platform or a new home. There’s great faith in Callie Khouri, who was always the heart, right from the very beginning, alongside these new possibilities that it wouldn’t just be some added-on episodes at the end, that there could be some real magic left. There’s magic all over this thing. That’s always been a part of Nashville… The writing staff worked really hard for a long time, flying back and forth and making this all happen. Just as with the network, I’m grateful, but it’s hard not to be like, “Ooh, this could be interesting. This has a chance of being amazing.”

    TVLINE | Were there any alternate endings you guys shot for Rayna and Deacon?

    No, there were not.

    TVLINE | Last night, someone tweeted at me, “Deacon used his words!”

    [Laughs loudly]

    TVLINE | With that in mind, say we’re going into a fifth season —

    OK, let’s do that! [Laughs]

    TVLINE | — do you think Deacon has learned and grown? This season, we saw him repeat a lot of his mistakes.

    I think so. I definitely think so. It was always very important to me, as the actor, that you would see the arc of Deacon’s growth. For the longest time, in a real sense, he didn’t have to grow. That’s why people isolate themselves, because they’re not beholden to anybody and nobody can tell them what to do. But then suddenly he has Rayna in his life and on top of that he has these daughters, so now there is a reason. Even the best of guys, when you’re suddenly not a single guy after 25 years of it and you’re living in a house with these young women and your wife who’s beside you all the time and is cultured and mannered… he definitely had a way to go, with not much buffer room. So you would still see remnants of the guy who, for a time, had nothing to live for but more important had nothing to live right for…

    What this last season has shown is, how do you deal with grief when there’s other people around you that care about you, instead of just being on your own? He didn’t deal with Beverly’s grief with Rayna. He shut her out and he shut the girls out. He realized he couldn’t do that… All the things you do when there’s people around you that care, he hadn’t had that in a long time… That’s what I did like about a lot of that: Deacon learning that you now have these people you love and care about — that means you do have to make a whole lot of changes, not just the ones about your sobriety, but about the way you interact with the ones you love… In that last scene, they understood — fans that have been there a while — what a step it was for him to step back from the guy that had his arm around his daughter. He learned the hard way. But God bless him, he learned. [Laughs]

    TVLINE | Are you in possession of Deacon’s guitar strap?

    I’m in possession of it as we speak. I played with it last night. Talk about fitting: We were on stage at the Grand Ole Opry with Chris Carmack and Lennon and Maisy [Stella] doing a writers’ round right up until the show started, and later they aired it in the back room. Yeah, I had that strap with me. What is Charlton Heston’s old phrase? “From my cold dead hand!” [Laughs] Having said that, there’s a couple of them. Deacon even had a couple of them. [Production staff member] Mr. Danny Rowe has taken exquisite care of them — and me. So yeah [lowers voice to a whisper], I have it!

    Ratings: Nashville Ends (ABC) Run on Up Note, Draws 10-Week Audience High

    (5/26/16) ABC’s Nashville ended Season 4 — and likely at least its ABC run — with 4.2 million total viewers and a 0.9 demo rating, rising 12 percent and a tenth week-to-week to hit 10- and 6-week highs.

    Opening ABC’s last night of May Sweeps, a Finding Nemo broadcast reeled in 4.2 mil and a 1.3 rating.

    Elsewhere in the ratings….

    FOX | With Empire gone, Rosewood (3.4 mil/0.8) dropped 29 and 43 percent to season lows. Wayward Pines opened Season 2 with 3.1 mil/0.9, down from its freshman premiere and Season 1 average (both of which were 3.8 mil/1.0), as well as its finale (4 mil/1.2).”

    THE CW | Arrow (2.2 mil/0.8, average grade “C+”) was up 13 percent and a tenth with its finale, hitting a 4-week high in audience; versus its Season 3 finale, it was down 20 percent. Supernatural (1.9 mil/0.8) rose 17 percent and two tenths, drawing its best numbers since Feb. 17; versus its previous finale, it was up 12 percent and a tenth.

    NBC | Heartbeat (4.2 mil/0.7) and the Chicago PD finale (6.9 mil/1.4, average grade “A-“) were steady. Law & Order: SVU‘s finale (7.1 mil/1.5) surged 23 percent and two tenths to hit/equal its best numbers since Feb. 17/March 2.

    CBS | The Price Is Right‘s final primetime edition (6.7 mil/1.2) delivered its biggest audience of the three, with its demo landing right in the middle. The renewed Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders closed its freshman run with 5.6 mil/1.0 and 5.2 mil/1.0, down 10 percent and a tenth from its previous double pump average.

    Nashville Finale: Happy 'Javery' Reunion Scrapped in Favor of Ominous Cliffhanger — Find Out Why

    (5/25/16) Perhaps the only thing more alarming than the way Nashville ended its run Wednesday — with a cliffhanger involving a possibly fatal plane crash — is knowing that the ABC series shot a happy ending for the long-suffering Juliette and Avery, but that scene likely will never air.

    Lionsgate TV, one of the series’ producers, made what sources say is a strong case (business-wise, at least) to forego the upbeat ending in hopes of making the show more attractive to platforms that might pick it up for a possible Season 5, multiple sources tell TVLine.

    In the version of the episode broadcast Wednesday night, Juliette was feared dead after her private jet went missing. The alternate ending had Juliette’s plane touch down safely; an emotional reunion with ex-husband Avery followed soon after.

    Reps for ABC and Lionsgate declined to comment, but a source close to Lionsgate tells TVLine that the studio “is fully confident that there’s much more Nashville to be told. Tonight’s Season 4 finale ending speaks to that confidence. Not to frustrate or disappoint fans, rather Lionsgate, ABC Studios and Opry Entertainment are listening to fans’ outpouring of support online for more.”

    UPDATE: Lionsgate issued the following statement via Twitter immediately following the finale:

    @LionsgateTV : #Nashies What a cliffhanger! But we won’t leave you hanging. There's more story to be told. #BringBackNashville

    ABC cancelled Nashville on May 12. In the weeks since, Lionsgate has said it has been having “numerous talks with interested networks” and has exhorted fans to append #BringBackNashville to their tweets.

    ‘Nashville’ Creator & Producers On Finale: “We Have Stories Left To Tell”

    (5/25/16) Country music drama Nashville tonight wrapped its four-season run on ABC with a finale that ended with a cliffhanger. It was an intentional move by the show’s creator Callie Khouri and lead studio Lionsgate TV as I hear that an alternative, series finale ending, also had been filmed. That is because the studio is optimistic that it would find another home for the show.

    Neither Oscar winner Khouri not Lionsgate are ready to close the book on Nashville, they told Deadline exclusively.

    “Nashville fans are the absolute best, and support for the #BringBackNashville campaign has been amazing,” Khouri said. “We are so grateful for our extremely loyal following. We have stories left to tell and songs left to sing.”

    The #BringBackNashville social media campaign has been growing, with a petition garnering more than 100,000 signatures to date.

    In a tweet at the conclusion of tonight’s finale, Lionsgate TV assured fans that there will be more Nashville.

    The studio already has Season 5 mapped out, as it had funded a writers room led by new showrunners Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick, who were to succeed departing original showrunner Dee Johnson.

    “Lionsgate, ABC Studios and Opry Entertainment couldn’t have asked for better partners on Nashville than ABC, as together we created a drama that has captivated viewers worldwide and turned #Nashies into a potent group of superfans,” Lionsgate Television Chairman Kevin Beggs told Deadline. “We want to thank creator Callie Khouri and showrunner Dee Johnson for their inspiration and guidance through tonight’s exciting season finale, and know that more of the Nashville story is waiting to be told.”

    Nashville Series Finale Recap: Plane Wrong

    (5/25/16) It’s over, y’all.

    Nashville‘s series finale aired Wednesday night, bringing to an end the saga of Rayna Jaymes, Juliette Barnes and the rest of the players in their soapy, soulful Music City circle. The finale itself followed the formula for a steel-toe-boot-to-the-heart country song: one part lovin’, two parts tears, 10 parts near-certain tragedy and one part repentant teenager, praise Reba.

    But because these recaps have always come from a place of love, let’s start with the happier stuff first. Rayna-Deacon fans were rewarded with the couple’s reconciliation — that marriage counselor apparently was really good at his job — which came as they successfully freed daughter Maddie from the clutches of a predatory producer.

    And Scarlett and Gunnar surmounted interloping country stars, the demands of fledgling fame and many hemp chokers, finding their way back to each other in the wake of his tryst with Autumn. So that’s good, right?

    Yeah, I know — it’s hard to celebrate small victories while a chasm of unresolved Javery yawns before us. And yawn it will, for eternity or until the series gets picked up by another network or platform, whichever comes first. (Spoiler alert: Magic 8 Ball says: “Signs point toward eternity.”)

    Read on for the highlights of “Maybe You’ll Appreciate Me Someday.”

    * Maddie’s new label hooks her up with a New York producer, and when the teen posts a selfie with the man to Instagram — duckface and all — Rayna recognizes him as a predatory creep who played the Dr. Luke to her Kesha back in the day. Vowing to save her kid from a similar fate, Rayna writes a letter about her experiences with the producer (and as a woman in the business) and has it published in the Huffington Post.

    Later, while Rayna and Daphne take the stage at Rayna’s sold-out benefit concert for FosterMore — at the same time that Deacon is mysteriously MIA — Maddie reads her mom’s open letter online and then tells the producer she wants to leave. He objects in the grossest way possible, forcing a drink into her hand and telling her he thought she wanted “a real, grown-up career.”

    Just then, Deacon busts in, gets Maddie out of there and doesn’t beat the producer to a pulp, which is progress! Cash shows up and apologizes for basically feeing her “friend” to a letch, and Deacon tells his daughter it’s her choice who she wants to go with. Cut to the FosterMore concert, where Maddie runs into her mom’s arms while Deacon looks on approvingly. “You brought her back,” Rayna says, kissing Deke. “Thank you.”

    * When professional hater Cynthia Davis refuses to interview Will on her show (something about him being an “avowed homosexual,” which is just the dumbest damn thing you can say), Luke and Will ask Kevin — aka “The only link to the community that I have,” Will says, which, what? The only link ASIDE FROM ACTUALLY BEING GAY YOURSELF — to help them drum up a protest and concert outside her studio. It works: Cynthia agrees to have Will on her show that day, provided the spectacle outside the building shuts down.

    When the cameras roll, Cynthia kicks off her show by referring to Will’s “homosexual agenda” as — I kid you not — “domestic terrorism.” But Luke realizes that she’s scared that her audience “might recognize me… as their brother or their cousin or their friend or their co-worker.” As her vitriol increases, Will only gets friendlier and warmer. “There’s nothing to be scared of here,” he reassures her.

    The interview is a hit, and Will exits the studio to see the crowd — and a very happy Kevin — waiting for him. They reunite. Yay!

    * The lead-up to the Oscars is marred for Juliette when a paparazzo approaches her with allegations of her involvement in Jeff’s death. (Ju, honey, after all this time, The gossip site the guy works for got its tip from Layla, and Ms. Grant goes a step further when she lets Jeff’s sister know that Colt Wheeler saw everything that went down (literally) on the night of Fordham’s death. And when a distraught Juliette won’t take Avery’s concerned calls, he figures that she’s changed her mind about wanting him and Cadence by her side in Los Angeles for her big night.

    But Luke calls Avery and makes him aware that Colt told Layla about Jeff and Juliette at Deacon and Rayna’s wedding… at the same time that Glenn informs Ms. Grant that he knows she tipped off the press about Juliette, and therefore he’s no longer her manager. “What was I to you? A target? Some kind of revenge?” Avery asks, finally realizing that the woman he’s been sleeping with is “crazy, and we’re done.”

    Having paid off Kate Fordham — to the tune of $3 million — Juliette laments that everything about her life is built on lies. “Tell me how I can help you,” Glenn asks. “You can’t,” she spits. So she arranges for a sit-down interview AT THE OSCARS in which she tells all about her involvement in Jeff’s death and her suicide attempt. At home, Avery watches with tears in his eyes, then calls his ex-wife and lets her know that he and Cadence are there for her.

    So Juliette leaves the Oscars — she didn’t win, anyway — and boards her jet back to Nashville. But somewhere between the West and East Coasts, Avery, who’s waiting at the airport for her, gets word that Ju’s plane has gone missing. And… that’s it!

    * Scarlett blurts out to Gunnar that she loves him… before he can tell her that he and Autumn have spent the past two weeks in Aruba, fleshing out each other’s harmonies, if you catch my drift. (Look, after four years, my cache of musical double entendres is growing a little thin.) With Autumn whispering that Scarlett’s a manipulator and that he should just stay on the tour as a solo artist, The Exes prepare to play their last show before breaking up. Right before they go on stage, Scarlett decides to come completely clean with her bandmate… which leads to them kissing on stage… which leads to Autumn firing them.

    Chiwetel Ejiofor, Connie Britton, Margot Robbie & More Join NBC’s ‘Red Nose Day Special’

    (5/24/16) Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tony Hale, Iwan Rheon, Sterling K. Brown, Yvette Nicole Brown, Margot Robbie, Jane Lynch, Connie Britton, Jay Pharaoh and Mayim Bialik are among the celebrities who have signed on for NBC’s Red Nose Day Special. The fundraiser that aims to help lift kids out of poverty will be broadcast live on May 26 from 9-11 PM ET on NBC. The special, hosted by Craig Ferguson, features comedy, music performances, and short films that shed light on children in need here at home and around the world.

    Also scheduled for the special are Ellen DeGeneres, Jack Black, Paul Rudd, Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson, Sarah Silverman, Tracy Morgan, Key & Peele, Anna Kendrick, Seth Rogen, Zac Efron and Ellie Kemper, along with Kristen Bell, Emma Watson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Rose Byrne, Blake Griffin, Emma Thompson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Steve Buscemi, Danny Trejo, Adam Devine and Ron Funches. Additional talent will be announced at a later date.

    Created by Oscar nominee and Emmy Award-winning writer-director Richard Curtis, (Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill), the idea of Red Nose Day was built upon the foundation that mass media and celebrities can help raise money and awareness of poverty to save and change millions of lives.

    Red Nose Day has raised over $1 billion globally in the last 25 years, and in the UK has become a cultural phenomenon where people across the country come together to have fun, raise money and change lives. Red Nose Day launched in the U.S. in 2015, and raised more than $23 million, with the money now at work in all 50 states and 15 countries internationally through programs to keep children and young people safe, healthy and educated.

    Is Nashville Star Alicia Witt the Smartest Woman in Hollywood?

    (5/24/16) Nashville may be canceled, but newcomer Alicia Witt has plenty of other talents to fall back on – in fact, she may just be one of the smartest actresses in Hollywood.

    Before she was an actress, Witt was a child prodigy and classical pianist. She was cast on her first film, David Lynch's Dune after his casting director saw her recite Shakespeare on That's Incredible when she was just 5 years old.

    "Childhood was wacky!" Witt tells PEOPLE with a laugh. "When I was little I played piano and traveled all over competing, but I knew by the time I was 14 that I didn't want to pursue that as a career. I wanted to write and sing my own songs."

    Witt eventually released an album of her own while continuing to act in film and TV and show off her smarts on shows like Celebrity Jeopardy!

    "The first time I was on it I won, but the second time I was beat by Fred Savage, who was going to Stanford at the time," she says.

    Witt, who was in the other popular Lynch vehicle Twin Peaks will also appear in Showtime's upcoming reboot.

    "It was really odd. In some ways, being back there felt like time hadn't moved forward at all," Witt says of heading back to Washington to reprise her role. "I wasn't allowed to tell anybody while I was doing it. Now I can finally talk about it!"

    Nashville series finale airs Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on ABC, and Twin Peaks is slated to hit Showtime in 2017.

    Ratings: Empire Season 2 Finale Delivers 6-Week Highs

    (5/19/16) Fox’s Empire wrapped its sophomore run on Wednesday with 10.8 million total viewers and a 4.0 demo rating, rising 10 and 8 percent to hit six-week highs. Versus its freshman finale (17.6 mil/6.9), however, it was obviously down sharply.

    Opening Fox’s night, Rosewood (4.7 mil/1.4) was up 9 and 27 percent to match its best numbers since Dec. 2.

    Elsewhere in the ratings….

    THE CW | Arrow (2.15 mil/0.8) and Supernatural (1.92 mil/0.7) were steady.

    CBS | Survivor (9.6 mil/2.1) was steady week-to-week and off just a tenth from its previous finale. The reunion show (6.8 mil/1.5) was down two tenths from last season.

    NBC | Heartbeat (3.8 mil/0.7) and Chicago P.D. (6.9 mil/1.4) were steady, while SVU (5.6 mil/1.2) slipped 11 percent and two tenths.

    ABC | The Goldbergs (6.3 mil/1.8) dipped a tenth while everything else was flat.

    Nashville Recap: Beginning of the End

    (5/18/16) The title of this week’s Nashville episode is “It’s Sure Gonna Hurt.” And given the series’ recent cancellation, well, it does.

    Not because the hour is kicked off by a cameo featuring the co-hosts of The View (though that is painful). Or because after all these seasons, the show still can’t find something for Will to do other than “be gay.” Or because Elton John guest-stars mainly to prop Gunnar’s ego. Or even because Derek Hough tries to make spaghetti squash sound interesting.

    This week’s Nashville is a hard one because, by tossing Rayna and Deacon into an intensive couples’ therapy session that forces them to review their entire relationship, we’re reminded once more that these two are the heart of the series. And though that heart is stuck on a destructive carousel and often sacrificed at the altar of less satisfying storylines, it’s still tickin’, y’all.

    What might Rayna and Deacon’s love story, fraught though it may be, have looked like in a rejuvenated, revamped, Herkovitz-and-Zwicked Season 5? Would it have been Big Red-on-Deke’s-doorstep-Season-1 good? Would it have been so different from what came before, it would’ve felt disconnected from the rest of the couple’s narrative? Unfortunately, we’ll likely never find out. And yeah, I’m bummed about that.

    But there’s a little more rock left in this crocodile, so let’s get to the highlights of the hour.

    WERK WERK WERK WERK WERK IT OUT | Rayna and Deacon have booked the entire day with a marriage counselor, and they spend the time crying, yelling, looking hurt and bemoaning the cycle they always seem to find themselves in: “Betrayal, destruction, abandonment, forgiveness,” Rayna says as Deacon sits so far away from her, it looks like he’s trying to merge his physical being with the couch.

    After separate sessions, the therapist helps Rayna see that she has a history of gravitating toward men who let her down (like Deacon and her dad), and Deke has a “great sense of guilt and remorse” about… pretty much everything related to Rayna. “The tough question you both have to answer is: What are you both getting out of this relationship?” the counselor asks them. Ooh, ooh! I know this one! Heartbreak and ulcers?

    After a nearly silent ride home, Deacon declares, “I’m done being the screw-up in your life” and basically tells Rayna the ball’s in her court as to what comes next. But after they both agree that their chief desire is to bring Maddie home — UGH Maddie, why is everything about you?! — there is a tiny thawing when Rayna tentatively touches her husband’s back in bed that night, and he slowly reaches for her hand. You’re totally going to leave Rayna and Deacon in a not-great place, aren’t you, Nashville?

    I GUESS THAT’S WHY THEY CALL THEM THE BLUES | Autumn’s tour is on a break, so Scarlett goes to Chicago to shoot that headphones ad they talked about last episode. And Gunnar joins Autumn on a jaunt to Boston “to see my old friend, Elton John” and DOUBLE UGH to you, lady.

    So while a photographer pokes at Scarlett’s emotional soft bits in order to get a truthful shot — because God knows, when I’m ugly crying, I want someone with an expensive lens and no sense of boundaries all up in my face — Gunnar gets invited on stage by Sir Elton himself. “Please give a big welcome to Gunnar Scott!” Elton shouts to the crowd. “Who is that?” the crowd shouts back. (I kid.)

    After the show, Gunnar is primed to buy what Autumn is selling: that he’s a solo-caliber artist who deserves to strike out on his own. Oh, “and in case it wasn’t already abundantly clear, I like you, Gunnar. A lot,” Autumn chirps. So while Scarlett is sobbing to Noel that “I’m in love with him, in love with Gunnar,” Gunny is getting ready to shag Autumn and HOLY SAM PALLADIO TORSO. Suddenly, I’m not so against this storyline.

    NOAH IS NUMBINGLY NORMAL | Noah decides he and Juliette need to spend normal people time together, so he flies to Nashville and shows up on her doorstep. But sadly, the Hollywood star turns out to be just kind of a boring guy who’s good with Cadence and knows his way around starchy vegetables.

    But Noah’s appearance in Music City is enough to rile up Avery, who spends a significant amount of Layla’s album-release performance at The Bluebird preoccupied thinking about how many times Noah may or may not have Shenandoah’d his girl. And when Layla realizes, she causes just enough drama to turn the focus back to her. Gross. (Also, you wanted Avery’s tie to “match” your… black dress, Layla? It’s not exactly salmon or celery or cerulean. Couldn’t he literally reach into his closet blindfolded and pick an ensemble that would complement your LBD?)

    A DAD REDEEMED | After that View bit, in which Luke once more defends Will against the Cynthia Davises of the world and Raven Symone nearly looks directly into the camera, the men of Wheelin’ Dealin’ Records decide that it’s time for Will to start doing his own press. But then Luke gets a call from the infirmary at Fort Benning, where Colt is stationed, and he has to hurry to his son’s side.

    So Will handles a radio interview on his own, and it goes so well that a young gay man seeks out the singer at his home and informs him that he’s a role model who had a positive impact by living his “truth.” The encounter revitalizes Will, who decides that he’s going to go on Davis’ talk show and confront the bigoted bully in person.

    Speaking of bigoted bullies, turns out that Colt’s arm is broken and his head is concussed because he fought some homophobic jerks on the base who were talking smack about Luke defending Will. And though he’s in rough shape, he’s proud of his dad for once, so maybe the stitches are worth it.

    ABC Boss on Castle and Nashville Cuts, Shorter Breaks, the Future of #TGIT

    (5/17/16) Speaking to the press in her first Upfronts Week conference call since succeeding Paul Lee as the president of ABC Entertainment, Channing Dungey weighed in on the very recent decisions to end both Castle and Nashville.

    Alluding to, among other things, how the former was set to move forward without leading lady Stana Katic, Dungey said, “The studios in each case were looking for the best creative and financial ways to make room [for new seasons]. They were definitely engaged in conversations [about how to] set them up for the best of success, should they get the order.” ABC meanwhile took stock of the ratings, their own financial situation and the new dramas in development, “and at the end of the day… the future for us did not necessarily lie in those shows.”

    Among the other topics the ABC boss covered:

    GOODBYE, LONG WINTER NAPS? | Dungey told TVLine, “We’re not doing as big a gap strategy as we may have done in the past,” with regards to benching shows such as Once Upon a Time and Grey’s Anatomy for multiple months at midseason. “There’s going to be certain shows that have slightly longer breaks, and certain ones that have very short breaks. I would prefer not to have big gaps, but this is the beginning of the evolution of this new strategy.”

    A ‘DARKER’ S.H.I.E.L.D. | Moving Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to the Tuesdays-at-10 slot will allow the series to “go a little bit edgier, a little darker, and take some risks,” Dungey said — though the later berth was more a result of wanting to establish a new two-hour comedy block on Tuesday, and not so much a desire to move S.H.I.E.L.D. As for ABC ever hosting other Marvel projects — the S.H.I.E.L.D. spinoff Marvel’s Most Wanted didn’t make the cut for next season — Dungey said that coming off a recent meeting with Marvel publisher Dan Buckley, “We’re very excited about a few things we have in development,” with the eye on “[making] sure what we do next feels like it’s going to help expand both of our brands.”

    #TGIT IN TRANSITION | With Scandal on hold until midseason, Dungey said “it made sense” to give a new drama — the real life-inspired Notorious (starring Piper Perabo and Daniel Sunjata) — in the cushy Thursdays-at-9 slot. (As for whether ABC’s Thursday slate will still be marketed as “#TGIT” with a non-Shondaland show in the mix, Dungey said it was too early to discuss marketing plans for the fall.) Wherefor art Shondaland’s Romeo & Juliet sequel series? Still Star-Crossed “was always intended to be a midseason show, because it’s a big, epic, sweeping period saga, and we wanted to make sure we had enough time to produce it in the way it needed to be produced,” Dungey explained, while holding The Catch for midseason, where it will again air out of the Grey’s Anatomy/Scandal combo, offers “consistency” for the viewer.

    Connie Britton "So Upset" After Nashville Cancellation

    (5/17/16) Connie Britton, wouldn't be returning for a fifth season. While on Late Night with Seth Meyers Monday, she talked about how she felt in the aftermath of the network's decision to cancel, calling it bittersweet.

    "I'll talk to my Nashville friends, and they're all devastated," said Britton, who lived in Nashville about 10 months out of a year during filming. " It's a real bummer also for the town too. I'm going to miss those people so much. I'm so upset, then I talk to my friends in L.A., and they're like, 'We're so happy you're coming home.' So I'm just like, I don't know what I feel!"

    ABC cancels Nashville.

    She's been raising her son, who she adopted from Ethiopia in 2011, in the city. "He's 5, and we've been doing the show there for four years, so it's a big deal. It's over. The end of an era. I think he's going to just ditch me now because he's like, 'I'm staying in Nashville now. These people are cool. I'm learning how to play the drums. See you later.'"

    As for the show, (as well as the recently ended Castle), ABC president Channing Dungey told press, "At the end of the day, it didn't feel that -- even though Castle and Nashville were wonderful shows for us and good performers for a long time -- that the future for us did not necessarily lie in those shows."

    Connie Britton Reacts to Nashville Cancellation: 'I Am Forever Changed'

    (5/15/16) Rayna Jaymes may never tour again, thanks to Nashville‘s recent cancellation, but Connie Britton wants fans to know that the ABC series’ place in her heart “is deep and permanent.”

    On Thursday, ABC chose not to renew the country-music drama for a fifth season. The actress recently posted a note to her Instagram account, thanking the drama’s cast, crew and fans of the country-music drama for their support over the show’s run.

    “I’d just like to say it’s been my honor to be a part of this world, to live in it and breathe it in and try to replicate it,” Britton wrote.

    She also seemed to reference Nashville‘s missteps, such as the current, polarizing Maddie-emancipation storyline. “Sometimes we were more successful than others. But the place of Nashville in my heart is deep and permanent,” she wrote. “And I am forever changed for the better.”

    On a related note, Lionsgate TV — which produced Nashville with ABC Studios — tweeted on Friday that it was “working hard” to find a new home for the series.You can read Britton’s message in full below:

    To the amazing friends and family who are Nashville, to the cast and crew, and most of all to the fans...I'd just like to say it's been my honor to be a part of this world, to live in it and breathe it in and try to replicate it. Sometimes we were more successful than others. But the place of Nashville in my heart is deep and permanent. I am grateful for the hard work and faith of so many who dedicated themselves to creating and supporting this show. And I am forever changed for the better. Thanks for the music.

    Don’t despair yet, ‘Nashville’ fans! The show could get renewed on a new network

    (5/13/16) The news that “Nashville” would not be returning to ABC for a fifth season was upsetting, but not entirely surprising. The show has not maintained typical ABC ratings, and spending the last few years on the bubble during renewal season, it had to burst sometime.

    Twitter was immediately flooded with enraged tweets from fans of the show, and more than a few cast members joined in on the impromptu mourning session.

    Lucky for fans of the country music drama, “Nashville” might not be as dead as we all believed.

    According to Lionsgate television group chairman Kevin Beggs, the show is looking for a new network to renew them. “We’re looking for a new home. We never give up on a great show,” he says.

    The obvious choice for a pickup would be Hulu, which is doing great things with FOX’s former sitcom “The Mindy Project.” Netflix could also be an option, since ratings are not especially troubling or important the streaming service.

    Nashville Stars React to the Show's Cancellation: "I Wish it Was Handled With More Care"

    (5/13/16) It's a sad day in Nashville, y'all.

    After four seasons, ABC decided to cancel Nashville on Thursday. And while the stars and fans of the country music drama are pretty upset over the news, no one seems to be taking it harder than the city of Nashville, which enjoyed increased tourist revenue after the show's debut in 2012.

    "We are incredibly disappointed to hear the news that ABC has not renewed the show Nashville for another season," mayor Megan Barry tweeted on Thursday. "The show has been an enormously successful promotional tool for our city, which is why the State of Tennessee and Metro Nashville were prepared to support production for a fifth season to be filmed here."

    Alas, it was not meant to be.

    Barry continued, "This is a loss for ABC and for the millions of fans across the world who have grown to love this show."

    Nashville's stars also expressed their sadness over the cancellation on social media, including Charles Esten, who plays fan-favorite leading man Deacon. "So grateful to so many for the dream that has been #Nashville," he wrote. "Not always easy to be Deacon. But to play him? An absolute joy and an honor."

    Chris Carmack tweeted, "#Nashville will be so cherished by so many... Trying to wrap my head around it..."

    Aubrey Peeples added, "I'm so thankful I was a part of a special show," but hinted that she didn't think ABC treated the show that way it deserved to be treated. "I wish it was handled with more care. thank you to every fan who kept us going #Nashville."

    While stars Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere have yet to react to the news, boss Callie Khouri tweeted, "With a heavy heart, I thank all our incredible fans for all of your love, huge thanks to the city of Nashville. See you on down the road."

    Nashville's finale airs Wednesday, May 25 on ABC.

    Nashville Cancelled at ABC

    (5/12/16) And just like that, the ballad of Rayna and Deacon is done: ABC has cancelled Nashville, our sister site Deadline reports.

    Season 5 would have found the country-music drama under the leadership of new showrunners: thirtysomething‘s Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick were set to replace Dee Johnson, who was stepping down from the role.

    The Season 4 finale — which now likely will serve as its series finale — airs Wednesday, May 25.

    Hayden Panettiere Taking "Time to Reflect Holistically" on Health & Life Following Postpartum Depression Battle

    (5/12/16) Hayden Panettiere has been very open about her battle with postpartum depression and knows there is no shame whatsoever in seeking help.

    The Nashville star, who welcomed daughter Kaya in December 2014, let fans know Thursday via Twitter that as a result of her postpartum depression experience, she would be taking some time to take care of herself.

    "The postpartum depression I have been experiencing has impacted every aspect of my life," wrote Hayden, 26. "Rather than stay stuck due to unhealthy coping mechanisms I have chosen to take time to reflect holistically on my health and life. Wish me luck!"

    We definitely wish Hayden the best and applaud her to help de-stigmatize the issue of postpartum depression and what follows it. "It's something a lot of women experience," she said on Live! With Kelly and Michael back in September. "But you don't realize how broad of a spectrum you can really experience that on. It's something that needs to be talked about. Women need to know that they're not alone, and that it does heal."

    Hayden checked into a treatment center this past October for her postpartum depression. After voluntarily seeking treatment, she continued to be open about her experiences, telling Yahoo! Style earlier this year that she was "floored" by the amount of love she received after speaking out.

    "The more open I was, the more acceptance I got from people," she said. "I got so much support and so much love. I was floored. I feel much more exposed, yes, but in a great way."

    Jonathan Jackson + Enation on Releasing New EP, Blame-Shifter: 'We Wanted to Tackle Making an Edgier, Rock Album'

    (5/12/16) Jonathan Jackson and his band, Enation, are back!

    The band, who have been making music together for over a decade, knew exactly the direction they wanted to take their next EP, Blame-shifter.

    "We wanted to tackle making an edgier, rock album and just kind of wanted to give more of a feel of what it's like when we perform live," Jackson, 34, tells PEOPLE exclusively. "That was the musical angle. The lyrical angle, Blame-shifter, just came from a book I was reading that I was very inspired by. It's just the idea of instead of being defensive and shifting the blame to just accepting it."

    Jackson, who is known for his role as Avery Barkley on the hit show Nashville, says music has always been a major part of his life.

    "When I lived in L.A. as a teenager, I was always playing the Sunset Strip, Whisky a Go Go, The Roxy, The Viper Room and all those clubs," he says. "We've been doing it for a long time. Then, going to Nashville and starting that show was amazing because all of the musical experience that I had was able to be used in the show. So, those two worlds have come together now."

    As an artist of many realms, Jackson has mentioned that he can be inspired by everything around him.

    "Inspiration for songs comes from all over the place really," he previously told PEOPLE. "A lot of it is personal experiences and there are times where you sort of take on a character and write from that character's perspective. Though sometimes the songs aren't autobiographical, they express things that you're thinking about or that you care about."

    With their EP being released Friday, the band will be kicking off their tour on Sunday and couldn't be more thrilled.

    "It's really just the experience of entering into the music with the audience and creating an atmosphere," says Jackson. "Music is a really powerful thing. It's changed my life in many ways and has meant so much to me that to be able to share that experience with other people – that's really the most special thing for me."

    The CW Orders Frequency to Series

    (5/12/16) Congratulations are in order for a pilot graduating to full-fledged series on The CW’s 2016–2017 schedule.

    The network on Thursday announced official pick-up for Frequency.

    The new series official loglines, as well as casting details, are below:

    FREQUENCY | Logline: “In this reimagining of the New Line Cinema film, a female police detective in 2016 discovers she is able to speak via a ham radio with her estranged father (also a detective) who died in 1996. They forge a new relationship while working together on an unresolved murder case, but unintended consequences of the ‘butterfly effect’ wreak havoc in the present day.”

    The cast includes Riley Smith (Nashville, True Blood), Mekhi Phifer (ER), Peyton List (The Flash, The Tomorrow People), Lenny Jacobson (Nurse Jackie), Anthony Ruivivar (Third Watch), Devin Kelley (Chernobyl Diaries) and Daniel Bonjour (The Walking Dead).

    Ratings: P.D. Rises With Spinoff Pilot; SVU, Arrow Rebound From Lows

    (5/12/16) Law & Order: SVU this Wednesday drew 5.9 million total viewers and a 1.4 rating, rebounding 11 and 27 percent from last week’s series lows.

    Leading out of that, Chicago P.D.’s planted Chicago Justice spinoff pilot did 6.7 mil and a 1.4, up a tenth from last week’s season low. (In a TVLine poll, 81 percent said they would “definitely” or “maybe” watch the latest #OneChicago offering.) Opening the Peacock’s night, Heartbeat (4.3 mil/0.7) dipped a tenth.

    Elsewhere in the ratings….

    THE CW | Arrow (2.2 mil/0.8) ticked up from last week’s series lows; Supernatural (1.75 mil/0.7) also was up.

    FOX | Rosewood (4.8 mil/1.2) and Empire (9.7 mil/3.6) were both steady.

    CBS | Survivor (9.4 mil/2.1) was steady. Both Beyond Borders episodes (6 mil/1.1, 5.9 mil/1.1) were off a tenth from last week.

    ABC | The Middle (6.6 mil/1.6), The Goldbergs (6.1 mil/1.8) and Modern Family (7.1 mil/2.1) all ticked down, black-ish (5.4 mil/1.6) was steady and bubble drama Nashville (4 mil/0.9) rose a tenth.

    Nashville Recap: All Over But the Cryin'

    (5/12/16) Here’s a short list of things I’d endure, rather than have Rayna Jaymes ominously warn me — as she does master-Maddie-manipulator Cash in this week’s Nashville — that “I’ve got my eye on you”:

    I’d sit, eyes propped open with that Clockwork Orange contraption, through the entire depressing run of Will and Layla’s reality series. I’d pretend to care while Luke Wheeler waxed rhapsodic about his “brand.” I’d give Glenn’s toupee its nightly combing. I’d serve as Gunnar and Scarlett’s couples’ counselor. I’d even trim Layla’s bangs (but I’d probably roll my eyes a lot while doing so).

    In short, I’d do pretty much anything not to be on the receiving end of Rayna’s mama-bear anger, buttressed by her frustration with Deacon and exacerbated by the knowledge that Maddie is treading the exact same trouble-laden path Rayna herself forged as an emancipated teen. Big Red is an intimidating presence when she wants to be, y’all.

    Elsewhere in the episode, Will suffers a terrible loss, Juliette has sex with a Shenandoah guy, and Deacon gets fatalistic real fast. Oh, and Kesha! Read on for the highlights of “After You’ve Gone.”

    INTRODUCING MADDIE JAYMES | In the week since Maddie won her freedom, Deacon’s been scrubbing walls in a reflective orange vest, Rayna’s been singing on her tour (remember that? Because I sure didn’t) and crying on her jet, and Daphne’s been ignoring her sister’s apologetic texts. Over at Camp Maddie, the teen worries that it’s too soon to play a showcase for record-label executives, but Cash — as always — steamrolls her, insisting that they strike while the emancipated iron is hot.

    When Rayna gets word of the showcase, thanks to Bucky, she works overtime to make sure that the New York-based Lennox Hill doesn’t get its hooks into her daughter. She even shows up at the event — restraining order be damned! — just in time to see Maddie JAYMES (“I wonder whose idea that was?” Rayna snarks to Cash, who seeks her out in the wings) take the stage in a leather miniskirt. As Mads sings “Wild Card,” her mom makes the aforementioned veiled threat to the blonde interloper… who seems nonplussed. “She’s not your daughter anymore,” Cash notes. The nerve!

    Elsewhere in town, Deacon gets some straight talk in a phone call from Scarlett (“You have some fault in this”), tries to make things right with Frankie (who informs Deke he’s going to buy him out of The Beverly or else), and winds up telling the attendees of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, “I have tried like hell to be a good man, to walk the straight and the narrow, and none of it mattered. Because I lost it all.” Deacon, honey: IT’S BEEN ONE WEEK.

    HISTORY REPEATING | Thanks to a brief meeting with Juliette, who advises Maddie to go back to the family that loves her, the young artist at least has Glenn on her side when the offers start coming in. (And having him around ticks Cash off, so I approve.) Glenn advises Maddie to take an offer from the Nashville-based Tupelo Hill, but Cash says the label head is a good friend of Rayna’s, so it’s no dice. Maddie winds up going with Lennox Hill — a “clean break,” as Cash puts it — and Rayna tearfully laments to Tandy that her daughter is lost.

    Over at his place, where he’s been sleeping, Deacon fondles a bottle of booze and is about to open it when he gets a call from Rayna, which staves off some major drama… at least for now. I am aware that relapses happen, and that they are a big/awful part of what it means to be in recovery, but please don’t make me watch Deacon and Rayna go through that again, Nashville. My achy breaky heart can only ache and break so much in a season, you dig?

    A TOUGH GOODBYE MADE HARDER | Will’s bad week following Luke’s botched Cynthia Davis interview gets way worse when his Aunt Betty calls: Will’s mom has died. He drives all night to reach his childhood home, where his ogre of a father hasn’t achieved much in the way of personal growth since the last time we saw him. Mr. Lexington Sr. wastes no time telling his son that they’ve burned all the photos of him, and he’s not welcome at his mother’s service the next day. But Will shows up anyway, gives a brief speech, then later confronts his dad about being a homophobic jerk and bad husband. Apparently, something gets through Papa Lexington’s bigoted skull, because he intercedes when someone casually calls Will a “homo” outside the wake. I suppose even the most infinitesimal of baby steps still counts as progress, right?

    IN WHICH NOAH RESURFACES | Avery plays a pretty awesome new song called “Kinda Dig the Feeling” at an intimate venue, and afterwards, he and Layla are all over each other outside the club. A photographer snaps a few shots, which soon wind up on a gossip site’s homepage (along with a photo in which Juliette I think is supposed to look angry/upset but instead just appears to be mid-sneeze).

    Reactions to the photos are mixed. Layla is over the moon… until she realizes that Avery isn’t jazzed to be part of another tabloid-fodder couple. Juliette, meanwhile, completely freaks out, demanding that Emily help her find someone hot to accompany her to all the pre-Oscar events for Shenandoah Girl.

    The guy who gets the gig is a lunk, but it doesn’t matter, because Noah’s at one of the parties with Kesha (excuse me, Ke$ha) on his arm. But they’re just friends, and he’s really into Juliette, and the pair wind up sharing a dance and then a bed. And he wants to make this a thing, which surprises and — I think? — delights her. (Side note: Juliette dejectedly snacking out of the bar’s garnish box and Hayden Panettiere’s bit with that toothpick might be the best thing I’ll see on TV all week.)

    Oh, and that photographer? Layla totally hired him. And it worked, because once Avery calms down, she’s still got the guy. And now she’s got a whole bunch of interview requests, too. But Glenn’s onto you, lady!

    BREAKING UP THE BAND? | The Rolling Stone article on The Exes comes out, but it makes it seem like Scarlett’s the frontwoman. This irks Gunnar, who later writes a song with Autumn. I’ll say it again: That lady is so damn squirrely, I half expect her to bound across my front yard with a cheekful of acorns. Scarlett gets an offer to do a photo shoot for some headphones, but they just want “female artists,” and though Gunnar is, on so many levels, more of a girl than most women I know — the attention to hair product alone! — he doesn’t count. Still, taking part in something like that without the other half of her band gives her pause. But after learning about Gunnar’s extracurricular activities, Scar signs on for the shoot. As she bitterly notes, “Whatever’s best for the band, right?”

    ‘Nashville’: ABC Launches Virtual Reality Digital Specials; Precursor To Renewal?

    (5/11/16) Well, this is an interesting timing — as ABC is finalizing its renewal decisions for next season this week, the network just announced today’s launch of a string of three Nashville Virtual Reality specials, part of its ongoing “On the Record” digital series. Set at the show’s popular Bluebird Café, the three specials are set for release over the next three weeks, with the third coinciding with the Season 4 finale on May 25.

    The initiative is either a case of astute thinking ahead to Season 5 or a case of two divisions of the company — primetime entertainment and digital — being a little out of synch. Signs have been positive on a Season 5 renewal for Nashville, co-produced by Lionsgate TV and ABC Studios, with even a full-season order considered a possibility. There had been excitement at the network over the hire by Lionsgate TV of veterans Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick, who already are working with writers on breaking stories for next season.

    Still, with Castle also on the bubble, coming off a highly rated episode on Monday, if ABC has to keep one, the scales will likely tip in favor of the veteran procedural, which is fully owned by ABC. But Nashville is considered a viable possibility.

    While not a strong ratings performer, the music drama has solid DVR bumps. Nashville also is a brand for ABC, with Nashville-themed TV music specials, soundtracks, tours, and now a VR digital extension.

    ABC Invites Fans to Nashville’s Iconic Bluebird Café in a Series of Intimate ‘Nashville: On the Record’ Virtual Reality Experiences

    (5/11/16) Beginning today, fans are invited to join the stars of ABC’s acclaimed primetime series “Nashville” in series of virtual reality experiences set at the iconic Bluebird Café, one of country music’s most storied listening rooms. Part of its ongoing “On the Record” digital series, ABC shot three “In the Round” musical performances with cast and singer/songwriters from the show, as well as a performance scene from the show featuring Layla (Aubrey Peeples) and Avery (Jonathan Jackson) in the middle of a very telling moment. The experience can be accessed on and via Littlstar’s app for headsets, mobile, Apple TV and the web.

    “If music is the heart of our show, then the Bluebird Café is its soul,” said Dawn Soler, senior vice president of music at ABC Television. “Its signature ‘In the Round’ format is what makes it so unique. Singer/songwriters pull up chairs and perform in a circle in the middle of the café. They play, sing, tell stories, and basically just have fun with the music, the audience and with each other. With this VR experience, fans will literally be at the center of it all. It’s a perfect format for virtual reality and a natural extension of ‘On the Record.’”

    “As storytellers, we strive to create a world rich with characters and stories that fans will want to completely loose themselves in,” said Chris Thomes, vice president, Digital Media Studios, Disney|ABC Television Group. “Nashville fans love the music, and with VR, we can bring that world to life for them in way that is completely authentic and immersive.”

    The “Nashville: On the Record VR ‘In the Round at the Bluebird’” episodes will be available as follows:

    May 11 – Features performances by Charles Esten, singing “Let’s Do This Thing,” as well as a duet with Jaida Dreyer on “This Town.” Jonathan Jackson offers a special performance of “Alleluia,” and Lennon & Maisy Stella share “A Life That’s Good.”

    May 18 – Features Chris Carmack’s “Pieces of You.” Sam Palladio shares his personal hit “Wake Me up in Nashville” and joins K.S. Rhoads for “Battles.” Levi Hummon caps the performances with “Life’s For Living.”

    May 18 – Full performance scene from that night’s episode of “Nashville,” featuring Layla (Aubrey Peoples), Avery (Jonathan Jackson), Bucky (David Alford) and Glenn (Ed Amatrudo).

    May 25 – Features Clare Bowen and Brandon Robert Young singing “It’s Not Yours To Throw Away.” Sarah Siskind sings “Keep Me Alive” before joining Aubrey Peeples on “Too Far From You,” and Erin McCarley and K.S. Rhoads perform their heartbreaking song, “I Will Never Let You Know.”

    “Nashville” airs WEDNESDAYS (10:00-11:00 p.m. EDT) on the ABC Television Network. Full episodes are available the day after they air on and the WATCH ABC app.

    ABC Digital Media Studio’s “On the Record” is a documentary web series that follows the life of original songs performed on “Nashville” written by singer/songwriters in the music scene, from the songs’ inception to on-air premiere. The series offers an intimate look into the songwriting process, from guitar demo to music video and all the steps in between.

    All original music is released by ABC Studios, Lionsgate and ABC Music Lounge in association with Big Machine Records.

    “Nashville” stars Connie Britton as Rayna Jaymes, Hayden Panettiere as Juliette Barnes, Clare Bowen as Scarlett O’Connor, Chris Carmack as Will Lexington, Will Chase as Luke Wheeler, Charles Esten as Deacon Claybourne, Jonathan Jackson as Avery Barkley, Sam Palladio as Gunnar Scott, Maisy Stella as Daphne Conrad, Lennon Stella as Maddie Conrad and Aubrey Peeples as Layla Grant.

    “Nashville” is executive produced by Dee Johnson, Callie Khouri and Steve Buchanan. Buddy Miller is executive music producer and Frankie Pine is music supervisor. The series is produced by Lionsgate, ABC Studios, and Opry Entertainment, and is broadcast in 720 Progressive (720P), ABC’s selected HDTV format with 5.1 channel surround sound.

    Big Machine Records is the leading independent Nashville-based record label home to superstars such as Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw and Rascal Flatts. The imprint is under the Big Machine Label Group umbrella, which also includes The Valory Music Co., Republic Nashville, Dot Records and Nash Icon Records, a joint venture with Cumulus.

    ‘Birth Of The Pill’ Event Series With Denise DiNovi & R.J.Cutler In Works At Sonar

    (5/5/16) Sonar Entertainment has optioned the rights to Jonathan Eig’s nonfiction book The Birth Of The Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution for development as an event series for television, with Denise DiNovi and R.J. Cutler executive producing and Cutler set to to direct.

    The Birth Of the Pill revolves around four flawed, rebellious, larger than life characters racing against time, politics and ethics. They include feminist and social reformer Margaret Sanger, who opened the first birth control clinic in the United States; philanthropist and suffragist Katharine McCormick, who used her family fortune to fund the research that led to the development of the pill; visionary biologist and researcher Gregory Goodwin Pincus, co-inventor of the first oral contraceptive; and John Rock, the Catholic obstetrician and gynecologist who fought to win public approval for the new drug.

    “The incredibly complex real life characters who, from vastly different directions, worked together to change the course of sexual, cultural and political history will be shocking and surprising,” said DiNovi. “The world would not have been the same without The Pill.”

    Audrey Wells (Guinevere, Under the Tuscan Sun) is writing the first episode of the event series, which she executive produces with DiNovi Productions’ Denise DiNovi (Crazy, Stupid Love), her producing partner Alison Greenspan (If I Stay), and R.J. Cutler .

    “This vivid history of the little pill that changed the world is as engaging and gripping as the most suspenseful and dramatic work of fiction,” said Tom Patricia, EVP, Event Series, Sonar Entertainment. “An epic story of sexual politics, rebellion and scientific discovery, it is as relevant and timely today as it was when the actual events were unfolding..”

    The Birth of the Pill was named a Chicago Tribune ‘Best Books of 2014', a Washington Post ’50 Notable Works of Nonfiction & Best Science Books 2014’, a Chicago Tribune ‘Nonfiction Books to Gift 2014’, a Slate ‘Best Books 2014: Staff Picks’, and a Booklist ‘2014 Editor’s Choice’ & ‘Top 10 Science and Health Books of 2014.’

    Eig, a former senior special reporter at the Wall Street Journal, authored Casey Award-winning Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig (Simon & Schuster, 2005), Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Season (Simon & Schuster, 2007), and Get Capone (Simon & Schuster, 2010). Eig is repped by APA on behalf of David Black and the David Black Agency.

    Sonar’s current series includes The Shannara Chronicles for MTV, Taboo for FX and BBC One, and The Son for AMC.

    Ratings: SVU, Chicago P.D. Return From 5-Week Break to Series Lows

    (5/5/16) Absence makes the heart grow… what?

    NBC’s 17-year-old Law & Order: SVU this Wednesday returned from a five-week break to 5.2 million total viewers and a 1.1 demo rating, down 15 and 21 percent from its last fresh outing to tie and hit series lows. Similarly, Chicago P.D. (6.2 mil/1.2) slipped 8 and 20 percent vs. March 30, hitting a series low in the demo.

    Opening the Peacock’s night, Heartbeat (4.1 mil/0.7) was steady.

    Elsewhere in the ratings….

    THE CW | Arrow (2.08 mil/0.7) slipped to series lows, while Supernatural (1.5 mil/0.6) dipped to at least a season low in the demo.

    FOX | Rosewood (4.3 mil/1.6) was down 12 percent and a tenth. Empire (9.3 mil/3.6) dipped 7 percent and two tenths to its lowest digits since Thanksgiving Eve.

    CBS | Survivor (9.4 mil/2.1) and Beyond Borders (6.8 mil/1.2) were steady, while bubble drama Criminal Minds‘ finale (8.8 mil/1.8, average reader grade “B+”) ticked up a tenth, matching its previous season ender.

    ABC | The Middle (6.9 mil/1.7), The Goldbergs (6.6 mil/1.9) and Modern Family (7.4 mil/2.2) were steady, while black-ish (5.6 mil/1.6) and bubble drama Nashville (3.9 mil/0.9) each ticked up.

    Nashville Recap: Oscar? You Barely Know Her! Plus — Maddie's Verdict

    (5/5/16) It’s hard to say which development requires a greater suspension of disbelief in this week’s Nashville: Juliette’s nomination for a Best Actress Academy Award (?!) or her snap realization that not only is Layla sleeping with Avery, Ms. Grant is on a vengeful tear to destroy everything the Shenandoah girl holds dear.

    Hey, it’s not like there’s no precedent for a singer-turned-actress to nab a major award early in her acting career. But for every JHud-in-Dreamgirls and Cher-in-Moonstruck, there’s a Mariah-Carey-in-Sparkle and a Madonna-in-Shanghai Surprise. And while I love Juliette for her fire, her voice and her impressive collection of cashmere loungewear, I just don’t see her as Oscar material.

    But I do see her getting chummier with Luke Wheeler in this week’s installment, and after some consideration, I might be ok with that? Am I losing my mind, fellow Nashvillians? (Not to be confused with Nashvillains.) Or am I just so happy to be watching any scene that isn’t Will sitting at home, fretting about being gay, that I’m primed to accept what seems on paper like a really bad idea?

    Your guess is as good as mine. We’ll ponder it as we review the highlights of “The Trouble With the Truth.”

    IT’S AN HONOR JUST TO BE… | Juliette must think she has at least some shot at an Oscar nomination, because she’s up early, watching the announcements with Emily and Glenn. When her name is mentioned, they all celebrate, and she scurries to the phone to share the good news with Avery.

    But her joy takes a nose dive into the Dumpster when she realizes her ex isn’t alone… even though he’s just woken up. As he whisper-shouts into the phone that who he’s bedding is no longer any of her business, Ju’s face shows that she’s arrived at the answer faster than a Kenyan with the marathon finish line in his sight: “Avery’s with Layla!” she angrily trumpets, immediately turning her ire on Emily. (Some things never change, eh?) Ju sets yet another land-speed record when she realizes a moment later that Avery’s hook-up is “trying to steal my life!”

    WHEELS UP, JU? | Because Emily is a good (and really, the only) friend to Juliette, she confronts Avery and warns him that “I just hope you didn’t sleep with Layla to keep yourself from being with Juliette.” As it turns out, he didn’t. Well, kinda. When he goes to Layla’s dressing room before that night’s show, she gives him an out — but he doesn’t want it.

    “You’re not complicated, and that’s a beautiful thing,” he says. Wow, it takes some talent to knock your ex and imply that your current squeeze is about as deep as a potato chip, Avery. Well done. Even worse, Juliette overhears it all and actually sees the pair kissing. A confab with Luke helps Ms. Barnes figure out that most of her anger toward Layla is really guilt about inadvertently killing Jeff (#harshyettrue), so she sits down with The Banged One and confesses her role in Fordham’s death. Both women cry, but while Juliette is clearly very pained by the whole thing, Layla cooly informs her that really, nothing between them has changed.

    What’s that, Ju? You say you want another kick in the gut? How about when Avery tells you he’s really happy, right before you go on stage, and you do the adult thing and say “Good!” while smiling to cover the fact that you’re a millisecond from crying all of your shimmering stage makeup away in a glittery river of tears.

    Luke picks up on his tour partner’s sadness and asks her if there’s anything he can do to help. So Juliette brings him out to duet with her on “Boomtown.” It does the trick; she perks right up, and they end up dancing in a rather cozy fashion, with his arm flung around her middle. Half of me would rather not see Lukliette become a thing — You down with Ja-ver-y? Yeah, O-T-P! — but the other half of me would like to see Will Chase have a chance to play a romantic storyline, and the pair definitely has chemistry. Therefore, I will reserve judgment.

    WHO HIRED A PEANUTS ACTOR TO DO VOICEOVER WORK? | Maddie’s emancipation hearing date arrives, and when it’s not clear how the judge will rule, the teen’s terrible lawyer suggests they employ the “alternate strategy,” aka “destroy Deacon using his drunkenly violent history as evidence he’s a threat to Mads’ safety.”

    The lawyer calls Deke to the stand and begins a litany of his poor decisions, which include decking Teddy in front of City Hall, punching the Revel Kings bandmate who got all predator-y with Scarlett, jumping Luke in his front yard, etc. “You don’t understand!” I want Deke to say. “I’m a character on a primetime soap!”

    But when the lawyer starts bringing up the terrible things that happened when Deacon was drinking (Rayna’s black eye long ago, Rayna’s car accident more recently), Claybourne is crestfallen as he realizes that Frankie has supplied Maddie’s legal counsel with plenty of information he gleaned as Deacon’s Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor. That night at The Beverly, while Kelsea Ballerini plays for the customers, Deke confronts Frankie behind the bar. He asks why the older man is so mad, and Frankie replies, “Maybe because your wife curr de hurr de hurr hurr!” (I swear to you, I replayed that line three times and it just got more unintelligible with each listen.)

    When Frankie decks Deacon, they get into a scuffle that leaves Frankie pretty bloody. At one point, he yells, “You stole this bar like you stole your damn dead sister’s liver!” — and I, as my colleague Michael Slezak would say, hoot and holler at the sheer absurdity. Long story short, Deacon ends up in jail with a restraining order against him, and Rayna rightly blames him for making their bad situation 300 times worse. He apologizes from behind the Plexiglass partition, but Rayna just hangs up the phone and leaves him there to think about what he’s done.

    The next day, the judge grants Maddie emancipated minor status. Rayna weeps.

    ROLLING STONE‘D LOVE | Scarlett and Gunnar oversleep their appointment with the Rolling Stone reporter, so much sex and whiskey did they have the night before. Scar frantically jumps in the shower and yells at Gunnar to do the same. Guys, this is not a shower situation! This is a swipe-a-wet-facecloth-through-the-danger-zones-and-hope-for-the-best situation!

    During the interview, Gunnar can’t stop himself from gazing dopily at his new-old love. But as they discuss their romantic history with the reporter, Gunnar gets increasingly pissy. He misinterprets Scarlett’s discussion of his rejected proposal and their first hook-up, finally telling her that she has a negative take on everything he does. Oy, guys, where is this drama coming from?

    RAGE, RINSE, REPEAT | Luke’s attempt to defend Will from a conservative cable-news host’s homophobic comments goes awry when his satellite feed drops out at an inopportune moment. Aw, sorry, Luke. A for effort. Meanwhile, Will showers, fumes and yells at his TV. I wish I were oversimplifying, but that’s pretty much all Chris Carmack has to do in this episode.

    Tony Award nominations

    (5/4/16) Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
    Laura Benanti, She Loves Me
    Carmen Cusack, Bright Star
    Cynthia Erivo, The Color Purple
    Jessie Mueller, Waitress
    Phillipa Soo, Hamilton

    Nashville's Maddie Promises Her Frustrating Storyline Is Going to Get Better

    (5/2/16) Nashville is as juicy as ever in its fourth season, but there's one storyline that doesn't seem to be going over very well, at least as far as Twitter is concerned: Maddie Conrad (Lennon Stella) and her quest for music stardom.

    This quest has now led the eldest daughter of country superstar Rayna James (Connie Britton) to petition the courts for emancipation from her parents, all so she can sign a record deal with a label that wants to make her a solo superstar. As you'll recall, earlier this season Rayna signed her daughter to the label she runs, Highway 65—but as a duo with little sis Daphne (Lennon's IRL sister and singing partner, Maisy Stella).

    Enter Cash (Jessy Schram), the grown woman inexplicably invested in indulging Maddie's teenage fantasies (and mood swings) who has encouraged her to legally separate from her family. Legal emancipation is seriously NBD, it could just potentially lead to a permanent rift in the Conrad family—but Maddie gets to be a professional singer like a year or two earlier than her mom would've allowed, so apparently it's all worth it!

    Well, frustrated viewers, the actress herself (who is a lovely, talented artist and definitely not the problem with Maddie's silly storyline) has a few words that may encourage you.

    "Maddie, she's been testing her limits and boundaries. So I think she's going to keep doing that for a little bit," she told E! News' Erin Lim on the red carpet at the Radio Disney Music Awards. Sigh. Okay.

    "But then she gets better," added the actress.

    Hear that? There's an end in sight, people. There is a light at the end of the tunnel!

    Nashville airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on ABC.

    Ratings: Nashville Ticks Up, Arrow Rises and Empire Ends 3-Week Slide

    (4/28/16) ABC bubble drama Nashville this Wednesday drew 3.84 million total viewers and a 0.9 demo rating, ticking up 3 percent and a tenth from last week’s series lows.

    Opening the network’s night, The Middle (6.7 mil/1.6) slipped to season lows, while black-ish (5 mil/1.5) held steady out of a(nother) Modern Family rerun.

    Elsewhere in the ratings….

    CBS | Survivor (9.3 mil/2.1) ticked up to 5-week highs, drawing its second-largest audience of the season. Leading out of a Criminal Minds repeat, Beyond Borders (6.5 mil/2.1) dipped to hit and tie series lows.

    FOX | Rosewood (4.8 mil/1.3) inched up, while Empire (9.9 mil/3.7) ended a 3-week slide by holding steady.

    NBC | Heartbeat (4.7 mil/0.8) rose 18 percent and a tenth.

    THE CW | Arrow (2.28 mil/0.9) returned up a tenth, while Supernatural (1.67 mil/0.7) was steady.

    Nashville Recap: Kiss and Hell

    (4/28/16) Two couples got their swerve on in this week’s Nashville. One was a foregone conclusion. The other was an abomination.

    Yeah, you heard me, Layla. Abomination! I could maybe get behind your plan to seduce Juliette’s ex-husband if you… had an actual plan to seduce Juliette’s husband. But your to-do list seems like an endless loop of mope, sulk, stalk off and then glom onto Avery’s lips whenever they’re within smooching distance. Even worse: This trajectory seems to be working for you.

    If you’re going to be the show’s new bitch, I’m gonna need you to be the show’s new bitch. Go ahead, I know you can do it! Snark at underlings! Plot Juliette’s personal and professional downfall! You spent enough time with Jeff Fordham to know how fan-hated characters go about life — and if you need a refresher course, just take a look at Cash.

    That second couple I mentioned? Scarlett and Gunnar. But was anyone seriously worried that wasn’t going to happen? At least we got a new performance of an old favorite out of them before they started pawing each other like counselors in the art shack on a hot night at sleep-away camp.

    In other news: Will’s still gay! But (said like the dad in Heathers) Luke loves his proud gay artist! Read on for the highlights of “Baby Come Home.”

    NASHVILLE - "Baby Come Home" - Rayna and Deacon try everything they can think of to reunite with Maddie and avoid court, even involving Teddy (Eric Close) from jail. Juliette tries to rekindle her relationship with Avery, and her success on tour stokes Layla's jealousy, personally and professionally. Luke Wheeler leverages his own appearance on "Good Morning America" with Robin Roberts to try to jump start Will Lexington's career, on "Nashville," WEDNESDAY, APRIL 27 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EDT), on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Mark Levine) CHARLES ESTEN, CONNIE BRITTON

    OUR NATIONAL NIGHTMARE CONTINUES | Raise your hand if you thought the weeks following Rayna and Deacon’s extremely long-awaited Nashville wedding would be full of cuddlin’ and kissin’, not affadavits and jail visits. But the Maddie emancipation drama continues, with the teen serving her legal parents — aka Rayna and Teddy, who’s still incarcerated — with papers requiring them to be in court in 48 hours. Ray thinks if she can just get a moment alone with her kid, things will be better. So she sets up a fake meeting with Cash (which yields nothing) and then waits outside Cash’s home until she can physically stop Maddie for a quick, tearful conversation (which yields even less).

    After Teddy confesses to his daughter that her Edgehill “deal” was really just a blackmail move by Jeff Fordham, he then has to explain why: AKA his tryst with the pay-for-play escort known as Ol’ Leopard Panties. So now Mads has even more in her Teen Girl arsenal, and she levels it at her mom as she demands to know why the truth was kept from her. Rayna’s explanation — that she was just protecting her from heartache — doesn’t fly… though things seem to be looking up when Maddie arrives at the Ryman just in time to sing with Daphne at a charity show.

    “I’m so glad you’re home,” Rayna gushes. “I’m not,” Maddie grits, thinking no doubt of Cash’s undoubtedly embellished recount of the fake meeting earlier that day. So with a sobbing Daphne clinging to Deacon, and Rayna barely holding it together onstage, Maddie stomps out with Cash in tow. See you in court, kid!

    VERY BAD THINGS | Juliette takes the stage for the first time since joining Luke’s tour, and she is effervescent up there in her beaded deep-V gown. She works the stage. She nails the performance of “One Place Too Long.” And as everyone grooves backstage, Layla fumes. When Layla returns to her tour bus, Avery’s there, working on a song. As they listen to it on a shared set of headphones, their faces are thisclose… and that’s when Layla goes in for a kiss. Avery kisses her back. Then Cadence wakes up, crying, because THIS IS A TRAVESTY. He uses that as an out and hustles the baby back to the hotel.

    The next morning, Avery is all, “It’s not you, it’s me,” which Layla doesn’t want to hear. And when Juliette is frustrated that her ex doesn’t want to join her on stage for a song, she takes Glenn’s advice and just tells Avery the truth: She wants them to try being a couple again, because she’s better now. Avery’s not having it. “What you do to me is what you did, and you’re gonna do it again!” he cries, but Ju stays the course, telling him to take his time and find her when he makes his decision.

    But when Avery makes a decision, it’s a really bad one that doesn’t involve Cadence’s mama at all: He knocks on Layla’s door and kisses her, all in this time. In my notes, I write, “Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.”

    THE NO-LONGER-EXES? | Scarlett passive-aggressives Gunnar until they get stuck in an elevator during a blackout. Rather than unravel all the knitwear Scar is wearing, fashion a rope and rappel to safety, they talk until she admits that she’s mad he slept with Autumn. He sets her straight, they share a bottle of old Scotch and then perform “If I Didn’t Know Better.” Major props to Sam Palladio for that slick, well-executed, almost-but-not-quite-a-go-in-for-the-kiss guitar reach.

    When they finally part ways at Scarlett’s room, it takes her one nanosecond of heavy breathing before she’s in his arms and he’s pulling at her clothes. I’ve never booked passage on this ‘ship, but even I have to admit: This scene is hot.

    PLAY THE GAY! | When Will’s radio showcase is poorly attended, Luke uses an appearance on Good Morning America to promote his new artist and to shame radio programmers who won’t play a gay singer’s tunes. Ken, Luke’s manager, thinks the whole thing is a bad idea. (Side note: Did anyone else suspect that maybe Ken, who gives off an anti-LGBT vibe, had sabotaged the showcase in the first place?)

    Could ‘Nashville’ fall victim to anti-LGBT laws?

    (4/28/16) ABC’s “Nashville,” once very much considered “must-watch TV,” has lost some its southern charm since it first premiered in 2012. While the series struggles to get its southern swag back in order to seal a renewal order from the network, the current political state of Nashville, Tn., may be a major factor in whether or not fans will see a Season 5 of the country drama.

    Connie Britton, who stars as singer Rayna James on the series, spoke out about the state’s pending anti-LGBT laws to The Hollywood Reporter, saying “In general, the language in that bill is some of the most discriminatory that we’ve seen, certainly in my lifetime, and to take on that kind of stigma in our state as a legislator, that would not be a very great way to represent the people.”

    But the actress, who relocated to the capital of country music to film the series, is holding out hope. “Nashville is strong enough and progressive enough that it could support a change in that point of view” against equality for the gay, lesbian, transgender, and bi-sexual community.

    Currently Tennessee governor Bill Hallam is reviewing House Bill 1840 in which therapists and counselors can deny treatment to certain patients if they feel the patient’s issues go against their personally held beliefs. Also up for debate is House Bill 2414, the bill which has caused both Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam to cancel their tour stops in North Carolina after it was passed, a legislation that would ban transgenders from using school bathrooms.

    “I shoot a TV show in Tennessee, and honestly, if they proceed with this, I’m not necessarily going to feel comfortable working there,” says Britton. “That is a tricky situation because of course we employ a lot of people in the state, and you certainly don’t want to have to interrupt that, but at the same time, this is the only way that we can have our voices be heard.”

    If a show which the state’s Economic and Community Development’s director Randy Boyd describes as “great advertising” and spends around $20 million a year employing locals with jobs were to threaten to pull the plug on a potential fifth season, could that sway the state against passing the bills?

    “Nashville” star Chris Carmack, who plays gay singer Will Lexington on the series, says the real people of Nashville have only embraced his character since coming out. Passing anti-LGBT laws would be both “devastating” and “incredibly harmful,” he says, as “the state is basically setting an example for people that it’s ok to discriminate.”

    Carmack thinks aloud, “‘Do we want to live in a place like this?’ I know right now everyone is calling on big corporations to step in and voice their opinions, because money matters in something like a political forum, but I guarantee you that there are many more individuals like myself and my fiancee who are potential long-term transplants from all over, who are saying, ‘Is this a place I would want to call home? A place that would write this sort of thing into legislation?”

    Nashville's Jonathan Jackson on Avery Reuniting With Juliette (He 'Deeply Loves Her'), Finding 'Solace' in Layla

    (4/26/16) To paraphrase the lyrics of a Juliette Barnes tune, trouble is — for Nashville‘s Avery Barkley — an ex-wife for whom he still yearns and a scheming singer with too much time and him in her head.

    And unfortunately for the band leader/new father, this Wednesday’s episode (ABC, 10/9c) finds him flanked by the two women as Luke’s tour gets underway.

    In the hour, Juliette’s success on stage boosts her confidence and prods her to try to re-start her relationship with Cadence’s dad. But Jackson says a fix to the former couple’s problems isn’t as easy as saying “I’m sorry” and hugging it out.

    “He’s trying to protect himself and have boundaries, but also not be a jerk,” the actor tells TVLine. “It’s not always an easy balance when he’s been hurt.”

    Read on for Jackson’s thoughts on the chances of an Avery/Juliette reunion, the “solace” his character finds in Layla and the training that helps him churn up believable tears at a moment’s notice.

    TVLINE | Since Juliette has been back from rehab, it feels like Avery repeatedly gravitates toward his ex, then stops himself. Is that the trajectory for the rest of the season for them? Is there the possibility of a reunion?

    Well, I’m sure [the show’s producers] wouldn’t want me to speak on the rest of the season, but that’s certainly the current dynamic with them. I don’t think he’s ever loved anyone as much as he loved her, so even though they’re not together at the moment, Avery deeply loves her. It’s just one of those things that no matter what happens, when they’re in the room together, they both feel that connection and it’s a really painful thing, but there are a lot of deep trust issues there. So he’s trying to get his life back together and move on, and yet he’s still constantly feeling that tension and that pull towards her.

    TVLINE | There have been so many episodes this season where Avery is a raw bundle of emotion; our readers like to point out that you had all that on-screen crying practice as General Hospital‘s Lucky. Is it easy for you to access that?

    Oh, it’s incredible training. I was 11 years old when I started, and I was very blessed to work with Anthony Geary and Genie Francis, because they’re incredible artists. They really laid the foundation for me with all that stuff, which I still carry with me. Plus, you’re doing so many episodes in a year on a soap opera that you really do just get to experiment with a lot of different things in terms of acting preparation and approach. Some things you find work really well and others don’t. And it only airs once, so it’s not a good feeling if it didn’t go well. It’s amazing training, but [acting is] always a challenge no matter what you’ve experienced. It’s always a new situation… There’s always a sense of walking a tightrope, and I don’t ever really take it for granted, so I always try to put my heart and soul into it.

    TVLINE | Let’s talk about Layla: How serious of a threat is she to Juliette, and by extension, Avery? Will we see her have any success in her plans?

    [Laughs] You know I can’t answer those questions!

    TVLINE | You can tell me whether or not she has any wins along the way.

    It’s hard for me to know that exactly. She’s definitely been a complicated character, because she does have those nefarious motives here and there. At the same time, there’s been a lot that they’ve done to humanize her and show a sincere person who is suffering a lot with her broken marriage and then the death of Jeff Fordham and everything.

    Right now, Avery and her are just connecting. They’re finding some kind of solace in friendship with both, in essence, losing the person that they love either through divorce or death. That’s where she’s coming from. There are some vengeful motives in her, but I think there’s also something genuine that that she is appreciating who Avery is. Having those complexities is always fun to play around with as actors.

    A Dance to Remember! Nashville's Lennon Stella Goes to Prom with the Son of Her TV Dad Charles Esten

    (4/24/16) (Pic) When prom season rolls around, it sure helps when your dad plays the TV father of a gorgeous up-and-coming county singer.

    Chase Puskar, the 17-year-old son of Nashville star Charles Esten, was no doubt the envy of his senior class when he showed up to prom Saturday with actress Lennon Stella.

    Stella, who plays the head-strong daughter of Deacon (Esten) and Rayna (Connie Britton) on the ABC drama, sported rouge lips and a stunning red dress to accompany Puskar to the Brentwood High School dance in Nashville. She's a homeschooled junior who once attended Brentwood, where Puskar goes to now.

    She posted several pictures on Instagram, including one involving the requisite pinning-of-the-boutonniere and some from prom, which was themed "Rhythm of the Night." Sadly, Esten didn’t perform (he's on tour!).

    On Nashville, Stella's alter-ego Maddie has been giving Deacon a lot of trouble these days – she wants to emancipate! Off-screen, she's the perfect, stress-free prom date for Esten's son. But there's no romance blooming here – she and Puskar and just buds!

    ‘Nashville’: New Showrunners Set Up Writers Room For Season 5

    (4/21/16) While ABC is yet to decide Nashville‘s future beyond the current fourth season, work has started on the potential Season 5. Newly appointed showrunners, Thirtysomething creators Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz, are assembling a small writers room to work on stories for next season. I hear the move by producing studios Lionsgate TV and ABC Studios is designed to both help the duo — who are new to the country music drama — hone a strong pitch for Season 5 and get a head start should Nashville get a renewal. While on the bubble, Nashville had been looking good for a fifth season, which could be a shorter, final installment. The writers room launch represents another hopeful sign just as the series somewhat alarmingly ticked down to Live+same day series lows among adults 18-49 (0.8 rating, tied with winter finale) and total viewers (3.7 million) last night.

    Herskovitz and Zwick, who are under a deal at Lionsgate TV, are taking the helm of the soapy series from current showrunner Dee Johnson, who had been with the show since the first season, working alongside creator Callie Khouri. Nashville has been an important series for Lionsgate TV, the sole broadcast show for the cable and streaming-centric indie studio. The renewal of the modestly rated drama had gone down to the wire the last couple of seasons, mostly coming down to ABC and Lionsgate haggling over the big price tag of the show starring Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere.

    Creatively, Nashville faced a major challenge this season as it had to accommodate the extensive medical leave of one of its stars, Panettiere. Ratings-wise, its very low Live+same day performance has been somewhat offset by solid DVR gains, and the music and touring business it has spawned, becoming a franchise for the network and producing studios.

    Humans Season 2: Carrie-Anne Moss and Sam Palladio Joining Cast

    (4/21/16) A pair of familiar looking Humans are boarding the sci-fi drama’s Season 2 cast.

    Jessica Jones‘ Carrie-Anne Moss and Nashville‘s Sam Palladio have joined the acclaimed AMC series in series-regular roles, TVLine has learned exclusively.

    Moss will play Dr. Athena Morrow, a pre-eminent Artificial Intelligence expert who is driven by her own motives to create a new kind of machine consciousness. Palladio, meanwhile, portrays Ed, a struggling café owner trying to breathe life into his family business.

    Production on Humans‘ 8-episode second season is currently underway and will continue through summer, and is not expected to interfere with Moss and Palladio’s respective first-position jobs on Jessica Jones and Nashville (both of which are currently on hiatus).

    Prison Break‘s Marshall Allman is also set to appear in Season 2 as Milo Khoury, a young Silicon Valley billionaire, founder and CEO of a leading technology company.

    Here’s the official Season 2 logline:

    The second season picks up several months after the events of season one, with Niska still at large and in possession of the consciousness code. Her synth family, Mia, Leo and Max, unaware of her location, are each trying to find their place in the world while Joe and Laura attempt to mend their marriage. As unconfirmed reports of synths behaving inexplicably surface, the ripple effects of one simple yet seismic decision sees the past return dramatically and surprisingly to the door of the Hawkins house. Joe, Laura and the entire family are faced with a difficult choice that will put the family under an intense spotlight. As an emerging form of intelligent life – the synths – and an established one – humanity – fight for their places in the world, a thrilling multi-stranded narrative evolves which continues to ask: who has the right to determine what it means to be alive?

    Humans is slated to return in 2017.

    Ratings: Survivor Hits 3-Week High

    (4/21/16) CBS’ Survivor this Wednesday drew 9.2 million total viewers and a 2.0 demo rating, up 10 percent and a tenth to hit four- and three-week highs.

    Leading out of that, Criminal Minds (9 mil/1.7) was steady, while Beyond Borders (7.5 mil/1.3) slipped two tenths.

    Elsewhere in the ratings….

    ABC | Leading out of a rerun-palooza, bubble drama Nashville (3.7 mil/0.8) ticked down to hit and tie series lows.

    NBC | Heartbeat (4 mil/0.8) inched up.

    FOX | Rosewood (4.6 mil/1.2) was steady, while Empire (9.4 mil/3.6) dipped 7 percent and two tenths to its lowest numbers since Thanksgiving Eve.

    Nashville Recap: Emancipated Whiner

    (4/21/16) Nashville, when I said I wanted Maddie out of sight and more Rayna/Deacon scenes, this isn’t exactly what I meant.

    Because Maddie’s decision to run away from home in Wednesday’s episode not only puts the hour’s focus on the truculent teen, it gives us plenty of Jaymes/Claybourne family turmoil that yes, gives us Rayna and Deacon in the same space, but also leaves the newlyweds snapping at each other in their worry over their missing daughter.

    (Does anyone have Colt’s grandpa’s phone number? He’s got a track record of helping overindulged kids mature into young adults, and something makes me think a summer of mucking stalls, driving tractors and filling feed bins would do Maddie’s bratty soul a world of good.)

    Elsewhere in the episode, the bane of Juliette’s existence turns into a great opportunity, Riff pulls a Lamar Odom and Will’s gaydar is seriously askew. Read on for the highlights of “Didn’t Expect It to Go Down This Way.”

    CASH BLOCKED | Rayna returns from Dallas, has a debrief about Deacon’s night hauling their daughter out of the bar, then goes to Maddie’s room… to find her gone. Yep, Mads is AWOL, leaving Daphne feeling guilty about ratting her sister out and Deacon regretting the blind fury he injected into the whole affair. Young Miss Claybourne is hanging out at Cash’s house, but when Rayna storms in and scours the place for her kid, Cash snottily denies having seen her.

    Back at home, the Maddie -apologizing this show is so good at continues when Rayna suggests that the teen is staying away because “We know Maddie’s got issues with your anger, and maybe she got freaked out.” Oh for the love of Conway Twitty, Ray, get a grip! Your kid is a spoiled brat, and that’s on you, too. Mr. and Mrs. Claybourne are very short with each other, but they manage to get their argument under control before saying something they’ll regret. (I’m going to ignore Rayna’s “Good Lord, Deacon, why’d you have to blow up on her like that last night?!” moment from later in the episode, because girlfriend is stressed.)

    LET HER GO! | At Cash’s, Maddie laments that Rayna nixed her Sony record deal a while back. But Cash has contacts at the label; with a few calls, the offer is back on the table. She also informs Maddie that Edgehill wanted her as artist, too, which is news to the kid. And after Rayna swings by Juliette’s on the off chance her daughter is holed up with her idol — and has a very touching mama heart-to-heart with Ju (more Connie Britton/Hayden Panettiere scenes, please and thank you) — Deacon calls to say that Maddie is definitely at Cash’s.

    Rayna hustles over there, only to have her older daughter defiantly announce that she’s not coming home, and she’s talked to a lawyer. “I’m emancipating from you,” she says, closing the door in her parents’ faces. As Rayna sobs on the front steps for the second time in the episode, Deacon can’t do anything except wrap his arms around her.

    WHEELS (ALMOST) UP! | A close moment with Juliette during the Cadence hand-off freaks Avery out, so he makes the quick decision to join Layla on Luke’s tour as her band leader, and to take the baby with him. (Side note: Any of you music-industry types out there, please fill me in as to whether it is or isn’t weird to have a band leader sign on the day the tour begins?)

    Juliette is irked by many things. 1) Her career needs a boost in the form of a new album, and Avery’s absence means he probably won’t produce a few tracks like she wants. 2) Avery’s closeness with Layla during a rehearsal for the tour’s opening night makes them seem quite cozy — cozier than they really are, but Ju doesn’t know that. And 3) Luke seems to be blowing her off (though he’s really not, but we’ll get to that in a wheelin’ dealin’ minute).

    EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN | Riff turns up in a New Orleans hospital, having suffered a stroke after consuming large amounts of booze, drugs and penis pills. Oh, and he was with a prostitute when it happened. The fame lifestyle is like a drug, his wife explains to Luke in the hospital waiting room, and he hadn’t been home since his performance at The Beverly a week before.

    Thomas Rhett fills in for Riff on opening night; we see him perform “Die a Happy Man” for the crowd, who loves him. But he’s a temporary patch on the tour’s gaping wound… until Juliette waltzes into Luke’s dressing room right before he goes onstage.

    Can we talk for a minute about Luke’s dressing room décor? Judging by the lifesize deer statues and those lamps on the bar, I’m inclined to think that Wheeler’s tour rider reads like the lyrics of Beauty and the Beast: “Venue agrees to provide one (1) case of bottled water, no fewer than four (4) bottles of top-shelf liquor, at least three (3) unopened bags of ice; Venue also agrees to use antlers in all of its decorrrrrrrrrating!” Anyway, Juliette wants to join the tour to fill the spot Riff vacated (which she vacated first), and Luke is on board. He announces the news during his set that night. “Now I get to spend plenty of time with Cadence!” Juliette chirps to Avery and Layla as she takes the stage; their stunned faces say everything.

    MISTAKEN SEXUAL IDENTITY | Will hems and haws all episode about whether or not to ask one of his backup singers, a bespectacled possibly gay guy named Brian, out for a beer. Then he does. And Brian says yes. But Brian turns out not to be gay. Metrosexuals, man.

    WHAT IS AUTUMN’S ENDGAME? | Autumn has clearly chosen the divide-and-conquer route when it comes to The Exes. The day their single, “The Rubble,” drops — and does really well — she pretends to be all girlfriendly to Scarlett, but warns Gunnar that in duos, “One always outshines the other.” And Scar gets the really wrong idea when she happens to witness Gunnar leaving the star’s hotel room and wiping her lipstick off his face.

    Ratings: Nashville Ticks Up to Best Demo Number Since November

    (4/14/16) ABC bubble drama Nashville this Wednesday drew 4.2 million total viewers and a 1.0 rating, ticking up to a 4-week audience high and its best demo number since Nov. 18.

    Opening ABC’s night, The Middle (6.8 mil/1.7), The Goldbergs (6.2 mil/1.8) and black-ish (5.7 mil/1.6) were all steady, while Modern Family (7.4 mil/2.2) ticked down to series lows.

    Elsewhere in the ratings….

    FOX | Recently renewed Rosewood (4.4 mil/1.2) was down 15 and 14 percent. Empire (10.1 mil/3.8) slipped 11 and 12 percent to its second-lowest numbers of the season (trailing only its Thanksgiving Eve outing), yet easily dominated the night.

    CBS | Survivor (8.5 mil/1.9) was steady, Criminal Minds (8.9 mil/1.7) dipped a tenth and Beyond Borders (8 mil/1.5) grew 14 and 25 percent to best-since-premiere numbers.

    NBC | A special Voice outing did 8.8 mil and a 1.7, more than doubling Heartbeat‘s most recent performance. Leading out of that, Strong debuted to 3.4 mil/1.0, well below typical SVU/P.D. numbers.

    Nashville Recap: Shady Ladies

    (4/14/16) Anyone else longing for the open, honest, what-you-see-is-what-you-get-ness of one Miss Sadie Stone?

    Though it seems like ages since the singer-songwriter graced our screens, it was barely a season ago she and Rayna were riding around Nashville, belting “Gasoline and Matches” and eluding the paparazzi like Bennifer —Lopez, not Garner — in their prime. Sure, Sadie had a teeny secret (with big, stupid fists) and wound up (accidentally!) killing that secret in a parking garage, but otherwise, she seemed like good people.

    I bring her up in light of this week’s episode, which finds two relatively new Music City females going absolutely Chiquita-bananas loco. Add to that Layla’s prolonged, amorphous and rather wackadoodle revenge plan — best I can tell, her endgame involves mooning over Avery until he succumbs out of sheer boredom — and can you blame me for reminiscing about Sadie’s sweet, simple sanity?

    On the upside, Maddie gets yelled at during the hour, and that’s always a good time. And Kevin’s back! (For a hot minute.) Read on for the highlights of “When There’s Fire.”

    GUNNAR GETS CHASED | Let’s start with The Exes, who arrive in Dallas all psyched about opening for Autumn Chase. That is, Scarlett and Gunnar are jazzed until they witness the country superstar hug them hello in one breath and then publicly shame one of her guitar techs by firing him in the next. Ah, I see: Autumn is terrible-crazy, not fun-crazy. Got it.

    Working off their manager’s advice to just go along with whatever Autumn says, Gunny and Scarlett smile and nod through a dinner where she pries into their past, eventually getting Gunnar to admit that he proposed to Scarlett and she turned him down. It’s awkward, but Little Miss No Filter doesn’t seem to notice or care, and she goes on to spread the story among the crew after the Dallas show.

    Finally, Scarlett’s had enough, and she gently yet firmly asks Autumn to quit it. The older woman flibbertigibbets all over herself apologizing, and then Scarlett starts apologizing in that way that most women (including myself) do which is SO INFURIATING. And even though Autumn acts like everything is totally cool — going as far as thanking Scarlett for speaking her mind — the way she flirts all up on Gunnar later is problematic, methinks.

    FOR BETTER OR WORSE | Juliette is getting sued by the Stephen Spielberg movie that employed her for five minutes, but she doesn’t care, because she’s happy with where things stand with Cadence. However, she does miss performing and recording, but she needs a manager to help restart her get her music career. She gets all dressed up and visits Glenn, but he disregards all of the adult-ing she’s clearly doing — just look at that updo-turtleneck combination! — and kindly informs her that he can’t work for her anymore.

    After lamenting her situation to Avery (who is in NO way talking about his own situation when he says that Glenn “doesn’t hate you, Juliette. I think you hurt him, and he’s protecting himself”), she enlists Mr. Barkley and the Grand Ole Opry in a ruse that involves her performing a song dedicated to Glenn on the Opry stage that evening.

    The tune, “Hole in the World,” is a sad one that at first angers, then moves The Toupeed One to find space in his heart for one more try with his troubled surrogate daughter. “If you can’t be my manager, just please tell me that you’ll be in my life,” she says tearfully. “Maybe I’ll do both,” he replies, just as wetly. No, YOU’RE crying!

    RAY ON THE ROAD | When no touring act will add Layla as an opener, Rayna comes up with what she thinks is a great idea: She’ll do a 10-date tour, which will give the struggling Highway 65 artist a platform from which to promote her first album. And after doing a one-off duet with Autumn at the Dallas show, Rayna is literally ready to rock-n-roll and get back out on stage. She even gets Deacon to agree — rather, she informs him that he’s coming along on tour with her — but it appears that Layla has made other plans. (Don’t worry, Rayna still wants to hit the road.)

    Back in Nashville, Layla combs her bangs and goes to Luke’s office, where she sobs/blackmails him into taking her on as his opening act. But what about Riff? Oh hey, don’t sweat it —he acted erractically, packed a bag and took off, and his panicked wife doesn’t know where he is.

    CASHED OUT | Cash implies that Maddie should sneak out and play a gig to feel less “trapped,” then puts up only the smallest resistance when the teen (understandably) thinks that’s an awesome idea. So Mads lies to Deacon that she’s going to a “coffeehouse,” then puts on a little black dress and takes the stage at a bar Cash sneaks her into. The song she performs makes her sound like a little girl teetering around in her mother’s heels (sample lyrics: “I’m a bad girl, I’m a real bad girl”), and when Daphne narcs, Deacon shows up at the bar like DEKE SMASH!

    Before you can say “grounded for life,” Deacon has his defiant daughter by the arm and is hustling her out to the car. Cash follows and screams at Deacon. “You don’t even know her!” the blonde shrieks, prompting Deke to warn her, “You need to stay the hell away from my daughter, or you will regret it.” The look that then passes over Cash’s face bodes something — I’m not sure what it is, but I’m sure it’s not good.

    THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY | Luke has Will spend a day writing with Kevin. Kevin has a boyfriend. Will is sad about it. They argue a little, then almost cry a little, then admit that they loved each other. Side note: I would’ve watched these two snipe at each other, field calls involving the word “pinot” and write on yellow legal pads for the entire 45 minutes of tonight’s show. THAT IS HOW MUCH I MISS KEVIN WITH WILL.

    Kesha to Guest Star on Nashville: See a First Look

    (4/13/16) (Pic) She just sold her home there in March, but Kesha's heading back to Nashville – the show, that is.

    The singer – who's currently embroiled in a lawsuit with Sony and producer Dr. Luke – will guest star as herself on ABC's hit show, and PEOPLE has an exclusive first look at the star on set.

    In the May 11 episode, Juliette (played by Hayden Panettiere) reunites with her Shenandoah Girl costar Noah West (played by Derek Hough) on the Oscar campaign trail and meets Kesha.

    The singer – who has had small roles recently in Jane the Virgin and Jem and the Holograms – told Entertainment Weekly last year she was having fun exploring "different art mediums."

    "Right now my [music] career is kind of on hold," she said. "I'm finding other ways to express myself and have outlets and connect with my fans."

    Kesha's episode of Nashville airs May 11 at 10 p.m. on ABC.

    Ratings: American Idol's Final Performance Finale Hits 3-Year Highs

    (4/7/16) American Idol’s series finale (Part 1) drew 9.6 million total viewers and a 2.2 demo rating on Wednesday night — up 75 and 70 percent versus last year to deliver its best performance finale since Season 12.

    Empire (11.3 mil/4.2) slipped 10 and 12 percent to its lowest numbers since its Thanksgiving Eve outing.

    Elsewhere in the ratings….

    ABC | With their first originals against Empire Season 2B, Modern Family (7.4 mil/2.2) and black-ish (5.5 mil/1.6) slipped two and three tenths in the demo, respectively, hitting and tying series lows. The Middle (6.9 mil/1.7) was steady, The Goldbergs (6.1 mil/1.8) ticked down to season lows and bubble drama Nashville (4.2 mil/1.0) rose 11 percent and a tenth with a fresh lead-in.

    THE CW | Arrow (2.24 mil/0.8) dipped a tenth, while Supernatural (1.76 mil/0.7) rose a tenth.

    CBS | Survivor (9 mil/1.9) ticked down. Beyond Borders‘ special 9 o’clock airing did 7.3 mil/1.2 (compared to Criminal Minds‘ week-ago 9.2 mil/1.8), while its second episode (6.9 mil/1.2) dipped just a bit from Week 3.

    NBC | Heartbeat (4 mil/0.7) dropped another 15 percent plus two tenths.

    Nashville Recap: Homecoming Mean

    (4/7/16) What’s the opposite of the Welcome Wagon? The Get Out Jalopy? The See Ya Subaru? The Hasta la Vista Haycart? Because that’s what greets Juliette when she (finally!) returns to town in this week’s Nashville. Even worse, a red-eyed, out-of-empathy Avery is behind the wheel.

    The old Juliette might’ve reacted to this rebuff in a number of ways. She could’ve fired him… then fired whatever employee of hers pointed out that Avery wasn’t on her payroll. She could’ve run out and slept with the closest, least appropriate person in the immediate vicinity. (RIP, Jeff Fordham.) She could’ve at least broken a very expensive piece of glassware.

    What’s so disheartening about JuJu’s reaction to her ex-husband/forever soulmate’s feigned ambivalence about their relationship — not to mention his outright disdain for her ability to be a dedicated mom — is that it’s all so quiet and adult and bloodless. Maybe I’m being a pessimist; perhaps the lack of raised voices and verbal kill shots means Cadence’s folks are moving toward a shared understanding. But I’d rather they moved toward a shared bed, which is a veiled way of saying PLEASE GIVE ME JAVERY BACK, Nashville. Amid Layla’s heartbreak and Deacon and Rayna sharing one (!) scene in this episode, I need a win!

    Read on for the highlights of “What I Cannot Change.”

    BABY STEPS | Let’s start with the most important aspect of the entire episode: the cuteness of the babies who play little Cadence. They are so deliciously adorable, they make me and my ovaries want to write checks that my one-bedroom New York apartment can’t cash. But can you blame me? Those little kiddos are acting, people. Just try not to melt when the baby actively hugs Juliette and smiles her goodbyes in that opening scene at the rehab center. Anyway, the doc that annoyed me in the last episode says it’s time for her to head home, and Juliette happily complies.

    But back in Music City, Ms. Barnes returns to an empty house, tons of unopened mail and an offer of a cameo in a Steven Spielberg movie. She’s psyched about the opportunity… until she realizes that shooting it in Europe means she’ll miss out on two weeks of Cadence time. So she rules it out. But when Avery refuses her request for increased time with their daughter, Ju reconsiders and accepts the part.

    And because Avery is so clearly still in love with the petite pile of problems, he allows her to come back and put Cadence to bed before she jets off the next day. Juliette softly sings the baby to sleep (again with the hugging!), while Daddy works on another chapter in his memoir, Crying in the Hallway: The Avery Barkley Story.

    FILM VS. FAMILY | At the movie’s press conference in New York the next day — side note: Do movies hold press conferences before production has even begun? — a question from a reporter prompts Juliette to admit that she’s been in a bad way since Cadence was born. So she comes clean about rehab and her failed marriage, then abruptly backs out of the part, saying “I need to be with my daughter right now.” That’s sweet and all, Ju, but you do understand what a contract is, right? We’re talking about Spielberg here, which leads me to believe you’re about to have close encounters of the legal kind.

    Back at home later, Juliette opens the door to see Avery there, saying she can have more time with Cadence. She tells him she didn’t give up the role to change his mind, and he responds that he didn’t change his mind because she gave up the role. They smile a little, and that’s something, right?

    LAYLA LAID LOW | This week, in the extended sad trombone sound that is Layla’s life, she plays an amazing showcase set at Highway 65 — her song, “The Book,” is really, really good — and impresses country star Autumn Chase so much that the two make plans to talk business at the Exes show at The Bluebird later that night. But when they get there, Autumn is so blown away by Scarlett and Gunnar, she hires them as her opening act. Wah-wahhh. And then when Layla calls Avery, crying, he’s too busy mending fences with Juliette to pick up, so Layla ugly-cries on her bed, alone. Wah-wahhhh-wahhhhhhhh.

    HEALIN’ DEALIN’ RECORDS | Will is planning to release his own, independent album, but he needs Luke to release the hold he has on the tunes Will wrote with Kevin. Or, you could just call Kevin, tell him you love him, make up and write more, Will. Just a thought.

    But Luke is preoccupied by Colt’s insistence that his dad sign the parental consent forms so he can join the Army. Luke initially is dead-set against it, but a talking-to from the boy’s grandfather helps change his mind, and Luke acquiesces so his Maddie-deflowering son can enlist. And when Will demands that Luke give him back his songs, Luke instead offers Will his old Wheelin’ Dealin’ contract back. I give Luke a ton of grief in these recaps, but it’s a nice moment when he apologizes for yanking Will off the label months back. “I’ve come to realize just ’cause something’s hard or scary doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, especially if it’s something you believe in,” Luke says, moving Will to tears as they shake on it, “and I believe in you.”

    MEANWHILE, AT RAYNA’S… | I am sad to report that Rayna and Deacon’s only time together in the entire episode takes place at the very end, as they recap their recent woes to each other while cuddling on the couch. His update: The day after celebrating his 15 years of sobriety, Frank took The Beverly’s stage drunk, had to be hauled off by Deacon, and said some mean things to his business partner before sleeping it off. The next morning, he apologized, but Deacon noted the truth of the angry words and admits he “got caught up” in making the venue a hit and “steamrolled” his AA sponsor in the process. For the love of Connie Britton’s storied cinnabar tresses, Deke, please see this interlude for the cautionary tale it is and GET OUT OF THE BAR BUSINESS.

    Her update: She’s frustrated that the cops can’t find Vita, and sad when a local detective informs her that girls like the missing homeless singer/songwriter often “just disappear.” (Side note: I also love how the detective is the one person in all of Nashville who isn’t wowed by Rayna’s name or presence. Stay hard-boiled, my friend.)

    Meet Alicia Witt's New Nashville Superstar, Autumn Chase

    (4/6/16) Move over, Rayna James—there's another country superstar in town and she makes her debut in tonight's episode of Nashville. Alicia Witt, who caused plenty of trouble on The Walking Dead this season, joins the cast as Autumn Chase, a major artist in the pop-country music world. When the actress spoke to E! News after her TWD exit, she also spilled some details on her newest role—which is pretty much the opposite of her TWD character.

    "I like her a whole lot. She could not possibly be any more different from [TWD character] Paula, which is neat," Witt tells us. "She's a pop-country star. She's not full-on country, but she's been around for 20 years. Sort of in the same wheelhouse as Sheryl Crow, maybe Bonnie Raitt. She's funky. She's not one of those rhinestones and big flashy dresses kind of a gal. She's wearing her ripped jeans and cool t-shirts."

    While Paula was an uber villain, Autumn is a fun-loving musician. "She's got a really mischievous, flirty attitude that I'm digging getting to play. She's definitely making some trouble," Witt dishes.

    Witt will be working with some of the younger singers on Nashville, but her first song on the show is a duet with Connie Britton. "Her character joins me on the tour and we're at the arena. She comes out on stage and she joins me for this really kickass song that was written by Kacey Musgraves and Miranda Lambert and Natalie Hemby, so they're no slouches," she says. "So, that's pretty cool."

    In real life, Witt is an accomplished singer who has released several albums of her own. "It's been very magical to be playing this character who does what I do, but on a much larger scale, obviously," she says. "I've been coming to Nashville now for so many years. My last record was recorded at RCA Studio A, and it was produced by Ben Folds. I've been spending quite a lot of time here the last four years or so anyway, so the fact that I get to work here and pretend I'm a local for these few months, at least, if not into next year—we don't really know yet—it's just so great."

    Not to mention the whole singing aspect. "It's really cool to get to go into the studio and record and not be an actor who can sing, but isn't really used to it. I'm so comfortable in the studio, this is where I'm most happy. It's beyond a joy. It's completely thrilling. It's really a dream job."

    Nashville airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on ABC.

    Connie Britton Loves Traveling with Her 5-Year-Old Son: He’s My ‘Best Companion’

    (4/6/16) Connie Britton has the perfect sidekick for her jet-setting life as an actress — and he’s quite the cutie.

    Britton told PEOPLE at The People vs. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story – For Your Consideration event at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in Los Angeles on Monday that she loves bringing son Yoby, 5, along when she travels.

    “I drag him everywhere! I mean, he’s always on a plane and he is just the best companion,” she says, adding, “My son is like the greatest person on this planet!”

    Britton, who adopted Yoby (a nickname for Eyob) from Ethiopia in 2011, says she “got so lucky” with the little boy’s amenable personality.

    “He’s the most gung ho kid and he’s up for anything,” the 49-year-old shares. She explains that no matter what pops up on their always-packed itinerary, Yoby is onboard.

    When the dynamic duo isn’t traveling, they’re playing with Yoby’s favorite superheroes or building toy towers together.

    “Mommyhood is fantastic,” Britton says. “We have the best time together.”

    Britton — who portrays Faye Resnick on the addictive FX series – also talked about the challenges of playing a well-known person during Tuesday’s panel discussion.

    “I like to keep myself as uninformed as possible,” Britton shared, admitting that prior to accepting the role she “didn’t even know who Faye was.”

    Hayden Panettiere's Parents' Nasty Divorce Over ... Dad Still Owes Hayden

    (4/4/16) Hayden Panettiere's parents have finally put their divorce to bed, and part of the final terms include an outstanding debt to their daughter.

    According to the divorce docs ... Alan will pay $5,000 a month in spousal support to Hayden's mother, Lesley, for the next 5 years or until she remarries.

    Alan also agreed to shoulder all of the money owed to their daughter. As we reported ... Hayden helped out mom and dad last year by letting Lesley live in her condo, and loaning Alan $100k.

    Based on the docs, Lesley wanted to make sure that dough wasn't coming out of her pocket. The divorce settlement brings the nearly 8 year divorce battle to a close.

    Elton John to Appear on Nashville

    (4/4/16) Nashville better turn on those sad songs, because Sir Elton John is about to sit in.

    The über-popular British singer/songwriter will appear in the May 18 episode, per The Hollywood Reporter. John, who will play himself, will perform in a scene with Sam Palladio’s Gunnar.

    John is just the latest big-name act to show up in the ABC drama’s fictional Music City: Kesha, Kelsea Ballerini and Thomas Rhett are set to guest-star later this season, and the roster of acts who’ve appeared on the ABC drama since its start include Kelly Clarkson, Brad Paisley, Florida Georgia Line and Sara Evans.

    Wonderful Crazy Night, John’s latest album, was produced by former Nashville executive music producer T-Bone Burnett (who is husband of Nashville creator Callie Khouri).

    Ratings: Empire Returns Up After 4-Month Break, Hits 6-Episode High

    (3/31/16) Fox’s Empire returned from its four-month break to 12.2 million total viewers and a 4.7 demo rating on Wednesday night, up from its winter finale (11.8 mil/4.5), on par with its Season 2 average (12.3 mil/4.8) and delivering its best numbers since Oct. 21.

    Opening Fox’s night, bubble drama Rosewood (6 mil/1.4) surged to its best demo number since… the last time it led into Empire.

    Elsewhere in the ratings….

    CBS | Survivor (9.4 mil/2.1) was steady. Criminal Minds (9.3 mil/1.8) slipped 15 and 18 percent with Empire back in the mix, but was up from its last time (8.8 mil/1.6) facing off against the Fox sudser. Beyond Borders (7.3 mil/1.4) dipped a tenth.

    THE CW | Arrow (2.4 mil/0.9) rose 14 and 29 percent from last week’s series lows; Supernatural (1.6 mil/0.6) was steady.

    NBC | Heartbeat (4.8 mil/0.9) excised a few eyeballs but held steady in the demo. Opposite Empire, SVU (6 mil/1.4) ticked down to its smallest audience in a year and its lowest rating since Nov. 18. Chicago PD (6.7 mil/1.5) was up a tenth.

    ABC | Leading out of sitcom reruns, bubble drama Nashville (3.9 mil/0.9) ticked down to its smallest audience ever while steady in the demo.

    Nashville Recap: In Vita Veritas

    (3/30/16) Welp, they can’t all be Jewel, am I right, Rayna?

    When Vita, a down-on-her-luck car-dweller with a celestial voice showed up in last week’s Nashville, she seemed like Highway 65’s next big thing: a rough piece of rock just needing the some time at Rayna Jaymes’ Home for Emotionally Needy Female Artists to polish her into the label’s next gem. But in this week’s installment, she’s revealed as a thief (!), a liar (!!) and someone whose enemies think arson is the best way to send a miffed message.

    Meanwhile, Riff is so rusty after decades out of the spotlight, he lashes out at Luke rather than admit that his skillz may no longer pay the billz; Maddie’s infatuation with Cash is getting a little weird; Avery goes on a date; and Deacon literally drives his business partner to drink. Read on for the highlights of “If I Could Do It All Again.”

    METHINKS HE DOTH PROTEST TOO MUCH | Riff joining Luke’s tour has the intended effect: All of the tickets sell out, and Mr. Global Brand himself can’t wait to go wheels-up. Two problems quickly arise, though. 1) Riff is really out of practice at performing. 2) Riff is a really big jerk about it, blaming Luke’s band for his shortcomings and getting personal when his old friend tries to address the situation. He sniffs that he’s not going to practice with the guys for an upcoming show at The Beverly because he’s expected at his kid’s soccer game and “Unlike your kids, mine like having me around.” Wheelin’-dealin’ burn!

    When Riff’s ego calms down, he admits to Luke that he still wants to go on the road, but he needs a lot of help getting back to the level of performance he was at when he retired. I hope Luke is paying his musicians top dollar, because they spiff Riff up until he’s in top form for his first comeback appearance at The Beverly. (Side note: When two reporters in the audience nod approvingly at each other as they scribble in their notebooks, so you know you’ve made it!)

    Deacon also gets up on stage and loves his role as emcee during Riff’s Beverly show, and when people talk about him as though he’s the sole owner of the venue, he doesn’t do a lot to correct them — which will be a problem later. But first, let’s talk about Vita.

    THE DEAL WITH THE STEAL | Rayna knows an easy way to determine whether the singer-songwriter took $500 from The Beverly’s till: She asks her, point-blank. And Vita looks Big Red straight in the eye and says no. Then she performs a tune she wrote, blowing Rayna and Bucky away with her soulfulness and the way she seems so much older than her years. Later, Vita tells Rayna that she and her sister were in the foster-care system for a really long time, and music was the only thing that saved her. The way Rayna’s eyes are saying, “Same girl, same” is a little ridiculous — yeah, you had a strict jerk for a dad, Ray; but this girl has basically had to fen for herself since she was Daphne’s age — but given what happens later, I’ll allow it.

    Vita shows up for her shift at The Beverly, where Deacon greets her warmly and Frank gives her the stinkeye. It eventually gets to the point where Vita and Deke’s sponsor are yelling at each other about the missing $500, and she finally admits that she nipped it but was planning to pay it back. Upon learning the truth, Rayna visits Vita’s studio apartment on wheels for an explanation. Vita tells her she needed the cash to pay off some guys whom her sister owed or something, but it’s too late: Rayna sadly informs her that the Highway 65 contract isn’t going to happen. And later, when Rayna swings by the parking lot again, Vita is gone, her guitar is smashed into molecules on the pavement, and her car is torched.

    Oh, and Frank lemonpusses his way all over The Beverly during Riff’s show — and especially when it seems like everyone thinks Deacon is God’s gift to bar-and-grill ownership — until his emotions get the better of him and he runs to the storeroom and has a drink.

    TEENAGE DREAM | Elsewhere, Frank’s daughter Cash — who until recently seemed like a good-if-momentarily delusional (remember that comment about maturity?) influence on Maddie — suddenly seems way more into her friendship with a teenage girl than a well-adjusted young woman should be. One night at The Bluebird, she performs a song she wrote with Rayna’s older daughter, and though it’s really good and very catchy, it’s just racy enough to make Cole clutch his teenage pearls. (Side note: Though that phrase sounds vaguely dirty, it’s not.) He confronts Maddie about it, which turns into them arguing over whether or not music is a worthwhile endeavor, and they break up. Maddie laments this turn of events in teary conversations with Cash, leaving Daphne to feel very left out of her sister’s life.

    A note on this storyline: As someone who was once an annoying teenage girl, I fully understand how someone like Maddie would become infatuated with someone like Cash. She’s cool. She’s slightly older but not old. She’s pretty. She has a career that Maddie wants to pursue, and — most importantly — she makes Maddie feel like what she says and thinks matters. To cranky adolescent ladies, there is no greater currency. So that part of the storyline rings really true to me (holler if you hear me, fellow 30-somethings), but because this is Nashville, I keep thinking that something horrible/outlandish is going to happen. Like Cash is going to pull an Emily Valentine and torch the homecoming float or something. SEE WHAT YOU’VE DONE TO ME, CALLIE KHOURI?

    AVERY ON THE MEND | Avery goes on a date with a single mom he meets at the playground. It makes him happier for a short while, but his inability to talk about anything other than Juliette makes her pump the brakes (kindly) on their hookup. Layla takes the news of Avery’s back-on-the-marketness badly, bitching at the staff during a photo shoot. Glenn sits her down, and I love the weariness in his voice as he uses all of the lessons learned while handling Juliette to calm this wannabe diva. “Let’s find out what you’re actually worried about, and we can nip this thing in the bud,” he tells her… and I also love the surprise on his face when she actually does what he says.

    Being compared to Juliette — her sworn enemy — brings Ms. Grant up short, and she’s immediately contrite as she confesses that she’s kind of got feelings for Avery. Glenn advises her to recognize those feelings as griefy reboundish emotions and to ignore them. And while Glenn is awesome, I can’t help but feel as though Ju would’ve made far more low-level assistants cry before receiving his message. Layla, you can’t even bitch right.

    MUSIC CITY GOINGS-ON | Gunnar and Scarlett decide to put both of their names on all of their songs, regardless of which of them actually wrote the song… Colt may enlist in the Army… Will is courted by a gay record label that wants him mainly because he’s hot and likes kissing boys. “Who I am is not a gay country singer,” he informs the label head. “I’m a country singer who happens to be gay.” Could’ve fooled me…

    'Why Is This Happening to You, Mom?' Kimberly Williams-Paisley Writes Candid, Emotional Book About Her Mother's Struggle with Dementia

    (3/30/16) Kimberly Williams-Paisley started noticing odd changes in her mother's behavior when she got engaged to country superstar Brad Paisley in 2002.

    When the Father of the Bride actress excitedly told her mother, Linda Williams, that she was getting married, she was met, in part, with silence – not exactly the reaction Williams-Paisley expected, she tells PEOPLE.

    "We are such a close family and I was the first kid to get engaged and I thought, 'That's what it is,' " says Williams-Paisley, 44.

    After she and Paisley wed in 2003, her mother embraced her son-in-law wholeheartedly, but continued acting in ways her family had never seen before. She began mispronouncing words and showing frequent signs of confusion – like the time she asked if she could order nachos at Starbucks. Williams-Paisley says she, her father, Gurney, her sister, Something Borrowed actress Ashley Williams, and brother, Jay Williams, "knew that something was up."

    In 2005, they learned that her mother, then 62, was suffering from a rare and incurable form of early-onset dementia called primary progressive aphasia, which left her moody, accident-prone and increasingly unable to recognize her own family.

    In her poignant new book, Where the Light Gets In: Losing My Mother Only to Find Her Again, out April 5, Williams-Paisley details her family's difficult journey – including the mistakes they made along the way – as they bonded together, trying to help her mother as best they could.

    During one touching visit at the long-term care facility where her mother, now 72, lives, the actress writes that she often asks, Why is this happening to you, Mom?

    One of the highlights of the book is how Williams-Paisley learned to embrace the woman her mother has become. "It was really important to me to have the silver linings and the positives in it," she says.

    The book also provides a list of resources, such as where to get information and help for caregivers, which Williams-Paisley hopes will help others who are dealing with dementia. "That motivates me more than anything," says Williams-Paisley, who is a spokeswoman for the Alzheimer's Association. (Alzheimer's is a form of dementia.)

    Since her mother had asked her and her family to keep her dementia private for years, out of embarrassment, Williams-Paisley says, "Unfortunately, we missed out on a lot of resources we could have gotten. But we were doing the best we could. Helping other people just makes me feel really proactive."

    For more information, visit and

    Hayden Panettiere Has a Sexy New Role: Carl's Jr. Commercial Star

    (3/26/16) (Video) Hayden Panettiere is turning up the heat!

    The 26-year-old Nashville actress stars in a new Carl's Jr. commercial to promote the fast food chain's Midnight Moonshine Burger. Wearing a cleavage-baring black button-down top tucked into matching shorts, Panettiere bites into the massive sandwich inside what appears to be a distillery as a fire rages in the background and Jessie James Decker is heard singing.

    The actress joins a long list of stars who have appeared in sexy Carl's Jr. ads. The roster includes Kim Kardashian, Kate Upton, Audrina Patridge, Emily Ratajkowski, Heidi Klum and Padma Lakshmi.

    Panettiere has appeared in commercials before. In 2013, she showcased her singing chops in a Cotton commercial. She is also a celebrity spokesmodel for Neutrogena and has appeared in several of the skincare and makeup company's ads.

    The Midnight Moonshine Burger contains a charcoal-grilled, 100 percent black Angus beef patty topped with a moonshine glaze, pepper jack cheese, garlic and pepper fried onions and thick-cut, applewood-smoked bacon, according to CNBC. Parent company CKE Restaurants partnered with Hall of Fame NASCAR driver Junior Johnson on the sandwich. He is a partial owner of Piedmont Distillers, the dispenser of Junior's Midnight Moonshine.

    The burger will be available for a limited time in more than 3,600 Carl's Jr. and Hardees restaurants.

    "It knocked everybody's socks off when we tasted it," CKE Restaurants CEO Andy Puzder told CNBC.

    Friday Night Lights' Connie Britton & Adrianne Palicki Have a Reunion

    (3/24/16) (Pic) It's a Friday Night Lights reunion!

    Connie Britton, 49, who played Tami Taylor on the hit show, recently hung out with Adrianne Palicki, 32, who portrayed Tyra Collette.

    "Nothing better than reuniting with this Austin, TX no less!" Britton wrote on her Instagram page Wednesday, alongside a photo of the two. "A friendship that stands the test of time and place. And congrats @adriannepalicki on finishing out a great #Marvel adventure...and all that lie ahead! #wcw."

    Palicki began playing Bobbi Morse on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in 2014 and her character was disavowed from S.H.I.E.L.D. in an episode that aired this week. The actress is set to reprise her role in a spinoff, Marvel's Most Wanted.

    Britton is currently best known for her role as Rayna Jaymes on Nashville.

    This marked the first time the two Friday Night Lights stars have been photographed together since the show ended its five-season run in 2011.

    There have been other mini reunions for the former cast members since then. In 2013, Matt Lauria (Luke), Gaius Charles (Smash), Zach Gilford (Matt Saracen) and Kevin Rankin (Herc) hung out together. in 2015, Scott Porter (Jason) introduced his baby boy to Lauria and Charles.

    In 2015, Britton presented the Feed The Peace Award to Kyle Chandler, 50, who played main cast member and her character's husband, Eric Taylor, at the Nobelity Project's Feed the Peace Awards in Austin.

    Friday Night Lights the series was inspired by a 2004 movie starring different actors, including Billy Bob Thornton.

    Britton was asked by Vulture in 2015 if she would be on board for another movie or a sequel series. None have been planned.

    "I would, I just would," she said. "Listen, I love that world. I love those characters. I love those actors."

    How Hayden Panettiere Got Her Pre-Baby Body Back!

    (3/24/16) Hayden Panettiere didn’t put too much pressure on herself to lose baby weight – and her healthy attitude has obviously worked out for her.

    “The more that you give yourself grace, the better that you feel,” the actress, 26, told PEOPLE on the set of her upcoming Carl’s Jr. commercial.

    “You go through the, ‘I’m not going to eat,’ ‘I’m not going to eat this,’ ‘I’m not going to eat that,’ ” she continues. “Part of [losing the weight] is mind, body and spirit. Spirit’s a huge part of it, so being happy and being content [helps].”

    Going back to work on her hit show Nashville also helped her drop the baby weight.

    “I’m standing on my feet on the show for sometimes hours in a day,” she explains.

    For added exercise, Panettiere likes to get on the treadmill and zone out.

    “I put on some guilty pleasure TV and just jog,” she says.

    And her 15-month-old daughter Kaya sometimes gets involved in her workouts too.

    “Working out with your baby is actually great,” says Panettiere. “When I’m holding her in my arms, I lift her above my head, or do bicep curls with her, or I’ll dance with her a lot. She’s the best weight I can find!”

    Ratings: Criminal Minds Hits 11-Month High, Best Audience Since Nov. 2014

    (3/24/16) CBS’ Criminal Minds this Wednesday drew 10.7 million total viewers and a 2.1 rating, rising 9 percent and two tenths to its largest audience since Nov. 26, 2014 and its best demo number in almost a year.

    Bookending that, Survivor (9.2 mil/2.0) and Beyond Borders (7.6 mil/1.5) each shed a few eyeballs plus a tenth in the demo.

    Elsewhere in the ratings….

    THE CW | Arrow returned to 2.1 mil and a 0.7, down 22 and 30 percent to tie its series lows. Supernatural (1.7 mil/0.6) ticked down to match its season lows.

    NBC | Heartbeat (5.3 mil/0.9) fell 16 and 36 percent from its apres-Voice sneak preview, and landed 28 and 25 percent below time slot predecessor Mysteries of Laura‘s season finale. SVU (6.1 mil/1.5) dipped 12 percent and a tenth. Chicago PD (6.2 mil/1.3) slipped 14 percent and two tenths.

    ABC | The Middle (7.2 mil/1.7), black-ish (6.1 mil/1.9) and Nashville (4.2 mil/0.9) were all steady, while Goldbergs (6.6 mil/1.9) and Modern Family (7.7 mil/2.4) each ticked down.

    FOX | Rosewood (3.7 mil/1.0) and Hell’s Kitchen (3.6 mil/1.2) each added a tenth.

    Nashville Recap: Signed, Sealed, Dejected

    (3/24/16) That terrible, gut-wrenching sound you just heard? The one that sounded like your favorite music box crashing to the ground, fluffy puppies being denied kibble, and unicorn tears splashing in a rainbow puddle? That was the heart of Nashville‘s Avery as it finally, firmly tore itself asunder.

    Yep, this week’s episode finds the Barkley-Barnes union officially undone after Cadence’s daddy reaches his breaking point. And guess who’s right there to help him realize that enough’s enough? A vengeance-filled former reality star with dramatic bangs and a yen to napalm Juliette’s world.

    Read on as we review what happens in “How Does It Feel to Be Free.”

    FREE TO BE IN MISERY | Avery tries to see Juliette at the treatment facility twice this episode. The first time, her probably-well-meaning-but-still-SUPER-annoying therapist says that Ju “doesn’t feel now is a safe time to be engaging with you”

    due to her emotional fragility, and when Avery gets angry at that — as pretty much anyone in his situation would, I think — the physician ushers him out, saying, “The last thing Juliette needs now is this kind of drama.” Again, probably true… but as someone trained in helping people manage their emotional states, maybe a little empathy is in order, doc?

    Anyway, Avery spends a lot of time at the studio, helping Layla with her second album. But when Luke comes looking for Avery because he’s had trouble getting in touch with Juliette, the overwrought producer decides he can’t lie anymore: He confides in Layla that Juliette is in treatment for postpartum depression, prompting her to lay a calculated hand on his forearm and gently prod him toward ripping of the Band-Aid by reminding him that he deserves to feel free, too.

    Next thing we know, Avery is back at the hospital, demanding that Juliette’s doctor give her a message: “We’re over. We’ve been over,” he says, issuing an ultimatum that if she doesn’t go public with their divorce in the next 24 hours, he will. She complies, he cries and takes off his wedding band, and then he seems noticeably lighter the next time he and Layla hit the studio. Side note: Cadence isn’t in this episode at all. I hope she and Emily are off somewhere, having a nice spa day.

    RISKY BUSINESS | A woman named Vita walks into The Beverly and asks Deacon for a spot on the already-full open-mic list. He grudgingly allows her to audition for one, then he’s so blown away by her talent that he has Rayna and Bucky come down to the bar that night to hear her play. Vita is pretty amazing, but when Rayna all but offers her a record deal right there and then, she acts really oddly.

    Turns out, Vita has hit hard times and needs a job pronto. But when the felony question on the bar’s application sends her running, Rayna tracks her down and realizes the younger woman has been living in her car since arriving in Nashville. “I’ve done some things I’m not real proud of. But I’m not that girl anymore,” she says, copping to being arrested in her past. But Ray encourages her to go back and give the waitressing gig another shot; though Frank takes some convincing, she eventually gets the gig.

    All is well until the end of Vita’s first shift, when $500 is missing from the till — and Frank is pretty sure it went straight into her pocket. I understand his suspicion, because Vita is a bit shifty, but would someone who has a potential record deal just waiting for her take the risk of lifting cash from a bar belonging to that label head’s husband?

    ERIN EXITS | Scarlett sees Erin kissing a dude in a truck, and when Scar acts all squirrelly around Gunnar, he demands she tell him what’s up. So he confronts his lady, who counters with the fact that they weren’t monogamous… but she’s willing to be, because she likes him so much. Thing is, though? Gunnar doesn’t really care that Erin was swapping spit with Random Guy #1, because he’s not really into their relationship. That stings a bit, but she puts on her big girl ugly hat and bids him a fond farewell. Oh, and Scarlett? She has a date with “taxidermy guy from the wedding. Don’t say nothing about it,” she warns Gunnar. I’m just happy that she’s taking my advice.

    HATE SLIME | Will happily agrees to sit in on Gunnar and Scarlett’s next live show, but his performance is cut short when a homophobic bag of garbage in the audience yells gay slurs and then throws a beer bottle at Will’s face, making him bleed. The cops come, and the detective in charge says all Will needs to do is give a statement so they can arrest the dude on hate-crime charges. But Will declines, choosing instead to return to the same bar soon after to finish his set. The violent gay-hater is there again, yelling terrible things, but the crowd is definitely behind Will this time. And when Scarlett and Gunnar get up in the guy’s face, he and his awful friends leave. I have my doubts about whether someone who thinks it’s acceptable to brazenly yell “Homo!” in front of a crowded room would be that intimidated by a blonde garden pixie and her lanky sidekick, but that’s neither here nor there.

    AND WHEN HE’S HOLLERED UNCLE, WE’LL TEAR UP THE TOWN | Luke’s feelings get hurt when his fans start to turn on him over not being a “real” country guy anymore, thanks to the money and the branding and the tax snafu and blah blah. And Luke’s still smarting over Colt’s refusal to return his calls or texts. So when he runs into old pal Riff, who used to be a huge star but retired a while ago so he could put his family first, Luke thinks he’s come up with the perfect solution to his tour woes: Riff will tour with him and help him get back to his roots! Riff is down with that idea, with one caveat: That he can bring his wife and teenage son and daughter with him. And just like that, they have a wheelin’ dealin’, er, deal. (Side note: What’s the over/under on number of episodes before Luke gets jealous of Riff’s family harmony and starts a fight over something stupid?)

    Hayden Panettiere on Recovering from Postpartum Depression: ‘It’s Okay to Ask for Help’

    (3/23/16) Since recovering from her own struggle with postpartum depression after seeking professional treatment, Hayden Panettiere wants to let other mothers know that taking the first step towards health is nothing to be ashamed of.

    “The biggest message that I’ve been trying to promote for women is that it’s okay to ask for help,” the Nashville star, 26, told PEOPLE on the set of her new Carl’s Jr. commercial. “You feel mommy guilt — it’s for real.”

    Panettiere — who gave birth to daughter Kaya Evdokia in December 2014 — knows that many moms can judge themselves too harshly for their perceived shortcomings.

    “It’s like being in a tunnel,” she said. “You can’t even remember when you felt good. You try and think back to when you felt good, when you felt positive, when you felt happy, and you can’t. All you see is this enveloping darkness.’

    Going public with her battle and recovery has helped the actress to move past those feelings.

    “I’ve just been trying to be much more open and honest about who I am,” says Panettiere. “I’m 26 years old, I’m an adult, and [I don’t] have to falsify who I am.”

    For more of Panettiere’s interview on postpartum depression and how she moved on, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

    ‘Nashville’ Showrunner Change: Marshall Herskovitz & Ed Zwick To Replace Dee Johnson As Series Seeks Renewal

    (3/23/16) The studio behind ABC’s bubble drama series Nashville is looking to boost the show’s renewal chances by bringing in new showrunners. Thirtysomething creators Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz will take the helm of the country music-themed series if it goes to Season 5, replacing current showrunner Dee Johnson, who will exit at the end of the current fourth season.

    The showrunner assignment for veterans Herskovitz and Zwick, first reported by TVLine, falls under the first-look deal the duo inked last fall with Lionsgate TV, which co-produces Nashville with ABC Studios.

    Nashville has been an important series for Lionsgate TV, the biggest broadcast show for the cable and streaming-centric indie studio. The renewal of the modestly rated drama had gone down to the wire the last couple of seasons, mostly coming down to ABC and Lionsgate haggling over the big price tag of the show starring Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere and eventually coming to an agreement. The showrunner hire is a pre-emptive move often employed by studios behind bubble series in an attempt to secure a renewal. For Nashville, the stakes are higher than usual this year as one of its biggest supporters at ABC, Paul Lee, recently exited in an executive shakeup. Nashville and Castle were the two established ABC drama series that did not get an early pickup earlier this month. (Castle‘s renewal is complicated by the need for new contract with star Nathan Fillion.)

    Nashville‘s Live+same day ratings have been very low – it recently returned from hiatus to a 4.3 million total viewers and a o.9 adults 18-49 rating — and that was actually up from the winter finale. On the plus side, it has been a solid DVR gainer, and it has spawned a music and touring business. Creatively, Nashville faced a major challenge this season as it had to accommodate the lengthy medical leave of one of its stars, Panettiere.

    Johnson has been on Nashville since the first season, working alongside creator Callie Khouri.

    Zwick and Herskovitz, who also created My So-Called Life, Relativity, Once And Again and the influential online series quarterlife, previously had an overall deal at 20th Century Fox TV.

    Through their Bedford Falls banner, Herskovitz and Zwick produced such movies as Legends Of The Fall, The Last Samurai and Blood Diamond, all of which were directed by Zwick, as well as I Am Sam and Traffic. Zwick most recently directed and produced Pawn Sacrifice starring Tobey Maguire and Liev Schreiber, which was released in September.

    Ratings: Nashville Ticks Up With Nuptial-Themed Return

    (3/17/16) Rayna and Deacon swapped vows in front of 4.3 million guests on Wednesday, boosting Nashville‘s winter premiere 5 percent over its fall finale (4.1 million). And among adults 18-49, the ABC drama was up a tenth, scoring a 0.9.

    Opening ABC’s night, The Middle (7.1 mil/1.7) was down two tenths, while The Goldbergs (6.7 mil/1.9), Modern Family (8.1 mil/2.5) and black-ish (6.2 mil/1.9) were steady.

    Elsewhere in the ratings….

    CBS’ second stab at a Criminal Minds spinoff got off to a solid-ish debut, drawing 8.6 million viewers and a 1.6 demo rating (improving on Code Black’s Season 1 average of 7.1 mil/1.3); TVLine readers gave the premiere an average grade of “B-.” Leading into that, Criminal Minds’ 250th episode (9.6 mil/1.9) added some eyeballs while matching its previous rating. Survivor (9.4 mil/2.1) matched last week’s numbers.

    Fox’s Rosewood (3.7 mil/0.9) and Hell’s Kitchen (3.6 mil/1.1) were flat.

    Connie Britton Previews the 'Cold, Hard Reality' Rayna and Deacon Face After the Wedding

    (3/17/16) You’d think that, after all of their romantic ups and downs over the years, Nashville‘s Rayna and Deacon would’ve at least gotten to celebrate their decades-in-the-making wedding with a little honeymoon. Perhaps sipping frosty umbrella drinks beachside at an all-inclusive resort where the housekeeping staff makes animals out of their towels each evening. Maybe strolling, hand-in-hand, down the romantic sidewalks of Paris.

    Heck, we would’ve even accepted a secluded, pants-optional weekend at Deke’s cabin.

    But series star Connie Britton tells TVLine that the euphoria from Wednesday’s episode, which finds the lovebirds finally becoming man and wife, burns off rather quickly.

    “Basically it seems like the motto of Nashville is: Rayna and Deacon don’t get to be happy for very long,” she says ruefully.

    If you need it, here’s a quick recap of the midseason premiere: Despite some hiccups — namely Deacon’s suspicion he’ll ruin Rayna’s life by being a screw-up and Tandy/Maddie/Daphne’s sudden doubt that Deacon is the right partner for Rayna — The First Lady of Country Music and her man get hitched in front of their family and friends (minus Juliette, who’s still in treatment, and Will, who backs out after fallout from his incident with closeted country star Wade Cole).

    At the reception, while the happy couple dances into the night, Avery drinks too much and decides he can no longer cover for his absent wife, whom everyone thinks is abroad. Meanwhile, Luke’s son Colt tells a devastated Layla what really happened on the night of Jeff’s death, causing her to hatch a plan to bring down Juliette Barnes.

    Below, Britton gives us a sense of what Mr. and Mrs. Claybourne’s immediate future looks like and whether the pair will share a stage before the season ends.

    TVLINE | I’m wondering if Rayna at all becomes involved in the plan that Layla formulates at the end of the episode, to take down Juliette?

    Oh, no.

    TVLINE | Maybe “involved” is the wrong word — is she affected by it, moving forward? Does it mess with her plans for the label?

    Not really. It doesn’t really end up impacting [her]. There’s a moment in one of the later episodes where I think Rayna starts to feel like, “I’ve done so much.” Basically feeling like it’s not all it’s cracked up to be to be a label head. I think part of that is feeling like Layla’s got her own agenda going on. Beyond that, no. You know, in later episodes we actually get into other story stuff. So Rayna doesn’t end up feeling it that much.

    TVLINE | In next week’s episode, Riff (played by Shameless‘ Steve Kazee) shows up in town and wants Deacon to go on the road with him. What might Rayna have to say about that, so soon after their wedding?

    Well, look, there are always things that happen that I’m like, I wish so much that Rayna and Deacon had a longer time before things start getting crazy. I actually don’t remember what Rayna ends up saying at that point. We shot that episode so long ago. I do feel like we very quickly move out of the la-la land of marriage and into cold, hard reality.

    TVLINE | That’s no good. Will we at least get to see them sing together or make music together?

    Nope. [Laughs]

    TVLINE | You’re killing me here.

    I know. Trust me, I’m with you. There is one moment where we’re on stage together, but we’re not actually singing together.

    TVLINE | During the wedding episode, Tandy and the girls raise some last-minute objections to Deacon. In your mind, is she open to hearing any of that? Or does she 100 percent believe what she tells them before the ceremony?

    I think she does. My feeling is, Rayna really has been through it with Deacon. She’s gotten to a place where she is making a very informed choice for her life. She’s also acknowledging her own part in it, which is that she loves the guy. She can’t get away from him. She’s tried for a good part of her life, so I do think she’s going into this with her eyes open and in the best way that she can… That’s the funny thing about when people are born, when people die and when people have weddings: The foundation of all families and relationships gets a little bit shaken. So that’s what we experience in this wedding.

    TVLINE | What episode are you shooting now?

    We’re on Episode 20 already.

    TVLINE | Throw me a tease about what’s going on in that episode.

    All I can say is as I said earlier: Happiness and contentment does not last long for Rayna and Deacon. That’s all I have to say.

    TVLINE | Any final thoughts on Rayna and Deacon’s big day?

    When I think back to the pilot of this show and all of my ideas of what I thought it was going to be, and looking at these characters and particularly the character of Deacon with Rayna, there certainly were satisfying moments in the wedding… with regard to that, because it did feel like we had built a story and an arc to get to this place. So that was very satisfying.

    Nashville's Rayna-Deacon Wedding Actually Happened! Are You Relieved?

    (3/17/16) It happened, y'all! Rayna and Deacon finally tied the knot on Nashville. Like, they actually walked down an aisle, said their vows, exchanged rings, and kissed. They presumably signed papers too. Which means that they're finally, officially together through sickness and health, car crashes and label changes—all of it!

    Naturally, there were a few complications before they could actually walk down the aisle. First, youngest Conrad daughter was super upset about what her mom's new marriage would mean for her. Thankfully, by the end of the episode everyone was on the same page (and young Daphne's fears were abated).

    Second, it turns out that someone leaked the top-secret wedding time and location, meaning Rayna and Deacon couldn't have the idyllic outdoor ceremony on Rayna's mom's farm like they wanted. Instead, they had a just-as-beautiful ceremony in a barn. When life gives ya lemons…you make lemonade, mix it with whiskey, then serve it to your wedding guests in mason jars as you get married in a barn instead (obviously this just turned into an amazing Pinterest fever dream).

    And as excited as we are that Rayna and Deacon are actually Mrs. and Mr. (and relieved—this is forever, right?), there was also some other incredible news: Juliette is back in the picture!

    The superstar singer has remained a fixture on the show while she dealt with her postpartum depression despite not actually appearing in the episodes (i.e. she's made her estranged husband/baby daddy Avery's life very difficult), but it seems we'll finally actually see what she's been up to all this time.

    If you're not excited about that, then maybe Rayna and Deacon's love didn't warm up your cold heart enough. Recommended remedy: warm up by watching the episode all over again. Problem solved!

    What did you think of the episode? Are you pumped Juliette is coming back?

    Nashville airs Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. on ABC.

    Nashville Star Connie Britton Previews Rayna and Deacon's Wedding: 'This Was a Long Time Coming'

    (3/15/16) We know you’ve been waiting quite a while for Rayna Jaymes and Deacon Claybourne to tie the knot, Nashville nation, but if series star Connie Britton had her druthers, the couple’s save-the-date wouldn’t even have graced your mailbox yet.

    After all, the happy couple jumps right into tying the knot when the drama returns Wednesday (10/9c) — a mere episode after Deke popped the question. “I mean, in my opinion, I think we could have actually drawn it out longer and made even more of a build-up to the wedding,” she tells TVLine, chuckling, a few days before the big event airs.

    Perhaps sensing the ire such a statement would cause among The First Lady of Country Music’s fans, she quickly adds, “But I thought it was great that they finally did it!” Read on for more nupitals scoop from the bride herself.

    TVLINE | The fact that Rayna and Deacon are actually going through with getting married is a huge deal. I know they talked about it very seriously at the end of Season 3, but how long had you known this was really going to happen?

    It wasn’t that long, actually. I probably knew as we were going into this season… We ended up just knowing that we were going to get into it at some point this year, which I was happy about.

    TVLINE | Was shooting the actual wedding, walking down the aisle and all, heightened for you in any way, given how much it means for your character? Or was it just another day of shooting the show?

    If I’m perfectly honest, the shooting process does tend to take away some of the real romance and glamor of those moments. [Laughs] It was certainly a beautiful day. I mean honestly, the part that struck me the most was as I was walking down the aisle. It was fun to see the reflection of everybody else’s point of view about what was happening, watching Rayna walk down the aisle. I think that the people who were sitting in the audience there — and even some of the cast members and the extras — were genuinely like, oh my God. I think they really felt like they were at a wedding, and that was really cool.

    TVLINE | Did you and Charles Esten talk about how to handle the scene ahead of time?

    It’s funny, because we had shot already a scene where — there’s another scene in the episode where we’re standing by a lake, and that’s where we were supposed to have the wedding. In that one, that is literally the rehearsal. I mean that was sort of the rehearsal of the wedding. It was funny because we really sort of had rehearsed it. We had rehearsed it in a previous scene. By the time we got there, it was a pretty straightforward walk down the aisle.

    There were definitely moments that we wanted to try to capture. To both of us, I know, it was really important to capture the idea that this was a long time coming and both characters had really worked through a lot to get to this place. There was something very special about that.

    Nashville Tour

    (3/14/16) ABC announced Monday that Nashville cast members — including Clare Bowen, Chris Carmack, Charles Esten, Will Chase, Jonathan Jackson and Aubrey Peeples — will once again go on tour this spring, including a first-ever run in the U.K. Tour dates and ticket info can be found here:

    Country Music Pair Book Nashville Guest Spots

    (3/12/16) Country artists Kelsea Ballerini and Thomas Rhett have separately booked guest spots on the ABC drama Nashville, playing themselves, and will each perform recent hits during their appearances.

    Kesha Will Guest Star on Nashville Amid Legal Battle

    (3/11/16) Kesha might be fighting a legal battle that's preventing her from making more music, but there's no reason she can't act! The singer/songwriter/sometime-actress is heading to the small screen for the second time this TV season, this time appearing as herself on ABC's Nashville.

    E! News confirmed that the pop star, who is embroiled in a lawsuit against record producer Dr. Luke, will drop by for a one episode cameo on the soap, playing herself. Earlier this season, she appeared on one episode of Jane the Virgin as Jane's noisy musician neighbor. Also appearing on Nashville in season four are country stars Kelsea Ballerini and Thomas Rhett, who will play themselves as well. The Hollywood Reporter originally reported the news.

    The stars won't appear in the same episodes, which are all slated for the latter half of the show's current fourth season.

    E! News reported yesterday that Dancing With the Stars pro Derek Hough, who is taking a season off from DWTS to star in Singin' In the Rain on Broadway, will reprise his role as Juliette's (Hayden Panettiere) leading man in her Patsy Cline biopic. He'll be back for multiple episodes this spring.

    When Nashville returns on Wednesday, we'll see the long-awaited wedding between Rayna and Deacon. Yes, it's actually happening! Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts and singer/songwriter Jim Lauderdale will both appear as themselves in the episode. Later this season, the show adds a pair of new (fictional) country stars to the mix, played by Steve Kazee and Alicia Witt.

    Nashville airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on ABC.

    Derek Hough Is Headed Back to Nashville!

    (3/10/16) Missing Derek Hough on your TV already now that we know he's officially not returning for Dancing With the Stars season 22? Here's some good news: He'll be back to the small screen sooner than you think.

    E! News has exclusively confirmed that the reigning DWTS champion is set to reprise his role on Nashville later this season for multiple episodes. Hough first recurred on the ABC drama in 2014 as Juliette's (Hayden Panettiere) leading man in the biopic the country-superstar-turned-actress was making about Patsy Cline.

    We last saw Hough's smokin' hot movie star Noah West back in season three, when he accidentally caused some drama for Juliette and Avery (Jonathan Jackson) in the episode "Nobody Said It Was Going to Be Easy." Juliette's baby daddy had just learned of her pregnancy—via text, no less—and paid her a visit on the set of her film, where he found Noah and Juliette together. Naturally, Avery assumed the worst (although the Noah-Juliette encounter was strictly innocent).

    There's no word on how, exactly, Noah will return to the fold, but considering the Patsy Cline movie is very clearly awards bait, perhaps he'll reunite with his costar for the long slog of awards season. (Not gonna lie, we wouldn't be mad about seeing Hough rock a tux.)

    Hough revealed recently that he was taking the season off from DWTS to star in the upcoming Broadway production of Singin' In the Rain, playing the role that Gene Kelly made famous in the classic 1952 movie. The stage version of the musical originally opened in 1983, and ran for a year.

    Nashville's fourth season returns to its Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. time slot on March 16 with the long-awaited wedding between Rayna and Deacon.

    Hayden Panettiere Details Her Experience with Postpartum Depression: ‘It Is One of the Most Debilitating, Scary, Guilty Feelings’

    (3/7/16) Hayden Panettiere is relieved that she’s been able to open up about her struggle with postpartum depression, but admits she was once scared of sharing her truth.

    “I was always so terrified that people weren’t going to accept me,” the 26-year-old tells Yahoo! Style in a new interview of revealing that she had PPD.

    “I finally just went, ‘I’m tired of living afraid. I’m tired of living in fear of what people are going to think, so, you know, I’m just going to put it all out there on the table and I’m not going to worry about the judgment.’ ”

    The Nashville actress — who shares daughter Kaya Evdokia, nearly 15 months, with fiancé Wladimir Klitschko — entered treatment last October, and was immediately “floored” by the outpouring of support she received.

    “The more open I was, the more acceptance I got from people,” she told Yahoo!. “I got so much support and so much love.”

    Panettiere added, “I feel much more exposed, yes, but in a great way.”

    What the star doesn’t appreciate, however, is the sometimes negative stigma that surrounds PPD.

    She says of critics: “It’s like you have no idea what you’re talking about. If you think for one second that a mother wants to feel that way toward her child, you’re outta your mind. It is one of the most debilitating, scary, guilty feelings that you can ever feel.”

    Continuing, “That a mother would not be able to connect with their child, would not be able to get a grip, or would not know what’s going on, for anybody to say that it’s false or created by us, you must have your head examined.”

    On top of her personal journey, Panettiere was also faced with her Nashville character’s own struggle with PPD — an unplanned coincidence. In fact, Juliette’s battle has extended past Panettiere’s own.

    “It was strange having to throw myself back into that frame of mind,” she shared. “The way I do things is to pull from my own personal experience and sometimes even turn myself into what I’m portraying so that I can pull from my life and step into that person’s shoes by being able to relate.”

    Eric Close To Play A Lead In ABC Pilot ‘The Death Of Eva Sofia Valdez’

    (3/7/16) Nashville alum Eric Close is set as the male lead opposite Gina Torres in ABC’s drama pilot The Death Of Eva Sofia Valdez.

    Written by Cuban-American playwright Charise Castro Smith, The Death Of Eva Sofia Valdez is described as a sexy revenge drama with a supernatural twist. It centers on Eva Sofia Valdez (Torres), a Cuban immigrant who rose from rags to riches and is a celebrated Miami entrepreneur and a champion for immigrant rights. But her success is fueled by an insatiable ambition that could destroy her family, a vendetta against the lover Blair Monroe (Close) who betrayed her, and ghosts from the past who threaten to reveal the dark sacrifices Eva Sofia made to attain the American Dream.

    Close’s Blair Monroe is a handsome and wealthy Miami aristocrat whose family has ruled the city for decades. Once deeply in love with Eva Sofia, he abandoned her, leaving her pregnant and destitute. Now a candidate for mayor, he meets Eva Sofia by chance at a public function — and pretends he has no recollection of her. However, he vividly recalls their affair — and in truth, there’s still a powerful attraction between them, even almost 30 years later. But his insulting and cowardly reaction to their chance meeting enrages Eva Sofia, whose thirst for vengeance may have tragic consequences for all involved.

    This marks a re-teaming of Close and Torres — Close has been recurring on the USA drama series Suits, which stars Torres.

    Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters executive produce alongside Castro Smith for ABC Studios.

    Close was a series regular opposite Connie Britton on the first three seasons of ABC drama Nashville. On the feature side, the Without a Trace alum was seen in Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper. He is repped by Gersh and Untitled Entertainment.

    Celebrities urge world leaders to fight for girls and women

    (3/7/16) A number of high-profile entertainers — including Oprah Winfrey, Mary J. Blige, Charlize Theron and Meryl Streep — have signed an open letter calling on world leaders to fight for gender equality across the globe.

    The letter released Sunday states that some 62 million girls around the world are denied the right to education, 500 million women can't read and 155 countries have laws that discriminate against women.

    "Nowhere on earth do women have as many opportunities as men. Nowhere," the letter states. "The fight for gender equality is global."

    Signers also include Tina Fey, Robert Redford, Shonda Rhimes, Ashley Judd, Amy Poehler, Colin Farrell, Danai Gurira, Connie Britton, Elton John, Patricia Arquette, Muhammed Ali, Sheryl Sandberg and Sean Parker. The push is organized by the ONE Campaign, co-founded by Irish rocker Bono to end extreme poverty and disease.

    "We still living in a time period where the most impoverished and disadvantaged people in the world are, without question, women and girls," said Gurira, the playwright of the Broadway show "Eclipsed," in an interview. "The light and the potential of women and girls in the world today is being blocked."

    The letter comes a few days before International Women's Day, which is Tuesday. It calls on leaders to help girls and women fight HIV and malnutrition and support female economic empowerment.

    Gurira, who also plays a sword-wielding zombie assassin on AMC's "The Walking Dead," has long been an advocate for women and will travel to Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress on Tuesday.

    "Enough is enough. We have to close this gap, and we have to make a concerted, focused effort and that requires speaking directly to the global leaders who have the power to make change," Gurira said. "It's an extension of myself to fight for and, as much as I can, give voice to those who are in systems of oppression based on their gender."

    An accompanying report called "Poverty Is Sexist 2016" reads: "In too many countries, being born poor and female means a life sentence of inequality, oppression and poverty — and in too many cases also a death sentence."

    Last year, Streep and singers Beyonce and Lady Gaga signed an open letter saying empowering women was the key to fighting the world's inequalities and poverty.

    Scott Reeves Returns to NASHVILLE

    (3/4/16) (Pic) Scott Reeves (ex-Ryan, THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS; ex-Steve, GENERAL HOSPITAL) teased a return to primetime, posting a photo of himself holding up a script for the ABC series NASHVILLE, writing, “Hmmmm…”

    Reeves previously appeared on NASHVILLE as music agent Noel Laughlin in a handful of episodes starting last season. What brings him back onto the canvas? You’ll have to stay tuned to find out! NASHVILLE airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET, and returns with new episodes beginning on March 16.

    ABC Gives Early Renewals To 15 Series, Leaves ‘Castle’ & ‘Nashville’ On the Bubble

    (/3/3/16) In one of her first programming moves since becoming president of ABC Entertainment, Channing Dungey has given early renewals to the bulk of the network’s established series. The list includes 15 series, including one freshman, breakout drama Quantico. It is joined by Shondaland dramas Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How To Get Away with Murder; dramas Once Upon a Time and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.; comedies Fresh off the Boat and the entire Wednesday lineup of The Goldbergs, Modern Family, Black-ish and The Middle and reality stalwarts Dancing with the Stars, The Bachelor, Shark Tank and America’s Funniest Home Videos.

    Not on the list are veteran procedural Castle, whose renewal is contingent on making a new deal with star Nathan Fillion. There had been preliminary conversations, but I hear talks paused when the changeover at the top of ABC happened and are expected to resume with new entertainment president Dungy.

    Also not making the early renewal cut are several bubble shows, drama Nashville, freshman comedy The Muppets and sophomore “bridge shows” Agent Carter, whose star already was recruited for an ABC pilot, and Galavant.

    Also MIA are Friday multi-camera comedies Last Man Standing and Dr. Ken, both of which have performed solidly on the night. The renewal of veteran Last Man Standing, which comes from 20th TV, has traditionally come down to the wire as the two companies wrangle over financial terms.

    The 15 early orders are in stark contrast to the MO employed by Dungey’s predecessor Paul Lee, who would hold off on all renewals — even of the network’s biggest shows — until the Thursday or Friday before upfront week. Early renewals are welcomed by showrunners and studios as they provide security, allowing them to lock in key writers for next season and spend more time planning the show’s creative direction.

    “We’re very proud of our strong roster of performers, and we’re excited about what they will bring us creatively next season,” said Channing Dungey, President, ABC Entertainment.

    Quantico, starring Priyanka Chopra, has been breaking DVR records with triple-digit lifts.

    Despite year-to-year declines, ABC’s Shondaland Thursday remains arguably the most potent all-drama lineup on broadcast TV.

    Once Upon a Time, which is marking its 100th episode this spring, has been slipping in the ratings but remains a solid DVR gainer. It also is among the shows with strongest synergy ties to the Disney brand, featuring many of the popular Disney fairytale characters.

    The Goldbergs, coming off its well-rated Dirty Dancing-themed episode last night, has been a success story for ABC. The Sony TV comedy had a rough start on Tuesday, paired with Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in its first season, but has excelled since relocating to the Wednesday comedy block at the beginning of Season 2.

    Ditto for Fresh Off the Boat, another sophomore comedy success for the network.

    Chris Carmack Engaged to Erin Slaver

    (3/2/16) Hayden Panettiere isn't the only Nashville star with a wedding to plan!

    Chris Carmack, who plays Will Lexington on the ABC show, is engaged to Erin Slaver, his rep confirmed to People (who was first to report the couple's happy news). The bride-to-be, who is a singer, actress, violinist and fiddler herself, also gushed over the couple's happy engagement news on social media.

    On Tuesday, she Instagrammed a smiling photo of herself and her fiancé celebrating "Sparkling drinks and fingers". She later took to Twitter to thank fans for all their well wishes, writing, "Wow, thanks everyone for all the love! I'm overwhelmed with happiness from your kind thoughts!"

    The future spouses are clearly quite a talented twosome. According to Erin's website, she's played the violin in a number of country music specials (including the 2011-2013 CMA Awards, the 2011-2013 CMA Country Christmas specials and as a violinist for Eric Church at the CMT Music Awards in 2012). She's also been featured in Sara Evans' "Slow Me Down" and Lonestar's "Maybe Someday" music videos. Her acting credits include multiple stage performances, TV commercials and also a recurring role on Nashville as a backup singer for Hayden's Juliette Barnes character.

    The groom-to-be is, of course, an accomplished singer and actor, too. You might remember him as Luke Ward on The O.C., but that's just one of the many TV and film credits he's nabbed over the past 15 years. He went from a recurring character in Nashville's first season to a series regular by the second, and in in December 2015 he released his EP, Pieces of You.

    Big congratulations to the happy pair!

    Nashville‘s “Will Lexington” Is Engaged

    (3/2/16) (Pic) A short written message and a ring and heart emoji were all fiddle player Erin Slaver had to write on Instagram. Then I knew.

    Oh, also, she’s kissing Chris Carmack in the picture, so that made it all crystal clear.

    Carmack, who plays Will Lexington on Nashville, proposed to Slaver, who had also been on the first two seasons of the show. She played one of Juliette Barnes’ background singers.

    Slayer has toured with Martina McBride and is currently in the band JD & the Straight Shot.

    10 Teases About Rayna and Deacon's Wedding (It's Almost Here!)

    (3/1/16) Allow us to echo a sentiment voiced by one of Nashville‘s key players on the eve of Rayna and Deacon’s long-awaited nuptials: “‘Bout damn time!”

    ABC has released the country-music drama’s midseason premiere — which airs Wednesday, March 16 at 10/9c and which takes place on the couple’s big day — to the media. And while it may be bad luck for a bride and groom to see each other before the ceremony, it can’t hurt to give you a glimpse of what’ll take place during the hour, right?

    The following spoilers are intentionally vague, in an effort to maintain some of the event’s surprises (and to keep the network from revoking our invitation). Think of these quick hits as the passed hors d’oeuvres course during cocktail hour: tasty, yet leaving you hungry for the main course.

    Without further ado, here comes the bride, y’all!

    * Not everyone is psyched about the upcoming union; three characters in particular strongly make their misgivings known.

    * We get an update on Juliette. (Related: You’ve all gotten the update on Hayden Panettiere, right?)

    * Avery drinks a lot of whiskey. (This one may or may not be related to the previous spoiler.)

    * Early in the episode, Deacon does something he probably shouldn’t.

    * Someone not known for being level-headed makes a really good point, but then the situation descends into histrionics.

    * Gunnar crumbles under pressure, and it’s pretty funny. (Seriously, one of Nashville‘s best decisions was to use Sam Palladio as comic relief from time to time.)

    * Someone you would expect to attend the wedding… doesn’t.

    * Context-free quote: “Are you into poetry, music or animals?”

    * Someone stress-vomits.

    * You’ll hear a beautiful new arrangement of a song you already know.

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