Nashville ABC TV Show News Archive

Nashville Premiere: Watch Juliette Implode on Stage — 2018 FIRST LOOK

(12/21/17) (Video) Nashville‘s Juliette Barnes has yelled, screamed, cussed people out and frozen up on stage. But none of that was as disturbing as when she announces, “I think I just need to stop” after grinding her comeback concert to a halt in the Season 6 premiere.

As you’ll see in this exclusive clip from the episode — which airs Thursday, Jan. 4, at 9/8c — Juliette is back to performing after her very public admission of stealing Maddie’s single. And though Deacon seems to have forgiven her, based on his appearance on the sidelines, some fans in the audience chant “thief!” and hold signs that make it very clear that they haven’t forgotten what she’s done.

Perhaps that’s the reason she stops singing and launches into some rather depressing truth-telling?

“I want people to love me, but that’s just a trap,” Juliette says dejectedly as she stares out into the audience. “Because they don’t know me. I don’t even want them to know me, because if they knew me, they wouldn’t love me. That’s the story of my whole life right there.”

Then, as Glenn, Deacon and Avery look on in varying degrees of horror, she announces, “I think I just need to stop.”

As previously reported, the sixth season of the country-music drama will introduce several new characters, including Darius, a self-help guru with a track record of transforming lives who crosses paths with Juliette. (We’re hoping that interaction happens after, and not before, the events of the sneak peek.)

Why ‘Empire’ actress went to Weinstein’s hotel room

(12/8/17) “Empire” actress Kaitlin Doubleday revealed Friday that she is one of the many women Harvey Weinstein lured up to his hotel room — and explained why she went despite hearing “whispers” about his creepy behavior.

Doubleday, 33, met Weinstein when she accompanied her sister Portia to the premiere for “Inglourious Basterds” in 2009, she wrote in a candid column for The Hollywood Reporter.

“He was charming as he complimented my sister’s work. He asked if I had seen the film, which I hadn’t, so he offered to send over a copy, which I found surprisingly thoughtful,” the actress wrote.

“His assistant got my info, and I didn’t think much of it until the next day, when Harvey left a voicemail. In his signature booming New York accent, he asked me to call him back.”

After years of trying to make it to the “big time,” Doubleday wrote, she was flattered that one of the biggest names in the business reached out to her personally.

“It was an insanely huge carrot dangling in front of me,” she continued. “I desperately wished for Harvey’s intentions to be pure. I wanted to believe he was just recognizing the talent I saw within myself.”

Doubleday’s manager warned her that she’d heard rumors that he was a sexual harasser and said that if the actress agreed to the meeting, she should do so in a public setting.

“I called him back and, shockingly, we developed a rapport,” she wrote in the column.

She said he suggested meeting up for a drink at the Montage Beverly Hills restaurant.

“OK, as long as you don’t expect me to come up to your room!” she said she responded.

They chatted about books, movies, awards and travel, then stayed in touch until another night at the Montage, when she says he asked her to meet her in his room to watch some footage because he needed advice on an ending on “Nine.”

“I didn’t want to go. I knew what he was doing. I had prepared myself for this moment, but still, I went,” she wrote. “Now the world knows what happens when Harvey Weinstein invites you to his hotel room.”

She didn’t describe in detail what happened inside the room, but compared her experience to that of Ashley Judd, who has said Weinstein greeted her wearing a bathrobe and asked if she would watch him shower and give him a massage.

Doubleday said she went up to the room because she was “desperate” and had struggled with her self-esteem.

“Harvey made me feel like he saw me for my intelligence and not for my body,” she said. “I went up to that hotel room because I’ve been groomed to by the world, by the industry and by people’s expectations that an aspiring young woman can achieve success only with the help of a powerful man.”

The disgraced movie mogul, who faces more than 80 sexual misconduct allegations dating back to the 1970s, has denied that he engaged in non-consensual sex with women.

‘Nashville’ Casts Holland’s ‘The Voice’ Judge Ilse DeLange In Recurring Role

(12/8/17) Singer-songwriter Ilse DeLange, a judge on The Voice of Holland, has been cast in a recurring role on CMT’s Nashville — as a singing competition judge.

DeLange, who started her music career with the 1998 album World of Hurt, will make her acting debut as “Ilse,” a judge on Nashville‘s singing show within the show. Like the actress, “Ilse” is a big star in her native Holland. She’ll become an ally and friend of Daphne (Maisy Stella).

The new and final season of Nashville premieres Thursday, January 4 at 9 PM on CMT. The 16-episode season will air in two parts, with the series finale airing this summer on a date TBD. The series produced by Lionsgate and Opry Entertainment is currently in production. DeLange also hosts Ilse’s Veranda on national Dutch television. She’s repped by Firefly Management BV.

Nashville Final Season Trailer: Wait, Is Juliette Barnes Joining a Cult?

(12/8/17) (Video) Maybe we’ve watched a few too many episodes of Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, but doesn’t this new trailer for Nashville‘s sixth and final season make it seem like Juliette’s heading down a very dangerous path?

In the new video, released Thursday, Ms. Barnes makes the acquaintance of Darius, a charming founder of a self-actualization movement. “Why isn’t all of this fame and success enough?” he asks her, which isn’t an outrageous question. But then Avery says, “You’re putting all of your trust in this guy. You’re living your whole life by his words,” and that’s a fair observation — made by someone we know truly wants the best for our often impulsive heroine.

In short, it seems like Ju is headed for cult membership or something equally troubling. And we’re officially worried.

Other intel gleaned from the trailer:

* Deacon has apparently given Juliette another chance after she stole Maddie’s song last season, and Ju seems appropriately grateful.

* Gunnar seems to be having a far harder time dealing with the breakup than Scarlett is.

* As teased in a previous promo, Will is the one shooting what appear to be steroids in the bathroom,

* Deacon and Jessie definitely kiss and hold hands, and it’s definitely not making Daphne happy.

* Maddie gets real cozy with pop star Jonah Ford.

* Gunnar, Will and Avery play together. Dare we hope they’re forming a new band?!

* Hey, look! It’s Hallie playing the Bluebird with Deacon! She lives!

Nashville returns on Thursday, Jan. 4, at 9/8c.

Nashville Cast Announces Farewell Tour

(12/5/17) Nashville‘s six-show farewell tour in the U.K. will launch on April 14 in Birmingham, England. Cities on the schedule include Leeds, England; Glasgow, Scotland; Manchester, England; and Cardiff, Wales. The tour wraps on April 21 at the O2 Arena in London.

The 2018 run will feature performances of live originals by Clare Bowen, Chris Carmack, Charles Esten Jonathan Jackson and Sam Palladio, as well as a mix of songs featured on the hit CMT series. The cast has previously sold-out tours in the U.K. in 2016 and 2017.

Since its debut, the show has inspired 22 soundtracks, including a Christmas album, which have collectively sold more than one million album units and over five million single-song downloads to date.

The season six premiere is set for Jan. 4 on CMT. The 16-episode season will air in two parts, with the finale airing in the summer.

Tickets for the U.K. tour go on sale Friday (Dec. 8). VIP packages are available on all dates.

Laura Benanti's Melania Trump Returns to Colbert, Plots White House Escape

(12/2/17) (Video) If you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it — unless you’re First Lady Melania Trump.

Laura Benanti reprised her role as wife to President Donald Trump on Thursday’s Late Show, calling in “via satellite” to chat with Stephen Colbert regarding rumors that she is unhappy serving as First Lady.

“Stephen, this is fake news lie. I am very happy to be First Lady. Look at me, being happy,” FLOTUS said, struggling to keep from frowning. She also insisted that her recent decorating of the White House is proof she feels right at home in Washington, D.C.

“It’s all so merry!” she exclaimed. “The stringing of the lights, the baking of the cookies, and Santa Claus, [who’s] such an inspiration to me.”

“How so?” Colbert asked.

“Well, if you can come down the chimney to go into a house, then you can go up a chimney to get out of a house,” she said, before revealing how she plans to escape from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

During the conversation, Colbert also asked Melania about POTUS’ ex-wife Ivana, who in recent interviews has been taunting FLOTUS and referring to herself as Donald’s “first lady.” Melania shrugged off Ivana’s comments, then took it upon herself to address the “real” problem, paraphrasing Michelle Obama’s famous motto in the process.

“The real issue here is bullying,” she explained. “No one should be subjected to cruel and baseless insults. That’s why when she goes low, I go, ‘Bye, bitch!'”

Nashville Final Season Video Teases Will's New Man (?), Deacon-Jessie Kiss

(12/1/17) (Video) Only a few words are spoken in this new Nashville Season 6 video, and yet it says so much.

The teaser promo, released Thursday by CMT, tees up the country-music drama’s final season with new footage — and a series of sounds — that give a glimpse into what’ll happen in upcoming episodes.

Most important things first: the kissing. Will and a new guy, Juliette and Avery, and Jessie and Deacon (almost) smooch during the 30-second spot. Then there’s the first look at new characters in action, including Jonah Ford, a charming and super successful pop star played by newcomer Nic Luken.

Elsewhere, Maddie thwarts an admirer’s attempt to get closer, Scarlett signs an Exes poster, Daphne sobs, Jessie’s stupid ex twirls his stupid fidget spinner, and Deacon restrings a guitar.

Nashville returns Thursday, Jan. 4, for its final season.

Nashville to End After Season 6

(11/17/17) (Video) A season-and-a-half after Rayna Jaymes went to her final resting place, Nashville will, too: CMT announced Friday that the upcoming sixth season will be the country-music drama’s last.

“All of us on Nashville are so incredibly grateful to the show’s fans, who convinced CMT to give us a chance to keep telling the story of these remarkable characters,” executive producer Marshall Herskovitz said via statement. “And we want to return the favor with a final season that celebrates all the joys and passions, twists and turns — and amazing music! — that made Nashville such an exciting journey for the last six years.”

The cancellation is actually the series’ second; longtime fans will recall that ABC gave the drama the ax in 2016, but CMT saved the show by offering a pickup almost a month later.

“After more than 120 episodes of unforgettable television, we believe that creatively it is time for the series to come to its triumphant close at the end of the upcoming season” Kevin Beggs, chairman of Lionsgate Television Group, said in a statement. “We’re very proud of our incredibly talented cast and crew, the creative brilliance of our showrunners, and the loyal support of our great partners at CMT, Hulu and ABC Studios. Most importantly, we owe a special debt of thanks to the Nashville fans who propelled the series to an incredible run. We owe it to them to make the sixth season the most exciting and memorable of all.”

Season 6 of Nashville will premiere on Thursday, Jan. 4. As reported earlier in November, Rachel Bilson has exited the series and will not appear in upcoming episodes.

Castle Creators Back at ABC With New, Light Detective Procedural Take Two; Rachel Bilson, Eddie Cibrian to Star

(11/16/17) The spirit of Castle will loom large on ABC next season.

On the heels of news that Nathan Fillion will return to his old Alphabet Network stomping ground as the star of the cop dramedy The Rookie, ABC has announced that it has placed a straight-to-series for a new procedural from Castle creators Terri Edda Miller and Andrew W. Marlowe. Titled Take Two, the dramedy — which Miller and Marlowe have been developing for nearly two years — stars The O.C.‘s Rachel Bilson and CSI: Miami’s Eddie Cibrian as unlikely P.I. partners.

Here’s the official, Grinder-esque logline:

Ella (Bilson), the former star of a hit cop series, is fresh out of-rehab following a bender of epic proportion. Desperate to restart her career, she talks her way into shadowing rough-and-tumble private investigator Eddie (Cibrian) as research for a potential comeback role. Though lone wolf Eddie resents the babysitting gig, high-spirited Ella proves herself to be surprisingly valuable, drawing on her acting skills and 200 episodes of playing a detective. When the press touts Ella’s role in solving a high-profile case, Eddie finds his phone ringing off the hook with new clients looking to hire the pair.

“Andrew and Terri are wonderful storytellers and this is the perfect project for their return to ABC,” said Channing Dungey, President, ABC Entertainment. “We’re excited to see Rachel and Eddie bring these characters to life.”

Bilson most recently recurred on CMT’s Nashville as a love interest for Charles Esten’s grieving widower Deacon. TVLine has confirmed that she will not be a part of the country drama’s upcoming sixth season.

Rachel Bilson Officially Exits Nashville

(11/16/17) Deacon’s first post-Rayna dalliance is over before it began.

Rachel Bilson, who joined Nashville in Season 5 as Highway 65’s chief strategy officer Alyssa, is not returning for the CMT drama’s upcoming sixth season, TVLine has confirmed. Per sources, Bilson’s Nashville‘s commitment was always intended to be for just one season. The O.C./Hart of Dixie actress will next star opposite Eddie Cibrian in ABC’s light detective procedural Take Two.

On Nashville, Bilson’s Alyssa was a Silicon Valley transplant whose ideas often clashed with Deacon’s more traditional sensibilities. Still, that didn’t stop her from planting a surprise kiss on him in the Season 5 finale — which, we now know, will function as the character’s swan song.

Nashville returns with Season 6 on Thursday, Jan. 4.

‘The X-Files’ & New Drama ‘9-1-1’ Get Premiere Dates On Fox

(11/15/17) (Video) Fox’s new procedural drama 9-1-1 will bow at 9 PM Wednesday, January 3, following the debut of the 10-episode second season of The X-Files revival. The two series take the Wednesday night slots of the on-hiatus Empire and Star.

The new series from creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Tim Minear explores the high-pressure experiences of police, paramedics and firefighters who are thrust into the most frightening, shocking and heart-stopping situations. Watch a teaser trailer above.

Said Fox, “These emergency responders must try to balance saving those who are at their most vulnerable with solving the problems in their own lives.”

The new 9-1-1 stars Angela Bassett, Peter Krause and Connie Britton, along with Oliver Stark, Aisha Hinds, Kenneth Choi, and Rockmond Dunbar. Brad Buecker directs the premiere episode and serves as an executive producer, along with Alexis Martin Woodall and series star Bassett. The X-Files, in the 8-9 PM slot, comes once again from executive producer and creator Chris Carter, with stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson returning as FBI Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. Mitch Pileggi also returns as FBI Asst. Director Walter Skinner. Along with Carter, series veteran Glen Morgan serves as an executive producer.

Guest-starring this season will be Annabeth Gish, Robbie Amell, Lauren Ambrose, Karin Konoval, Barbara Hershey, Haley Joel Osment and William B. Davis, who reprises his role as the Cigarette Smoking Man.

Airing on Mondays last year, X-Files drew an average multi-platform audience of nearly 16 million viewers and was the season’s No. 2 broadcast drama.

Empire and Star are set to return from hiatus in March.

Nashville Sets Season 6 Premiere Date

(11/14/17) CMT will put a little hot, country-music drama into your cold, post-holiday lives: Season 6 of Nashville will premiere on Thursday, Jan. 4.

The network tweeted the announcement Tuesday via a video featuring stars Jonathan Jackson and Hayden Panettiere.

(Video) We have a special announcement from @haydenpanettier and @JonathanJackson…
The new season of #NashvilleCMT premieres Thursday, January 4 on @CMT. ??
— Nashville on CMT (@NashvilleCMT) November 14, 2017

After the Season 5 finale, co-showrunner Marshall Herskovitz told TVLine that Rayna’s legacy record label Highway 65 — which suffered greatly after her demise — is down but certainly not out. “There is a chance that Highway 65 will survive, but they’re still facing the same kind of real difficulties record labels face these days.”

Earlier in November, CMT announced that several new characters played by recurring guest stars will grace the screen this season. These include Darius (played by The Affair‘s Josh Stamberg), Sean (Nashville musical contributor Jake Etheridge) and Twig (When We Rise‘s Dylan Arnold).

Nashville Adds Affair Actor, Two More For Season 6 — Watch New Promo

(11/3/17) (Video) Music City just got a little more crowded: Nashville is adding several new roles to the upcoming sixth season, TVLine has learned.

The CMT is introducing five new characters that will be played by recurring guest stars. Among them:

* Darius, played by Josh Stamberg (The Affair, Parenthood, Drop Dead Diva), the founder of a self-actualization movement that has transformed many lives,” according to the official character description. (We’re pretty sure he’s the guy talking to Juliette in the new sneak peek above. Perhaps they cross each others’ paths after her on-stage meltdown? Because if there’s someone who could use a little inner peace, it’s Ms. Barnes.)

* Sean, played by songwriter — and Nashville musical contributor — Jake Etheridge, a recent military veteran with PTSD who is on the verge of accepting that he’s a talented musician

* Alannah, played by Rainee Lyleson (Home and Away), a back-up singer who’s got real star power

* Jonah Ford, played by newcomer Nic Luken; a confident, charming and very successful pop star

* Twig, played by Dylan Arnold (When We Rise), Jonah’s best friend and entourage member who hids his inner pain with a biting sense of humor

Nashville, which is produced by Lionsgate and Opry Entertainment, is slated to return in January 2018.

9-1-1 Promo: See Connie Britton and Angela Bassett as First Responders

(10/17/17) (Video) When an emergency arises… we can’t think of anyone we’d rather have on the case than the cast of 9-1-1.

We got our first look at Ryan Murphy’s star-studded new Fox drama in a promo that aired Friday during the World Series — and which you can watch above. The story centers on first responders — police, firefighters, EMTs and 911 dispatchers — who have to keep their cool in high-stress situations, and there’s a strong dash of gallows humor here: Peter Krause stars as a firefighter who’s called in to help free a woman from a huge python that’s wrapped itself around her throat.

Connie Britton’s 911 dispatcher explains that there are two types of emergencies: the everyday kind (see: the snake incident), and “the kind that comes without warning,” where the line between life and death is razor-thin. In that category, we see Angela Bassett’s cop entering a tense situation with gun drawn, and Krause’s firefighter trying to talk a suicidal woman off the roof of a building.

9-1-1 debuts in January on Fox.

Nashville's Clare Bowen Marries Musician Brandon Robert Young

(10/24/17) (Pic1, Pic2, Pic3) Wedding bells are ringing for Nashville star Clare Bowen!

The actress and singer married her longtime boyfriend and fellow musician, Brandon Robert Young, at the Cedar Hill Refuge in Nashville, Tennessee, on Saturday, her rep confirms to PEOPLE exclusively. They were married by John Carter Cash, a dear friend of both the bride and groom.

“Sign of a real good party. Danced so much, my slipper blew a sparkly,” Bowen, 33, Tweeted Monday evening.

The Australian native donned a white gown — designed by the actress and Olia Zavozina — for her nuptials and cataloged the weekend on Instagram, snapping some sweet moments before the ceremony, including stunning sunrise views on the day she tied the knot.

“Watching the sunrise. Wearing the blanket I was wrapped in when I was born around my shoulders. Gonna go marry my soulmate now. #foreverbowenyoung,” Bowen captioned a photo shared early Saturday morning.

Young first popped the question in December 2015 onstage at The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, but their wedding plans were delayed after Bowen’s brother was diagnosed with cancer.

Speaking with Entertainment Tonight back in January about her brother’s diagnosis and her wedding plans, she said, “We got engaged and then my brother got sick, so we dropped everything. Everything stopped and we went to Australia to help him. Now, Tim is in remission [and] we’re just able to start planning, and it’s going like wildfire Bowen admitted that she never thought of herself as the marrying type — until she met Young.

“I had never wanted to get married before Brandon, which I kind of love,” Bowen told ET. “We’re picking flowers and I’m designing dresses. … It’s so beautiful. It’s so much fun. I had no idea because I didn’t have any dreams about it before him.”

Nashville Video: Juliette's On-Stage Tirade Tees Up Season 6 Premiere

(10/20/17) (Video) When we checked in with Nashville‘s Juliette Barnes at the end of Season 5, she was in a very low place but seemed to be regrouping, reflecting and rebuilding herself as a better person.

Then again, that was a few months ago.

And when the CMT series returns for Season 6 in January, it appears that Ju’s regained her signature spunk… as well as the inability to pass up an opportunity to speak her mind.

“I don’t want your money, I don’t want your attention,” Juliette angrily tells a crowd of concertgoers in the just-released promo above, “and I sure as hell don’t want your love.” (She appears contrite and teary later in the spot, so maybe we’ve got another public apology situation on our hands? How many is that now?)

Ms. Barnes’ outburst isn’t the only noteworthy aspect of the 30-second video. We also get Deacon and Jessie having a possibly flirty phone call (probably with each other), Will giving a stirring speech about art and risk, and Gunnar as a bottle blonde (!).

Movie Night With Karlie Kloss

(10/17/17) Movie Night With Karlie Kloss, a six-part series of short-form interviews and games, will premiere Thursday, Dec. 28 at 6:30 pm on Freeform. Guests include tennis champ Serena Williams, actresses Rachel Bilson (Nashville) and Victoria Justice (Victorious) and supermodel Kendall Jenner, among others.

SMILF: Connie Britton Is Frankie Shaw's Self-Declared Bestie in Showtime's Single-Mom Comedy — Watch Trailer

(10/13/17) (Video) After watching this first full trailer for Showtime’s SMILF, we kind of can’t blame Connie Britton’s Ally for wanting to be BFFs with Frankie Shaw’s Bridgette: From the looks of tthings, Bridgette is a rather awesome hot mess.

The roughly two-minute spot, released Thursday, introduces single mother Bridgette, a young single mom in South Boston whose work includes tutoring kids (and getting high with some of them?). Nashville alum Britton recurs as the mother of one of those children, and part of the trailer involves Ally decreeing to Bridgette, “You’re my best friend… y’know, for a tutor.”

We also meet Bridgette’s mom, played by Rosie O’Donnell, as well as Bridgette’s baby daddy Rafi (The Strain‘s Miguel Gomez), who encourages her to go out and meet guys while he watches their son, Larry. (If the trailer is any indication, Bridgette’s got to give her dating skills a quick polish before she puts them back to use for real.)

Shaw writes, directs, produces and stars in the new comedy, which is based on her Sundance Film Festival Jury Award-winning short of the same name.

Charles Esten Brings Country Back to Vegas

(10/11/17) ( On the final night of the Route 91 Harvest music festival, thousands of fans had flocked to see their favorite country singers. And now, one week after the tragic shooting, country stars are flocking to the fans in Las Vegas.

On Tuesday (Oct. 10), singer-singwriter Charles Esten (known to some as Deacon Claybourne, the star of CMT’s Nashville), the Railers and Filmore visited the patients, their families and the caregivers who have been working around the clock at two local hospitals: Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center and University Medical Center of Southern Nevada. Michael Ray and Brandon Ray, who both played at the Route 91 Harvest festival, will be making additional Musicians on Call visits on Wednesday (Oct. 11).

The bedside performances are a special effort put together by Musicians On Call, CMT, the Country Music Association and Southwest Airlines to help country artists bring a little joy and distraction to the people of Las Vegas, just when they need it most.

Musicians On Call is a nonprofit organization that brings live and recorded music to the bedside of patients in healthcare facilities, and they recognize that during a tragedy like this one, the caregivers also need the kind of healing that music can provide. You can see that healing start when hospital staffers watch the Railers turn their hallway performance of the 1987 Nitty Gritty Dirt Band hit “Fishin’ in the Dark” into a spirited mini-concert.

And having Esten there left Kelly Teale Morrell, one of the RNs taking care of the patients, a little star struck. She tweeted that meeting Esten, AKA Deacon Claybourne, was a great way to start a Tuesday.

Fox Buys Hawaii-Set Family Soap From ‘Nashville’ Duo & Jake Kasdan As Put Pilot

(10/11/17) Fox has given a put pilot commitment to a primetime soap from former Nashville executive producers Meredith Lavender & Marcie Ulin.

Written by the duo, the untitled project centers on a couple. After twenty years of marriage, they try to reignite their passion and strengthen their family by starting over in paradise on earth: Hawaii. They move their two teenage kids to the island of tourist fantasies, but the reality of paradise is not all sun, surf, and sex on the beach — dark family secrets, a complicated social structure they don’t understand, old mistakes, and messy new relationships threaten to tear the Campbell family apart, even as they struggle to find their way back to each other.

Lavender and Ulin executive produce alongside Jake Kasdan and his producing partner Melvin Mar. 20th Century Fox TV, where Lavender & Ulin as well as Kasdan are under overall deals, is the studio.

Last season, Lavender & Ulin sold two projects with major commitment, including a drama series adaptation of Ben Percy’s novel Red Moon, which was set at Fox as put pilot. Lavender and Ulin worked on the soapy country music drama Nashville for its entire four-season run on ABC, rising to executive producers. They are repped by CAA and attorney Todd Rubenstein.

Kasdan and Mar also executive produce the buzzy Danny Zucker/Trevor Engelson comedy at Fox, which has a put pilot commitment, and comedy Not Ready, also at Fox, from Niki Schwartz-Wright and Fred Savage, which has a script commitment plus penalty. Kasdan is repped by WME and Sloss Eckhouse. Mar also repped at WME.

‘Find The Good’ Family Drama Based On Books Set At NBC With Tony Goldwyn & Richard LaGravanese Producing

(10/4/17) NBC has put in development Find The Good, a family drama project penned by Nashville writer-producer Geoffrey Nauffts based on memoirs by best-selling author Heather Lende. It comes from Wonderthink, a production company launched recently by Scandal star Tony Goldwyn, writer-director Richard LaGravanese and veteran TV executive/producer Cheryl Bloch. FremantleMedia North America is the studio.

Find the Good is based on Lende’s 2014 memoir Find the Good: Unexpected Life Lessons from a Small-Town Obituary Writer and her earlier memoir, If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name, which were acquired by FMNA in July. a family drama about an obit writer and mother of four living in small-town Alaska, and how writing about death each week teaches her how to live.

Wonderthink’s Bloch, LaGravanese and Goldwyn executive produce along with Nauffts, Lende, FremantleMedia’s Christian Vesper, and Hypomania Content’s Brian Pines.

Goldwyn and LaGravanese previously teamed to create and executive produce drama The Divide, which became WEtv’s first original scripted series. At the network, it was shepherded by Bloch, WEtv’s first scripted executive, which led to the trio launching a company together, Wonderthink is repped by CAA, which also reps Nauffts.

Connie Britton to Star in Fox's 9-1-1 Drama Series From Ryan Murphy

(10/4/17) There’s a new sense of urgency surroundingFox’s forthcoming 9-1-1 procedural, and here’s why: Connie Britton has joined the cast!

TVLine has learned the Friday Night Lights and Nashville vet has signed on to star opposite Angela Bassett and Peter Krause in the Ryan Murphy-produced emergency responder-themed drama, which explores the high-pressure experiences of police, paramedics and firefighters who are thrust into the most frightening, shocking and heart-stopping situations.

The gig reunites Britton and Murphy; the duo worked together on American Horror Story (Season 1 ) and The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story.

Britton, who recently landed an arc on Showtime’s upcoming comedy SMILF, is coming off of a five-season stint on the ABC/CMT drama Nashville.

‘Life Sentence’: Riley Smith Set To Recur On the CW Dramedy

(9/14/17) Riley Smith is reuniting with the CW and Warner Bros. TV for Life Sentence. The former Frequency star is set for a major recurring role opposite Lucy Hale in the CW’s upcoming dramedy from WBTV and Bill Lawrence’s studio-based Doozer Prods.

Life Sentence centers on Stella (Hale), a young woman diagnosed with terminal cancer. When she finds out that she’s not dying after all, she has to learn to live with the choices she made when she decided to “live like she was dying. Smith will play Dr. Will Grant, a rough-around-the-edges oncologist with a secret soft spot for his patients. When Stella (Hale) finds herself working closely with him, there is an undeniable chemistry between her and the good doctor, which poses a threat to her relationship with Wes (Elliot Knight) a man she married on a romantic whim when she thought she was terminally ill. Smith, who starred as Frank Sullivan on the CW’s Frequency last season, also is known for his work on HBO’s True Detective and the last season of True Blood. After playing Markus King on Nashville, Riley released his self-titled debut country EP in July. His first single “I’m On Fire,” is currently charting on top Country Music sites, and the debut music video is in rotation on CMT and He’s repped by Gersh and Sanders Armstrong Caserta Management.

Whose Line Is It Anyway?

(8/24/17) Whose Line Is It Anyway? - CW 9pm – August 24

Nashville‘s Charles Esten, a fixture of Whose Line‘s Drew Carey era, returns to the stage alongside Ryan, Colin, Wayne and guest comedian Jeff Davis.

Connie Britton Joins Showtime's SMILF

(8/14/17) Nearly six months after her Nashville swan song aired, Connie Britton has booked a recurring role on the new Showtime comedy SMILF.

Written, directed, produced and starring Frankie Shaw (aka Elliot’s Season 1 Mr. Robot romantic interest) — and based on Shaw’s Sundance Film Festival Jury Award-winning short film of the same name – SMILF promises a raw and honest comedic look at Bridgette, a single twentysomething from Southie whose desires for relationships, sex, and a career collide with the realities of young, single motherhood.

Per, Britton will have an arc as Ally, Bridgette’s boss who struggles with boundaries.

The Strain‘s Miguel Gomez has boarded the comedy as a series regular, playing Rafi, a recovering addict who endeavors to be a good ex-boyfriend to Bridgette and father to their 2-year old son. Rosie O’Donnell co-stars on SMILF as Tutu, Bridgette’s prideful Southie mother who lives by her own set of rules.

In addition to her run as Rayna James, Britton’s TV credits include American Horror Story, Friday Night Lights, 24 and the sitcom Spin City.

SMILF premieres Sunday, Nov. 5 at 10/9c.

Nashville Sets Season 6 Premiere

(8/10/17) (Video) New year, new Nashville.

The country-music drama will return for Season 6 in January 2018, CMT announced Thursday after the Season 5 finale.

But given the events of the Season 5 finale, will there even be a Highway 65 record company when Juliette, Deacon & Co. are once more on our screens? “There is a chance that Highway 65 will survive,” showrunner Marshall Herskovitz told TVLine in a finale post mortem Thursday, “but they’re still facing the same kind of real difficulties record labels face these days.”

‘Nashville’ Creator Callie Khouri Headed To New Music Town

(8/10/17) ‘Nashville’ creator Callie Khouri is heading to a new music city – Miami – for her next project.

Speaking on the CMT #Nashchat online show on Facebook, Khouri said she was “working on a show that takes place in Miami.” She denied that it was the remake of ‘Miami Vice’ that’s been announced. “This is more of a song and dance show,” she said, but declined to name who the star of it may be.

She did describe that star as “J-lo-ish,” but added that it was not actress/singer Jennifer Lopez. Expect the show to keep up a strong music presence, though. “I want to make sure there’s always a lot of music,” said Khouri, who is married to music producer T Bone Burnett. “The performance days on ‘Nashville’ are always the best days.”

#Nashchat was broadcast live with a studio audience at the Hard Rock in Nashville. The guests following the season five finale included series actor Chris Carmack, executive music producer Tim Lauer, and singer/songwriters Sarah Siskind, Marylynne Stella, Phillip LaRue, Charlie Worsham and Savannah Keyes.

Khouri also indicated she’s open to doing “a lot more pop stuff” in season six of ‘Nashville.’

“It’s more about we want to get the music that we like in,” said Khouri. “We’re just kind of trying to please ourselves first. If we’re not entertained, then it’s not likely anybody else is.

‘Nashville’ Finale: EP Marshall Herskovitz On Tonight’s Twists, Season 6 & That Kiss

(8/10/17) ( SPOILER ALERT: This story includes details about the Season 5 finale of Nashville.

Nashville wrapped its fifth season — and first on CMT — tonight with a finale in which the battle for the future of Highway 65 came to a head with Zach effectively shutting it down by draining the label’s bank accounts. Deacon, whose angry outbursts had cost him dearly in the past, was the picture of calm in his face-off with the arrogant tech wiz Zach and talked some sense into him about staying at the label as a partner.

Finally finding out about the Juliette-Maddie song theft-gate, Deacon confronted Juliette. Feeling remorseful, she pushed Zach’s buttons with a threatened expose to help him come around on Highway 65 and withdrew her American Music Awards nomination, publicly admitting that she’d swiped Maddie’s song.

On the romantic front, the on-again-off-again couple of Gunnar and Scarlett got on the outs again, Avery resisted temptation on the road to return home to Juliette, Will chose his friends over Zach, Deacon and Jessie had a moment but did not act on it while a kiss came out of nowhere, with Alyssa planting one on Deacon in her final scene.

In an interview with Deadline, Nashville co-showrunner Marshall Herskovitz talks about the kiss, the future of Highway 65 and a Deacon and Jessie relationship and gives a status report on two Nashville couples Scarlett and Gunnar, and Will and Zach. He also teases new Season 6 cast additions and drops more clues what else to expect next year.

DEADLINE: Lets start with the last line in the finale. What did Maddie mean by “I’m free”?

HERSKOVITZ: I think it’s summing up the journey she’s made the entire year — the horrible experience of the death of her mother, the pressure on her when she put out the hit song and found out that Juliette had stolen a song written for her. She is nominated for an American Music Award and loses. In some way she feels good about it, in some way, it would’ve been too much too soon. She came out content, I’m free, my life is just beginning, I can do whatever I want.

DEADLINE: Has Highway 65 been saved?

HERSKOVITZ: I don’t want to say about the future but we certainly wanted to resolve this particular problem. It was a real breakthrough for Deacon to rise to the occasion and not get angry when this arrogant young man gets abusive and is screaming at him. Deacon finds the strength and looks and realizes what’s going on. He has grown to a point where he can take a seat, stay calm and see through the screams. That saves the day and for the moment, the crisis has been averted.

DEADLINE: Let’s talk about that kiss between Alyssa and Deacon? Where did that come from, and is Rachel Bilson’s stint on the show over?

HERSKOVITZ: This story arc has ended though we would love for her to come back. I like that scene. I though that was a collaborative moment, Rachel had input in that; it grew very originally from the storyline.

DEADLINE: Really? I did not see it coming.

HERSKOVITZ: She told the truth that it wasn’t really sexual. She sees how tormented this guy is, and she is feeling for him.

DEADLINE: Has Juliette’s redeemed herself by withdrawing her AMA nomination and helping save Highway 65?

HERSKOVITZ: I think she is one of these people who carries around her worst problems and she never lets go. As she says in the finale, “maybe there is darkness in me.” For her to find strength to own up to what she has done shows that she possess the ability to grow but can’t change who she is, a very troubled person.

DEADLINE: Let’s talk about the scene between Gunnar and Scarlett, in which she never turns back when leaving the house. Are then done as a couple for now?

HERSKOVITZ:I think it’s been clear that we were watching an ending. It will be interesting to explore two people who have been so incredibly attached to each other, to see how they chart their separate courses in life.

DEADLINE: What about Will and Zach. Is their relationship over?

HERSKOVITZ: I don’t want to say that it’s over as sometimes in love what you say in a moment doesn’t hold true the next day. But their relationship must change in result of what happened.

DEADLINE: Meanwhile, Deacon and Jessie almost kissed but didn’t. Was that in response to fans who thought it was too soon for Deacon to be dating. Is romance still in the cards for these two?

HERSKOVITZ: Jess will be back, I wouldn’t say more. I don’t think Deacon knows what to do. Such a thing can never be easy for a man, who had dedicated so much of his life to Rayna and their relationship. Moving forward will never be linear and simple. How he moves on with life will be part of what we explore next year.

DEADLINE: What else can we expect in Season 6?

HERSKOVITZ: We will introduce two important new characters that we are excited about. And Jessie’s ex, played by Jeff Nordling, will be back as well. He did a great job doing that part. We are going to see some shaping up in careers of various people on the show. Will, Avery, Gunnar and Scarlett will make very interesting career turns.

Nashville Finale: EP Talks Avery/Juliette Reunion (and Rings!), H65's Chances

(8/10/17) ( The record label Rayna Jaymes worked so hard to build may be in shambles, and if it does survive, it’ll do so without one of its marquee players. Still, Nashville showrunner Marshall Herskovitz says, we should consider the Season 5 finale a win… for Juliette, if no one else.

Even though Ms. Barnes spends the end of the hour wondering if she’s irrevocably messed-up, “She also does this remarkable thing to redeem herself,” the EP tells TVLine. He’s referring to Juliette’s pulling herself out of the running for an American Music Award and outing herself — via morally questionable journalist Mackenzie Rhodes — as having stolen Maddie’s song, while simultaneously using the power of the press to shame Zach into (probably) sticking with Highway 65.

“If you look at her across the season, she survives a plane crash. She heals herself. She finds God. She has failure in her career. She goes through so many difficult things in this year and finds the strength in the end not just to do the right thing but at great, great cost to her career,” Herskovitz adds. “To me, it shows growth in her character, no matter how miserable she might feel about it. She manages to do something really selfless at that moment. That’s what I love about her.”

In a moment, we’ll hear more of Herskovitz’s thoughts on the season-ender. But first, here’s a quick rundown of the crucial highlights:

* Zach plays hardball by emptying Highway 65’s bank accounts and turning off its electricity, forcing the company to set up a makeshift office at the studio. Kacey Musgraves comes by to hang out. It would seem like a party, except for Deacon’s fuming all over the place. When he finally figures out what’s going on in Zach’s head, he gently confronts the tech whiz, whom he’s realized hasn’t left “because you love it here and you don’t want it to end.” Deacon pitches a true partnership, where they make decisions together, but it’s unclear what the label’s future will be.

* When Deacon finds out what went down between Juliette and Maddie, he angrily informs Juliette that she’s no longer a Highway 65 artist. Maddie later loses the AMA to Katy Perry, but happily tells her dad that she feels “free.”

* Scarlett and Gunnar break up again. I did not think that was possible after they’d already broken up three times in the past two episodes, but maybe this one will stick?

* Upon learning about what Juliette did to make things right with Maddie, Avery drives home to Nashville in a terrible storm to hug his woman. She says she loves him, and it’s clear they missed each other a lot.

* Will and Zach break up.

* Alyssa kisses Deacon outside The Bluebird, shocking him. She later explains that she felt like he “needed” it. (Hear what star Charles Esten had to say about that scene here.)

* Deacon and Jessie hug at one point, and it seems like they both acknowledge for a moment that there might be something brewing between them. Daphne is still wary of the new woman in her father’s life, but she seems to be becoming friends with Jessie and Brad’s son, Jake.

Read on for Herskovitz’s answers to a few of our burning questions from “Reasons to Quit.”

TVLINE | Deacon and Jessie have a lovely friendship building in the back half of this season. Were you tempted to speed it up or slow it down even more?

I would say there was more conversation and even disagreement about the speed and nature of that relationship than anything we dealt with all year. And that was not just among the writers, but among the actors, as well. The idea of Deacon moving on was so triggering to so many people. Should he? If he did, what would it look like? How long would it take? That sort of thing. Frankly, we were never clear, in our own minds, what this relationship was. It’s not like we had a master plan.

I have to say this is closer to the kind of work that Ed [Zwick, co-showrunner] and I have done in all our other series that in some way, over time, was improvisational… in the sense of, well, what’s going to happen between these people? We don’t know. Let’s see what it feels like. We felt that [series creator] Callie Khouri summed it up the best one day when she said, “These are two people both of whom are carrying around such pain themselves that there’s just no way for them to be in a relationship right now.” Once she said that, it clarified for us what we were doing. And then there’s what happens when you cast the right person and what happens between two people. [Charles] Esten and Kaitlin Doubleday just knew how to play off each other. It was just some fortuitous workings out of circumstance that helped that relationship grow.

TVLINE | Is there a chance Highway 65 will survive into the next season?

Yes. There is a chance that Highway 65 will survive but they’re still facing the same kind of real difficulties record labels face these days. Like Zach says, this is not a charity. It still needs to somehow figure out how to make money. So put it this way: They survived this season. Whether they make it to next season is still an open question.

TVLINE | Are Juliette and Avery married? Divorced? What’s their status right now?

[Laughs] They are actually divorced and not yet remarried. They have decided to start wearing their rings again, which, by the way, perturbed many fans. Like, “Wait a minute, did we miss something?” This is something that the actors felt they wanted to do and I said fine. I didn’t realize it would cause a Twitter firestorm. But they are technically no longer married, even though obviously still very close and in love and very deeply connected to each other.

Nashville Finale: Charles Esten, EP Weigh In On That Surprising Kiss

(8/10/17) ( Deacon might’ve been taken mightily aback by the moment in Nashville‘s Season 5 finale when Alyssa kisses him on the lips outside The Bluebird, but co-showrunner Marshall Herskovitz saw it coming from the moment the bespectacled strategy guru first walked into Highway 65.

“It was our plan to do that scene all along. From the moment we introduced Alyssa, one of the things we said was that she was going to kiss Deacon,” the executive producer tells TVLine. “But what we had in mind for that kiss was very different from what you saw.”

He explains that, in the original concept, Alyssa came on a lot stronger, and that the smooch was her way of making Deacon acknowledge the sexual tension that had been building between them during the season. “It was Rachel [Bilson] herself who said, ‘We haven’t played that. That’s not the relationship that has happened between us.’ And we realized she was totally correct.”

Instead, “We wrote to the Alyssa that emerged, as opposed to the Alyssa we thought she was going to be,” he says. “And that has a lot to do with who Rachel Bilson is and how she comes off on screen.”

Even on the day of shooting, star Charles Esten recalls, the liplock wasn’t an absolute sure thing. “We shot it both ways,” he says — with and without the kiss — “and they were just going to wait and see if it worked or not.”

Herskovitz says he’s satisfied with the finished product. “It was a combination of [co-executive producer] Liberty [Godshall] and [series creator] Callie [Khouri] came up with that wonderful line— I really don’t remember [who] it was — where she said, ‘I just see people’s pain too much. It’s just exhausting.’ It was so beautiful,” he says. “It makes you just love her. This wasn’t coming onto him, this was actually feeling for him and who Alyssa was with Rachel playing her.”

The finale marked the end of Bilson’s guest-starring arc; Herskovitz declined to comment on whether Alyssa will be around when Nashville returns. Meanwhile, the season-ender made a point of showing Deacon and Jessie lingering over a slightly-more-than-friendly embrace, possibly paving the way for the widower to find love in Season 6. (Read our finale breakdown with Herskovitz for more on finding the right pacing in the Deacon-Jessie story.)

“Kaitlin [Doubleday] is fantastic, and I’ve really enjoyed these scenes,” Esten says. “She was playing what I was playing: Two broken people that just happen to be around these other people that artistically they click with, and that they understand and feel for.

“And also, I like where it ends up, which is: Who the heck knows where it ends up?” he adds, laughing.

'Nashville’ Finale Preview: The Battle For Highway 65, Unexpected Kiss & Goodbye

(8/10/17) (Video) Last spring’s shocking death of Rayna James reverberated throughout the second half of Nashville‘s fifth season. But as Rayna’s extended family were coming to grips with her passing, they also went on with their lives. Season 5B followed Rayna’s grief-stricken husband Deacon as he tried to steer her label Highway 65, butting heads with brash Silicon Valley investor Zach and a new executive, Alyssa, played by Rachel Bilson, who pushes a branding agenda. There was more drama between the perennial on-again-off-again couple of Gunnar and Scarlett, and between Maddie and Juliette over the song the latter stole. Here is Nashville co-showrunner Marshall Herskovitz with a preview of what to expect in the finale, along with an exclusive clip below, airing tonight.

“All conflicts will be addressed in the season finale,” Herskovitz said. “There will be some resolution in some conflicts.”

And on the romance front, “two characters share an unexpected kiss and a goodbye.”

As for the branding plotline, which culminated with Maddie’s refusal to change the lyrics of her song for a mascara commercial, driving a wedge between Zach and Alyssa on one side, and Deacon and the artists on the other, “it comes to a very interesting and dramatic conclusion in the final episode,” Herskovitz said. “I think it’s somewhat unexpected.”

Two more clues about the big battle for Highway 65. “There’s an emotional face-off between Deacon and Zach,” Herskovitz said. “There is a wonderful sense of family — and when I say the word family I don’t mean just the immediate family of Deacon and the girls, I mean all of these characters who are at Highway 65 — there are circumstances in the finale that cause them to come together as a family that I think are very moving and powerful.”

Also among the conflicts tackled in the finale, Deacon confronts Juliette about stealing Maddie’s song to surprising consequences, and Will and Zach’s relationship comes to a head (you can watch the exclusive clip above). In addition, Scarlett and Gunner once again reach crossroads.

And then there is the budding relationship between Deacon and Jessie.

“Jessie Caine is a powerful dilemma for Deacon because at once, she is a very attractive person, and I mean pretty and a lovely, generous, kind person, but also has her own pain and her own reason why she can’t be in a relationship right now.”

Jessie has been met with mixed reaction by Nashville fans who do not think Deacon is ready to date so soon after Rayna’s death.

“It was meant to be respectful to that because the man has lost the love of his life, he’s not going to just jump into another relationship,” Herskovitz said. “I think there is a question that goes into the finale, what is this relationship, does it have a future or not.”

The finale also features Grammy-winning country star and Nashville fan Kacey Musgraves. The digital after show, NashChat, will have Nashville creator Callie Khouri as a guest, with Chris Carmack, who plays Will Lexington, set to perform.

Nashville EP, Star Dish Maddie/Juliette Feud in Season 5 Finale — Plus: Watch Deacon Angrily Confront Zach

(8/10/17) (Video) Keep this in mind while watching the exclusive Nashville finale sneak peek above: Showrunner Marshall Herskovitz says the confrontation between Deacon and Zach over the fate of Highway 65 is just as painful for the tech wunderkind as it is for Rayna’s widower. (Though we’re pretty sure we know with which one you’re likely to side.)

“Even though [Zach] is in the position of being the bad guy right now, it’s not a position he at all relishes,” Herskovitz tells TVLine in advance of the season ender, which airs tonight at 9/8c on CMT. But that’s little comfort to Deacon, who has to decide how best to carry on Rayna’s dream in the absence of petty cash, electricity, payroll etc. after the zillionaire begins to pull out of the business.

At the end of the clip, Zach points out that Deacon didn’t seem to care before Maddie was directly affected by the record label’s new push for brand partnerships — a story decision Herskovitz says “had a kind of dramatic unity about it.”

He explains that Maddie’s growth over the past season, particularly since her mother’s death, has opened her up and made her “more generous and more aware of the people around her.”

He adds: “Who better to take this position that some might consider to be selfish?… She is finally 17 years old and she is passionate about her music the way her mother was.”

That passion extends to her feud with Juliette, a matter in which star Charles Esten says Deacon has been hesitant to intervene. “I see a lot of her mother in her, and when her mother was that age, she was living these things. She didn’t have Lamar stepping in,” he reasons. “Although the caretaker that Deacon is, he just wants to get in and fix everything.”

But in the finale, as the American Music Awards — for which both Juliette and Maddie are nominated — approach, “Saying that there will be some Deacon involvement in that situation is putting it a little lightly, OK?” he previews, laughing.

Nashville Recap: Hashtag Stressed

(8/4/17) ( Are you there, Luke Wheeler? It’s me, a troubled Nashville enthusiast.

Before you say anything, yes. I was one of the people routinely calling you out as a ridiculous corporate whore who’d slap his name on anything for the right price. Yes, I often mocked you for talking about your “brand” and “Luke Wheeler Worldwide” (whatever that was) and all of that ridiculousness.

But now I see the terrible truth of it all: You above anyone else in Music City could’ve helped avert the crisis that arises in this week’s episode, an hour that finds Maddie balking against a sponsor’s demands that she change her song in order to achieve corporate synergy, or some other buzzword that doesn’t mean anything but gets thrown around boardrooms.

Anyway, my point is: You would’ve HAPPILY handed over creative rights to your songs in order to hawk vacuum cleaners or acne gel (“Luke Wheeler’s Wheelin’ Dealin’ Dryin’ Ointment!”) or God knows what. And if by some machinations you’d been a Highway 65 artist by now, you could’ve helped save Rayna’s beloved label.

Instead, Maddie raises a fuss, Deacon backs her up (don’t worry, I’ll take everyone to task about this later in the recap), and pretty soon the whole thing turns into a folie a deux that has all of the H65 artists voting for Zach to take his money elsewhere — even though it means the probable end of the record company.

Anyway, Luke, can’t we just let bygones be bygones? Call me, cool? And in the meantime, let’s review the highlights of “Farther On.”

A RETURN TO FORM (AGAIN) | Maddie is jazzed to be the face of Mascara 24… until she has to actually be the face of Mascara 24. She complains about the wardrobe fittings and hair/makeup tests, then has more than her share of diva moments on set once filming begins. Sure, the director is stereotypically over the top, and I’m sure that having water rained down on you for hours at a time isn’t the most fun a person can have, but COME. ON. After such a successful U-turn in the character earlier this season, it’s really disappointing to see her bratty side return in full force. It’s even more disappointing that we’re supposed to feel bad for her, and that’s before the corporate ridiculousness starts in full force.

The Mascara 24 CEO is hell bent on getting Maddie to change some of the lyrics in her song so that she literally sings the name of the brand during the commercial. On the one hand, I get it: The request is lame, it’s silly and it makes absolutely no sense. One the other hand, it is not the kind of request that should cause a person to have a “total meltdown” (Zach’s words, not mine) and to leave the set for the day. The news sends Deacon running home from a rehearsal for his Grand Ole Opry performance.

“It’s my daughter,” Deke apologetically tells his backup band, and they fully understand, but I’m pretty sure they’re finishing that sentence with “she’s been in a car accident” or “she’s missing” or “she’s ill” and not “the water was a little chilly at her huge cash-grab commercial shoot and she’s being rather precious about the words to her song.”

Anyway, Deacon is FAR more understanding than I am, and though he approaches Mads about going along with what the makeup CEO wants, he ultimately backs up her refusal to comply with the company’s ask. But when Deke breaks the news to Zach and Alyssa, a furious Zach points out that the contract Deacon signed allows Mascara 24 to demand whatever lyric/music/whatever changes it wants. Oops.

Zach, frustrated to what seems like the point of tears, says that if Deacon can’t get Maddie in line, “I am done.” He’s ready to exercise that clause he and Rayna agreed to; once he officially gives his notice, he’ll be gone in 90 days. “And at the end of that 90 days,” he adds sadly, “Highway 65 will be out of money.”

LADIES LOVE COOL AVERY | Let’s take a break from the angst by joining Avery and Gunnar on tour. They’re having a great time — despite Avery having to field typically irate calls from Juliette every now and then — and hanging out a lot with a backstage worker (tour manager?) named Molly. Molly is the epitome of the cool rocker girl: She’s breezy and pretty, she drinks with the boys and flirts up a storm, particularly with Avery. She also doesn’t think much of Juliette’s dependence on her man, and makes it clear that if Avery ever wants to forget about his familial duties, she’s ready and willing. (Or, at least, I think that’s what she says to him in their last scene together. I was completely distracted by the sheerness of her shirt. Is it incredibly cold on that tour bus?)

Speaking of boobs, perhaps my favorite moment in the entire hour is when Gunnar excitedly signs a fan’s chest outside a venue, and then he and Avery exchange wordless looks that made me laugh out loud. Take that, surly Grandma! And my second favorite moment is when Juliette and Avery share a very sweet, loving, longing-filled call near the end of the hour.

DONE DEAL | Back in Music City, Deacon calls a meeting of the Highway 65 artists: Will, Scarlett, Maddie and Gunnar (via FaceTime). (Deke explains that he’ll talk to Juliette and Hallie later.) He explains Maddie’s situation and what will happen if she doesn’t acquiesce to the lyrics change, then announces “Now is the time we have to figure out what we believe” and what they’re willing to sacrifice in the name of artistic integrity.

Maddie, who seems to have realized exactly what a crapstorm she’s kicked up, quickly says that she’ll just do what Mascara 24 wants, but Deacon says she doesn’t have to. “I agree,” Scarlett quickly pipes up, and OF COURSE YOU DO, SCARLETT. Gunnar is also of the mind that Maddie shouldn’t have to go along with Zach’s plan. I hold out hope that Will will be the voice of reason, but nope: He’s on board, too, and agrees that he’ll go along with whatever decision Deacon makes.

You’re telling me that not one of those singer/songwriters had a self-interest-related thought about the label going under for such a comparatively small reason? OH WAIT, WE HAVEN’T HEARD FROM JULIETTE. “What, we’re all supposed to suffer because Maddie won’t budge on a few lyrics?” she asks incredulously. THAT’S MY GIRL.

Deacon is a tired, stressed, confused mess by the time Jessie shows up at Highway 65 and orders him to get into her car. Perhaps recalling their discussion in the last episode about how being outdoors helps him clear his head, she drives him to a state park and forces him to take an hour by himself in nature. He’s angry at first but eventually simmers down and is able to relax, confiding in her that he’s just trying to do right by Rayna’s dream.

Anyway, he eventually gives an angry Zach the news that Highway 65 is done with branding in all its forms, and that if that means he’s going to take his money and run, so be it. Then, Deacon plays the Opry for the first time as a lead artist — though he’s performed there hundreds of times with Rayna as part of her band — and sings the song he wrote for their concept album way back at the beginning of the season.

Deke has a great set, and the crowd is enthusiastically on its feet by the time he leaves the stage. Zach, who’s standing in the wings with Alyssa, notices. And when Deacon comes off and hugs his daughters, then moves on to hug a proud Jessie, Daphne notices that with no small amount of displeasure.

OH, AND ALSO… | Because there’s no good place to put this, but it needs to be discussed, what did we think of Alyssa’s karaoke performance? There have been more elegant ways to have actors-who-sing-yet-are-in-non-singing-roles do their thing, but Rachel Bilson’s got a lovely little voice, no?

Nashville Sneak Peek: Is the End of Rayna's Beloved Highway 65 at Hand?

(8/2/17) (Video) It took Nashville‘s Rayna Jaymes years to build her dream record label, Highway 65… and, from the look of this exclusive sneak peek at Thursday’s episode (CMT, 9/8c), just a few months (and some bad decisions) to drive it nearly all the way into the ground.

Maddie and Deacon are quite somber in the clip from “Farther On,” and though we’re not 100 percent sure what’s happened earlier in the episode, it’s clear that H65’s troubles have only gotten worse since last week. It sounds like that’s because of something Maddie did, which, OF COURSE. But the ever-reassuring Deke promises his daughter that she won’t be the formerly bratty straw that breaks the label’s back: “If this happens, it will not be your fault.

Elsewhere in the episode, per the official synopsis: “Juliette shoots a mascara commercial, but takes issue with the direction. Deacon gets invited to play the Opry, but hesitates. Avery and Gunnar embrace life on the road.”

Scandal Adds Homeland, Nashville Actors in Season 7 Mystery Roles

(8/1/17) Gladiators, who’s ready to start cranking out some theories about Scandal‘s final season?

Though no further details — including character names — are available at this time, Shaun Toub (Homeland) and Jay Hernandez (Nashville) will recur in the ABC drama’s upcoming seventh season, TVLine has learned.

Little is known about Scandal‘s final outing, but with the OPA gang back together on set — and we’ve got the Instagram posts to prove it — the good stuff is finally starting to leak out.

Scandal‘s 18-episode final season premieres Thursday, Oct. 5 on ABC.

The Detour Promotes Laura Benanti to Series Regular Ahead of Season 3

(7/31/17) Apparently, mail fraud is a bigger problem on The Detour than we’d been led to believe, because Edie’s sticking around: Laura Benanti has been upped to series regular status on the TBS comedy.

The Tony winner/Supergirl alum guest-starred in Season 2 as a United States Postal Service inspector who took her job very, very seriously and who crossed paths with Nate (played by Jason Jones) and Robin (Natalie Zea).

When The Detour was renewed for a third season in April, TBS exec Thom Hinkle put out a statement promising that — based on what he’d heard from executive producers Jones and Samantha Bee, “Season 3 is going to be even more effed up” than the previous two.

Benanti played Supergirl‘s Aulra Zor-El until recently, when work commitments in New York (the superhero show shoots in Vancouver) meant she had her to leave the role. (Smallville grad Erica Durance will take over the part.) Benanti’s long list of TV credits includes Nashville, Go On, The Good Wife, Law & Order: SVU, Royal Pains and The Playboy Club. In addition, she’s shown up a few times on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, performing her (pretty wicked) Melania Trump impression.

Nashville Recap: You Can Go Home Again, But You Probably Shouldn't

(7/28/17) ( If you’d have told me a year-and-a-half ago that I’d be asking for more Maddie in my Nashville, I’d have told you to go shove your head in a Tupperware full of pink macaroni. And yet, as this week’s Gunnar-centric episode unspools, I find myself constantly wondering, “Yes, but what is going on with the Maddie-Juliette beef?” So here we are.

The hour spends a bunch of time with Gunnar in his old hometown, revisiting his childhood, which was even sadder than we’d been led to believe. Still, there’s only so much broody Gunnar a girl can take before she wants to move on. (Amirite, Scarlett? Too soon?) And I really, really want to know where the show is going to take the controversy brewing between Divas Barnes and Jaymes.

Alas, I don’t get my wish fulfilled during this week’s hour — though, with the American Music Awards on their way, there’s gotta be more bitchy goodness in the hopper, right? Read on for the highlights of “Speed Trap Town.”

OLD STOMPING-ON-YOUR-DREAMS GROUNDS | When Avery’s tour goes near Gunnar’s hometown of Aurora, Texas, he decides to visit his grandmother. The old woman is taciturn and rather ornery, insisting on smoking a cigarette in her nursing home room (while hooked up to oxygen!) because “I’m passing real soon.” Gunnar is a little unsettled by the interaction, and his kinda awkward conversation with Scarlett afterward doesn’t do much to make him feel better. But then he runs into Kelly, a girl he knew growing up, and she’s just flirty enough to get him to change his mind about leaving town that night.

So the pair wind up drinking near their old school, and from their talk, we understand that Kelly was popular and Gunnar was a loner who thought Kelly was “the prettiest girl in Aurora,” though he never acted on his feelings for her. When she avoids his question about what she’s doing these days, I write in my notes, “MARRIED.”

Gunny’s time in Aurora continues to trigger not-so-great memories of his life there, including his parents’ deaths and his cold, strict upbringing in his grandmother’s home. The flashbacks hit Gunnar hard, and by the time Kelly shows up to his room the next evening, he’s on the verge of tears. “It’s not like she hit me or anything,” he says sheepishly, but Kelly gets it: “Just because nobody hit you doesn’t mean you don’t have scars.” Then she kisses him, but he pulls away, and it’s just as well, because she’s (wait for it) married! “I’m not the answer to anybody’s problems,” she explains. “I’m just a girl with my own.

The next morning, Gunnar stops by his grandmother’s place to prove that he’s a good musician/a worthwhile human by playing her a song about burying fears and following your heart. Then he leaves town the same way he did everything while he was there: sadly.

HE’S NOT ME | Deacon likes a song Jessie wrote, but when he tries to help her get some studio time to lay it down, she keeps pushing him away. What’s really irking her: Her schmuck of an ex-husband is messing with her plans to go away for the weekend with their son, and then he shows up to needle her about how he’s the only one planning for the boy’s future. Jessie takes out her frustration on Deacon, who’s rather gracious when she realizes what she’s doing and apologizes.

Deacon adds that he’s fallen down so many times in his life, and he’s only gotten up again because kind people helped him out, and he got a little swept up in being on the other side of the equation for once. “That’s just really sweet,” Jessie says, and if she wasn’t smitten before, I’d say she’s in deep smit now.

NOMINEE DRAMA | Maddie gets nominated for an American Music Award in the “Favorite song pop/rock” category; her competition includes Katy Perry and Juliette. While Mads celebrates, Ju stews: She is bugged by the fact that things still aren’t OK between them. So she sends out a congratulatory tweet, and if you forgot your sunblock today, don’t worry: The amount of shade in Maddie’s reply should cover us all. “Thanks, @juliettebarnes. I wrote it myself,” she tweets. Meow!

Juliette sees the reply as a “screw you,” but Glenn suggests that maybe Maddie is protecting Juliette by not going public about the song-stealing. Still, at a press conference for the nominees, Maddie gives Ju the cold shoulder (while, coincidentally, wearing a cold shoulder top). Is it on? Because it feels like it’s ON. (And praise Reba for that!)

KICK ‘EM WHERE IT COUNTS | Still shaky following the robbery and her miscarriage, Scarlett moves in with Deacon and the girls for a little while until she feels safer on the whole. On Maddie’s suggestion, she also signs up for a self-defense class. The teacher sounds like he’s straight outta Ivan Drago’s corner in Rocky IV, and Scarlett doesn’t like it when he challenges her. But later she gets all empowered and whales on the instructor like she’s Rocky in Rocky IV, but because she’s Scarlett, she has to have a lot of feeeeeelings about it after. But she doesn’t wind up crying in a ball on the floor, so I’m putting this one in the win column.

Episode 886: Nerdist Podcast - Connie Britton

(7/24/17) (Listen) Connie Britton joins Chris on AMC’s Talking with Chris Hardwick for the extended talk about Friday Night Lights, her new movie Beatriz at Dinner and more!

Nashville Recap: The Exes Factor

(7/21/17) ( The thing that many of us thought might happen to Scarlett and Gunnar after last week’s Nashville actually does happen in this week’s Nashville, and it’s heartbreaking. If you read these recaps with any regularity, you know that I’m far more likely to make a hemp-choker joke about Scarlett than to sympathize with her flights of emotional fancy. After all, how many public crying fits can a grown woman have before people stop taking her seriously? Yet when Deacon’s niece suffers a miscarriage in “You Can’t Lose Me,” you’d have to be a Jeff Fordham-level jackass not to feel some sadness on her behalf.

The breakup with Gunnar that follows? Eh, I’ve been more broken up about losing a sock at the laundromat.

Elsewhere, Maddie finds out that Juliette stole her song, and there are some Smash-level hysterics that follow. Read on for the episode’s highlights.

ADDING INJURY TO INSULT | The morning after their robbery, a bruised Gunnar goes to the police station to look at mugshots in the hopes that he’ll be able to identify their attacker. He’s unsuccessful. Scarlett rests at home, where she starts having pain and then sees that she’s bled through her pajama pants. (Side note: Is it just me, or does Scar look way more pregnant in this episode than she did in the last?) She calls Deacon, who arrives to find her frantically scrubbing the pants in the sink. When she nearly passes out, he picks her up and brings her to the hospital.

Scarlett Googles “bleeding during pregnancy” while they wait to see a doctor, and she’s just convinced herself that everything is going to be fine… when an ultrasound shows that the baby’s heart has stopped. Comprehension sinks in, Scarlett starts making high pitched sounds of grief and Deacon is barely holding it together. It’s rough.

Later, Gunnar storms into the hospital — he’s clearly already gotten the news — and is bereft as he stands by Scarlett’s bedside. The doctor says that the fall Scarlett took during the mugging didn’t cause her to miscarry, but that does nothing to help anything. Still, I’m glad the show made a point of saying it. Television dramas love using a minor knock or bump to explain away the end of a pregnancy. Nashville also chooses to point out another physically and emotionally painful aspect that TV often glosses over: Sometimes, women have to go through labor and delivery of the dead child before it’s finally over. And that’s what happens to Scarlett, who starts having contractions and kicks Gunnar out of her room, tearfully demanding that she’s going to do it on her own.

AN ODD, KIND GESTURE | Deacon calls Jessie to apologize for not calling an agent on her behalf like he’d promised her earlier, then winds up telling her about Scarlett. She’s very sympathetic — to the point that she puts together a miscarriage gift bag (I’m not kidding) for Scarlett and plans to leave it on her porch… but gets caught when Scar sees her. “Deacon told you?” Scarlett says, and I can’t fault her for the edge in her voice. But when Jessie says that she’s had two miscarriages and just wanted to help by providing a few things to ease the pain (special tea, iron tablets, a Ghostbusters DVD), Scar softens and invites her in.

The two women are sharing stories and crying a little (“I never even got to tell her her name,” Scarlett says quietly, adding that all she has of the baby is the blanket the nurses wrapped her in “because I asked to see her”) when Deke shows up. He thinks Jessie crossed a line by going to Scarlett’s place, and I don’t disagree, especially because he told her that no one was supposed to know about the baby. What, was Scarlett supposed find the bag of stuff at her front door and think the miscarriage fairy left it there? But when Jessie tells him about her experience with losing pregnancies, he is chagrined.

WE WEREN’T ON A BREAK? | At home, Gunnar drinks and broods and vents to Will that he should’ve done more to protect Scarlett during the attack. “I saw that movie, too. I don’t think it works that way in the real world,” Will says kindly, but Gunnar wants no sympathy. He stalks off to the bathroom, where he runs the shower but, sadly, does not strip and enter it. Inwardly, I worry — remember the last time Gunny eschewed personal grooming in favor of indulging his demons? It was when his criminal brother Jason was around, and it did not end well. In short: Bad things happen when Gunnar doesn’t wash his hair.

And yep, pretty soon a greasy, overtired Gunnar is prowling the streets in his car, creeping up on teenage boys, trying to find the one who pulled a gun on him. He eventually does, chasing the kid down and punching him, then getting freaked by his own violence. The kid runs off.

Gunnar is a mess when Scarlett shows up at his place later. There’s crying and self-flagellating, and they eventually come to the conclusion that they should take some time to think things through. Readers, I ask you: WHAT WERE THEY DOING BEFORE? Anyway, Avery calls to check in and invites his friend to join him on tour. Realizing that there’s nothing tethering him to Music City anymore, Gunnar accepts.

THE TRUTH WILL OUT | At Zach’s insistence, Juliette performs her new, highly successful single “Water Rising” as a duet at Maddie’s concert. But at a party the next evening, Ju nearly hurts herself trying to keep distance between Mads and Travis, the songwriter who thinks that the teen passed up his tune. It all erupts when Maddie and Travis run into each other in the lobby and he casually mentions how he’d like to work with her in the future, and how it’s totally cool that she didn’t want to record his song. Cue apoplectic adolescent in 3… 2…

Maddie runs back into the party and tosses a martini in Juliette’s face, right there in front of everyone. Oh, Eileen Rand would be so proud! Ju quickly tries to hush her and move the conversation elsewhere, but Maddie isn’t having it. “There’s nothing to talk about, liar!” she spits, taking off.

The next morning, a contrite Juliette shows up at the Jaymes-Claybourne residence, but has to make her case to Daphne, because Maddie won’t come to the door. Ju says there’s no excuse for her behavior, which is a little weaksauce IMO, but Daphne reports to her sister that “She seems like she really means it.” When Deacon asks questions, Mads replies that she wants to handle things on her own.

KEEP, KEEP, KEEP ME CLOSE | At the end of the hour, Scarlett plays that women’s clinic benefit she’d talked about with Alyssa last week, performing a sweet, lullaby-like ballad after announcing to the crowd that she’d miscarried. In the audience, Jessie tells Deacon she’s not going to sign with Highway 65 regardless of whether he wants her as an artist or not, because she wants to maintain some professional boundaries. I’m not really sure what she means by that, but whatever. She also meets Daphne and Maddie, and everyone instantly gets along.

Oh, and in a montage, we see Gunnar sadly drive out of town as Scarlett puts the baby blanket and booties in a decorative box bearing her daughter’s name: Amelia Rose.

A Singular Feat: Charles Esten Releases a Single a Week – For an Entire Year!

(7/20/17) Is it even possible for one artist to release an original single every week for an entire year? Charles Esten sure didn’t think so – that is, until he did it.

Back in July 2016, when he announced, via Facebook, that he was planning to release a single a week, “I was thinking I might make 22 songs, which would be [the equivalent of] two albums,” says the 51-year-old actor who plays the smoldering and all-suffering singer/songwriter Deacon Claybourne on CMT’s Nashville.

But Esten, a real-life singer/songwriter long before acting took over, was still rolling out singles six months into the project – and as he refreshed his song supply with new material, it dawned on him that he could do what no artist had ever done before.

Of course, it isn’t like anyone has ever tried.

When he undertook what he has dubbed #EverySingleFriday, Esten grasped that his TV fame had put him in a unique position: a sizable fan base following his career, a library of music he’d amassed through years of writing and co-writing, and none of the constraints that would have been placed on him by record companies (that, granted, are far more preoccupied with younger artists).

“I wanted to get my music out, so it suddenly occurred to me – put your music out,” he tells PEOPLE. “Don’t wait for somebody. Don’t wait for permission.”

How he’d get it out soon fell into place. Based in Nashville, Esten recorded most of the songs at the home studio of a frequent musical collaborator, and he had access to the city’s immense stable of studio musicians. Apple Music gave the singles a public space (where they can be found at And his wife, Patty, with years of organizational experience as Kevin Costner’s former assistant, rode herd on scheduling and other details.

Still, Esten had to cram the project into an already busy life – that was only getting busier. Just in recent months, Esten unexpectedly lost his TV wife, Rayna James, when Connie Britton departed the show, leaving him with an increased “emotional load” – not to mention an extra on-set workload. He also took on playing “Carl Sr.” in a series of Carl’s Jr. commercials, and in June, he shouldered hosting duties for the CMT Music Awards.

Through all the competing priorities, he says, the songs never became “the side thing” in his life. “And if I’m going to be honest,” he adds, “there were many times [in the studio] … where I’d look at my watch and go, ‘Aw, jeez, I gotta go to work’ – like I was heading toward some coal mine! So I think that might speak to the place [the project] has in my heart and my life.”

Esten’s output is an astonishing array of musical styles, sounds and themes, all with a country vibe. Songs range from heartbreaking (“Dancing All Around It”) to frivolous (“I Love You, Beer”), from soulful (“Everything to Me”) to rockabilly (“I Love You (But I Don’t Like You)”), and from naughty (“A Lotta Shouldn’t Oughta”) to faith-filled (“Come to the Table”).

And yeah, there’s some Deacon thrown in, too. “Absolutely,” says Esten, a solid family man with none of his alter-ego’s demons. “It sure doesn’t hurt to walk in the boots of a guy who goes through everything Deacon goes through … He is a country song.”

Esten’s 52nd song, “Long Haul,” dropped on July 7, and he celebrated his feat with a free concert on Wednesday in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s CMA Theater in Nashville. Just for good measure, he released No. 53, “I’m Coming Home,” on Friday, and he plans to cap the project with 54 this week.

After that, he hopes to build listenership on streaming services (one single, “Through the Blue,” already has 5.5 million Spotify streams), the occasional live performance and perhaps some music videos and a compilation album.

In the meantime, the project has allowed Esten to fully embrace his identity as a singer/songwriter.

“Acting had the strong hand for so long,” he says. “EverySingleFriday is just putting things things back in balance to say that I’m both.”

Code Black Adds Nashville and Scream Actors, Subtracts Melanie Chandra

(7/19/17) Code Black is getting an infusion of fresh blood as it prepares to weather another cast departure.

TVLine has learned exclusively that series regular Melanie Chandra, who has played lesbian resident Malaya Pineda since the CBS drama’s first season, will not be returning for Season 3.

Helping to fill the void will be Tyler Perez (Scream), who is set to recur as Diego, a rich and privileged charmster who has been handed everything in his life — including his first year residency at Angels Memorial. The hospital is even allowing him to make a documentary film of his experiences in the hospital.

Additionally, Nashville alum Chaley Rose will guest star in the Season 3 premiere as Pepper, a new resident who’s smart enough to get into the Angels residency program, but possibly not fully equipped for the intensity of the busiest ER in the nation. Terrified of making a mistake, she makes many and has much to learn. In fact, her first mistake is on her very first day and very nearly kills her.

The duo join previously announced Code Black newbie Moon Bloodgood (Falling Skies), who will recur as Rox, a brassy and competitive paramedic who thinks fast on her feet and doesn’t scare easily. Heroic and full of command, she finds a new challenge in her ride-along partner, Dr. Willis (Rob Lowe).

Nashville Recap: Under the Gun

(7/13/17) ( I worried that Scarlett and Gunnar’s neverending “what are we to each other?” conversation might be the death of me, but I never considered that it might be the death of them.

Yet in this week’s Nashville, the couple’s insistence on hanging their emotional laundry in public nearly does them in, when pausing to fight in a grocery-store parking lot leads to their becoming victims of armed robbery and assault.

It’s a jarring incident in an episode otherwise filled with great, subtle character work, and it feels a little Season 2ish, especially in this new, less-soapy, Season 5 world. But you can judge for yourself as we recap the highlights of “The Night Before (Life Goes On).”

A COAT MAKES FOR COMPLICATIONS | We get an update on Liv: FosterMore, the charity that Rayna worked with before she died, is helping Daphne’s homeless friend by placing her somewhere that’s good for her. (We don’t actually see Liv in the episode, which makes me wonder if maybe that arc is wrapped for good?) We know all of this because Deacon is playing a benefit for FosterMore, and as the director gives him the update on Liv, she also reminds him that he promised to donate one of Rayna’s outfits to the event’s auction.

Maddie and Daphne are not OK with this… until they realize he’s planning to part with a blazer covered in sequined sunflowers, which is truly not cute. (What? No one ever said anything about speaking ill of the dead’s taste in show clothes.) Then he goes into Highway 65, where we get the episode’s far-and-away best scene.

Avery stops by before heading out on tour, and as Avery marvels about Cadence and how she’s growing, Deacon gets a little teary. He confesses he’s having a hard time with the auction, and how he’s symbolically giving away a piece of Rayna, but Avery gently reminds him that “it’s just stuff, right? The life that you shared, the music that you wrote together, that’s eternal. Nobody can take that away.” That makes Deacon cry a little more, then they hug and Deke smiles at Rayna’s photo as Avery makes his exit. Sounds cheesy, right? SO WHY AM I UNDONE? (Answer: The exchange is totally believable — I credit Jonathan Jackson and Charles Esten for that — and a really great moment for those two characters.)

ALONE TOGETHER | On the night of the benefit, Deacon and Jessie are seated at the same table — she’s performing, too — and I loved the nod to Deke’s dog, Sue, when he was talking to another attendee. Jessie’s ex, Brad, is there, too. He’s a total jerky douche, and Deacon sees the douchery and says nothing about the douchery

When the bidding on Rayna’s jacket starts, Deacon can’t handle everyone’s jovial nature. Meanwhile, I can’t handle that that sartorial eyesore is going for upwards of $40,000; I don’t care how good of a cause it’s supporting. He goes outside to be alone and Jessie soon follows — though he assumes she’s there to make him feel better, she’s actually there to kick a few garbage cans in her frustration over Brad and his bullying of their son.

“I would never presume to know your pain, because I’ve never had a love like that,” Jessie tells Deacon. “But I’m watching someone I love die in slow motion, and I would do anything for that boy.” Her pain pulls Deke out of his own for a minute; as he’s pulled back in to play his set, he bucks her up just a little: “I think you’re tough. I think you’re gonna prevail.”

After a quick conversation with his band, Deacon decides to switch plans. “This is for Rayna,” he announces before performing Waylon Jennings’ melancholy “Dreaming My Dreams With You.” It’s beautiful.

ABSENCE MAKES THE HEART… | On tour, a flirty hotel bartender named Nell goes after Avery — hard — but even when he’s drunk after a great set, our boy wants nothing more than to chat with Juliette. She’s had a hard day; post-accident Juliette doesn’t quite have the moves of pre-accident Juliette, a lesson her tour’s choreographer helps her learn after a fall during rehearsal.

Avery says he’s realized that he likes the new version of himself, “the one that has you and Cadence in his life,” better than the old version. But she lovingly forbids him to come home, because he needs to get his touring itch scratched so he won’t resent her. Probably true, given the way things were going a few episodes back, right?

MIDDLE SCHOOL DRAMA | Flynn asks Daphne to go to a friend’s party, but when they get there, it’s actually an intmate makeout-and-underage-drinking session for a few couples… and them. Neither Flynn nor Daphne drink or hook up, but they bond while chatting out on the swingset, and it’s sweet. Afterward, when she’s processing with Maddie, Daphne says she kinda wanted to kiss Flynn but also kinda didn’t. Her older sister assures her that she’ll know when it’s the right time.

CRYING, SPILLED MILK | Alyssa has hooked The Exes up with a commercial for Birch Tree Habitat, an Ikea-like furniture company that is looking to update its image. The very annoying ad guy who pitches them the project notes that the store’s customer base is more than 50 percent millennials, “and they get that life is complicated.” Oh, dude, I already hate you. Neither Scarlett nor Gunnar seems super into the project, but Gunnar comes around a little and Scar grudgingly agrees to participate.

Still, on the day of the shoot, she’s grumbling and kvetching even before she learns that the table they’d agreed to assemble in the spot has been switched to a crib. But filming goes on according to plan… until Scarlett starts crying and halts everything, saying, “I can’t do this!” In case you’re keeping score at home, that’s three times (that I can remember, at least) in which Scar has agreed to something, then had a huge emotional breakdown in the middle of it. (Hiding under the piano on stage was the first, freaking out during the music video was the second.) “My baby’s not even born yet, and we’re already pimping her out for some Instagram followers,” she sobs to Gunnar, and I think I’m supposed to have sympathy for her here, but… nope. She agreed to do a job, for which she’s getting paid, and she’s an adult, so she should please just do it and stop wasting everyone’s time, cool?

On the way home, Scarlett and Gunnar stop for groceries and wind up fighting in the store’s parking lot. He claims to know why she was crying. “You don’t want to have this baby with me. You don’t want me, period,” Gunnar says, and she tells him that’s not the case, but they’re interrupted by some teens who want him to buy them booze. When he refuses, things escalate quickly, and pretty soon one kid has pulled a gun and is taking both Gunnar and Scarlett’s wallets. He also pushes Scarlett to the ground amid the milk she accidentally spilled, and he holds the muzzle to Gunnar’s forehead in a very menacing fashion. But in the end the youths just run off, leaving The Exes to cry and hold each other as the scene goes to black.


(7/13/17) (Friday, October 20, 9 pm-12 am ET) Two feuding clerks in a 1930s Budapest parfumerie unwittingly find solace in each other as anonymous romantic pen pals—not realizing their respective correspondents are in fact each other. Laura Benanti, Zachary Levi, Jane Krakowski and Gavin Creel star.

‘Boy Band’ Producer Matador Content Inks Multi-Year Deal With R.J. Cutler’s Little Creatures

(7/10/17) Matador Content, the producers behind shows such as Spike’s Lip Sync Battle, HBO’s Banksy Does New York and ABC singing competition Boy Band, has signed a multi-year production and development deal with Little Creatures, the production company founded by R.J. Cutler and Jane Cha.

Under the pact, Cutler and Cha will develop and produce nonfiction projects including docuseries, reality and competition shows, among others, for broadcast, cable and streaming platforms under the Matador banner.

Cutler is the Oscar-nominated and Emmy- and Peabody-winning filmmaker, documentarian and TV producer behind such projects as The War Room, American High and The September Request. Cha, a Peabody-winning and multi-Emmy-nominated producer, has been an executive producer on Project Runway and several of its spinoffs since their inception.

Cutler founded and ran production company Actual Reality Pictures before focusing on his narrative work and feature documentaries. Recent projects include the drama series Nashville, the feature If I Stay and the documentaries The World According to Dick Cheney and Listen to Me Marlon. He is at work on a feature documentary about legendary comic actor John Belushi for Showtime.

In addition to Boy Band, Matador has the upcoming spinoff Lip Sync Battle Shorties for Nickelodeon as well as two series, Fight World and Who Was, for Netflix.

The deal was brokered by CAA and Jeanne Newman, where both Matador and Little Creatures are repped.

Nashville Recap: It Gets Bitter

(7/7/17) ( Underneath the rhinestones and cowboy hats and (in Scarlett’s case) layers upon layers of consignment-shop knitwear, we’re all just scared kids.

That’s the takeaway of this week’s Nashville, in which Scarlett plunges herself headfirst into the plight of the modern bullied teen. Spoiler alert: It hurts.

Also painful? Deacon’s life, which has started to normalize after Rayna’s abrupt death but which still makes him cry on the regular. Unfortunately for Deke, rugged man tears might as well be calorie-free rosé, so eagerly do Music City’s unattached females lap them up. “You’re out of some novel or something,” Alyssa notes, and now all I can picture is a denim-clad Deacon standing on the cover of a Harlequin paperback, one boot up on the fender of a car or something, staring into the middle distance. Thing is, I can’t settle on a title. Cowboy, Take Me Away? The Claybourne Chronicles Book 1: Denim and Desire? I’m sure you all have far better ideas than I do, so feel free to shout ’em out in the comments.

Where were we? Oh yes: Read on for the highlights of “Ghost in This House.”

APOLOGY TOUR | Scarlett meets with Alyssa for a little image-rehab strategy session in light of her damaging interview with that witchy reporter, whose name is Mackenzie Rhodes. Scar mentions doing a benefit for one of her favorite causes, a women’s health clinic that provides free services, and Alyssa is on board. But she also thinks they can also do something a little more immediate to win back fans who are irked that Scarlett is carrying Damien’s kid.

So The Exes throw a secret concert for a small group of their fans. Afterward, Scarlett runs into Nadine, a teen she remembers from another event. “I signed your cast,” Scar says. But the girl is mad at her. “You’re a cheater, and you ruined everything,” Nadine says, really upset that Scarlett and Gunnar aren’t going to have a daughter they name Rayna and there’s something about a dog? and it quickly becomes clear that Nadine lives in her head a little too much. It ends badly.

This propels Scar into Mackenzie’s office, where she outright blames the reporter for outing her as a flawed, non-perfect person to her fans, which has therefore ruined their lives. Um, what? Look, I don’t like this Mackenzie person any more than you do, Scarlett, but I have to say, I agree with her when she’s like, “Stuff happens.” (OK, maybe you didn’t need the bitchy eyeroll to go with it, Mac.)

DOUBLING DOWN | Scarlett is so bothered by everything that’s going on, she finds Nadine via social media and meets with her so they can smooth things out. The teen sadly admits that if pretty, talented people like Scarlett and Gunnar can’t have perfect lives, what hope is there for kids like her? Later, when Gunnar tells Scarlett to take a step back, she responds, “I don’t think you know what it’s like, bein’ a girl.” On the contrary, honey: Those mood swings? That devotion to hair product? I defy you to name one Nashville dude who is more of a woman than Gunnar. He mumbles something about how boys get bullied, too, but Scarlett is already in the throes of forming her Big Idea.

She invites a bunch of her former fans — and Mackenzie — to a sit-down where they can talk about their feelings. It turns into a group therapy session in which the kids (and Scarlett and Gunnar) open up about how terribly other people have treated them and how it made them feel ashamed. And of course Mackenzie has a sad backstory about how other kids made her life hell when she spent a year in a body brace at age 14. She apologizes to Scarlett, then spins on her heel and leaves. (Side note: Anyone else think it was a little weird that she made that confession in front of all of those emotionally raw kids and then just ghosted?)

MEET ZACH’S EX | Will shoots his Budweiser commercial in New York, and it’s a success. But along the way, he runs into Jakob Fine — remember him? the fashion designer who wanted to, um, know to which side Will dresses, if you get my drift? — who insinuates that Zach isn’t quite the loyal puppy dog he pretends to be. And when Will finds a secret phone in his boyfriend’s bag, just as a cute guy named Jeff happens to be calling, he’s ticked off.

“Jeff is a guy who loves me!” Zach cries when pressed, explaining that they used to be together and that Jeff is “fragile,” which is why the zillionaire hasn’t fully pulled the plug and told him to stop calling. “The person I love is you,” Zach says to Will, and goes as far as calling Jeff and breaking up with him — on speaker! — while Will listens, which leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. “That was horrible,” Will says when it’s all over. “One day, you’re gonna do that to me.” Ouch. And, maybe, true.

TAG! YOUR TURN | Avery is no longer working with Hallie, and Juliette innocently asks if the change was because of her offering her thoughts on the matter. “You didn’t voice your opinion, you went insane,” he corrects her, adding, “I made that decision because things can only go one way with you: your way.” And later, when he’s had some time to think, he informs her that he’s going on a seven-week tour with his band because she’s completely healed and everything is fine and DADDY NEEDS NICE THINGS, TOO. She cries, then does that Juliette 180 she always does where she pretends that she’s 100 percent fine and never needed Avery in the first place.

CROSSED SIGNALS | A simpering, distant acquaintance of Deacon’s accosts him with faux sympathy — and more than a little romantic interest — when he and the girls go out to dinner at Biscuit Love. (Side note: Would Biscuit Love be a good name for our Deacon-quin romance? Discuss.) Maddie and Daphne tease him that the interloper is “another woman interested in Dad,” but he laughs it off.

Later, at Zach’s insistence, Deacon meets with Jessie Caine — remember her? From the songwriters’ circle at The Bluebird a few weeks back? — to see if she might make a good Highway 65 artist. Deke is uninterested at first, but as they share their stories, the time just flies by. In a nutshell: Jessie stayed married too long to her bully of an ex-husband, who was awful to their son and who eventually married Jessie’s former assistant and best friend.

And then Deacon is talking about Rayna, and crying a little about Rayna, and the matter-of-fact way that both characters handle his unexpected tears (“It still happens sometimes”) is one of the more realistic touches I’ve seen on this show. Nicely done. Anyway, the meeting ends abruptly when he realizes he’s got to pick up one of the girls, so Jessie says she’ll send him her music, and he leaves.

There is zero hubba-hubba going on between them — as it should be! Rayna’s been dead for five minutes! — but when Alyssa asks Deacon to meet her later, she puts it into his head that Ms. Caine’s got a crush on him. It’s understandable, she adds: “You’re out of some novel or something: a handsome widower still married to his grief.” True, but I’m too busy being astounded by how H65’s super-savvy wunderkind hasn’t done even the cursory research that would tell her that Deacon is a recovering alcoholic. She orders him a martini, and he’s gracious about it, but if you’re trying to prove how you’ve got a handle on things, mama, this is not the way to go.

FAILURE TO LAUNCH | With Alyssa’s words in mind, and after Jessie calls to invite him to her show at Mercy Lounge, Deacon phones Jessie to make absolutely clear that he’s not looking for anything… and she’s insulted that he thought that her interest in him was anything other than professional. “I’m not looking for a relationship, at all, with anyone,” she huffs.

Perhaps because he feels badly, or maybe just to hear Jessie’s new stuff, Deacon winds up at Mercy Lounge for her set. She’s in the middle of a sad (and rather good) tune that talks about how she’s “still learning to lose you,” and it strikes a chord in Deacon, who gets a little teary again and leaves.

Nashville Recap: Bundle of Oy

(6/30/17) ( Two kinda unbelievable things happen in this week’s Nashville, and I’m still scratching my head over which is the more egregious.

One is that Juliette loses her damn mind in the time it would take an egg to go from over easy to over medium. And this is no “I’m flawed but lovable” stuff. We’re talking real, possible mental issues that are of a scarier flavor than her usual neuroses and jealousies

The other is that there are Scarlett and Gunnar cosplayers? I shouldn’t be surprised — honestly, at last year’s San Diego Comic-Con, I saw someone cosplaying as Kikkoman soy sauce — but… really?

While I’m pulling my grandma sweaters and pixie wig out of storage, let’s recap what happens in “Not Ready to Make Nice.”

SCARLETT: 0 SLEAZY JOURNOS: 2 | Scarlett and Gunnar are getting gas when he tosses out the idea of just getting in the car and driving far away. She points out that she tried that once, but he stopped her — nice callback, Nashville — but he won’t let the notion go. “No more tours, no more cameras,” he muses, and I understand that the 3.5 minutes of fame you’ve had must be incredibly taxing, Gunny, but good God, you’re no Johnny Cash. Simmer, please. They’re interrupted by Access Hollywood‘s Natalie Morales — who, in this episode, is given the unenviable role of gossip pariah — when she pops up on the gas pump’s screen and starts squawking about an exclusive paparazzi photo in which Scarlett’s baby bump is on prominent display.

I call shenanigans — Access Hollywood would not give two hoots about these two! — but both of The Exes look pained, nevertheless. And it only gets worse when they get gently mobbed (cuddlemobbed?) by some overenthusiastic, well-wishing fans at a store. “What in the sam hill is a ‘shipper, anyway?” Gunnar asks later, when they’re at home and trawling the Internet. Oh Gunny, PULL UP A CHAIR AND PREPARE TO TAKE NOTES. The entire online community suddenly seems obsessed with the pair’s relationship and the (incorrect) idea that Scarlett is carrying Gunnar’s kid. She’s sad, but he encourages her to ignore all of it and focus on the good stuff.

But then Scar accidentally overshares with a journalist during a lunch interview, and the reporter — who claims she also hooked up with Damien — infers that Scarlett’s baby isn’t Gunnar’s. Scarlett freaks and runs out, the woman publishes the story (“Trouble in Scunnarville” is the hilarious headline), and pretty soon Scarlett is crying to Deacon about the whole thing. Oh, and she found out she’s having a girl.

“I need to be the mother she deserves to have, and I don’t think I am,” Scarlett sniffles to her uncle. (This was one of two places Nashville hit me with the sneak emotional attack this week. I’ll alert you to the other when we get there.) A happily tearful Deke assures her that she’ll do great. “Just love her. The rest will follow,” he says, all the while admitting that “My ineptitude as a parent has been made painfully clear.”

TEARS AND A TRUCE | And why might Deacon say that? Because Maddie finds out that Liv (and, kinda, Daphne) made the GIF of her on the night of the arrest, which causes her to angrily order Liv out of the house, which starts World War XIV between the sisters. There are two excellent aspects to this storyline: 1) Deacon’s evident frustration and fish-outta-water-ness when it comes to trying to bring about emotional equilibrium for two grieving adolescent girls, and 2) the scene where Maddie and Daphne apologize to each other and admit that they’re lost without Rayna around. “I just miss mom. Every day, every hour, I just want mom. And she’s not here,” Maddie says, crying. “I need you to help me figure things out, because I’m so confused.” Daphne hugs her, sobbing as she says, “I need you, too. I thought you were already gone.” Nice work here from both of the Stellas. (In case you were wondering, this was the ep’s second scene that nearly did me in.)

Deacon is pleasantly surprised when he comes home to find that the siblings are getting along again. Then they eat Chinese food and record a song together, as you do.

WARPED VIEW | I saved Juliette for last because I am still so baffled by what is happening in her storyline, and I thought maybe getting the rest of the recap out of the way first would clear my mind. Um, nope: What in the world is that girl thinking? First, she tries to railroad Hallie into releasing a single that, while a great song, is super poppy and not at all the roots music that reeled Deacon and Avery in last week at The Bluebird. Deacon says as much during a meeting, and when Avery backs him up (instead of an indignant Juliette), it seems to set more bad stuff in motion.

Pretty soon, Juliette is looking askance at every friendly interaction between Hallie (who’s been dumped by George, the Married Loser ™) and Avery. She catalogues every casual touch and knowing laugh. She watches All About Eve. And when she can’t contain the crazy anymore, she lashes out at Hallie just after the newbie artist records a different, more authentic-sounding demo at the studio.

“You’re not fooling anyone with your little Miss Innocent routine,” the blonde sneers. Avery is horrified as an angry Hallie leaves. “I’m literally worried about you at this moment,” he tells his wife. Dude, get in line.

Does Juliette actually believe that Hallie is an opportunistic famewhore who used Ju’s plane crash to her advantage? And if so, why did all of this manifest in this episode? I’m so confused.

Frank Tanki Named CMT General Manager In Addition To His TV Land GM Role

(6/30/17) Four months after Frank Tanki was named General Manager of TV Land, he also is being appointed GM of sibling CMT. The news follows the departure earlier today of longtime CMT president Brian Philips, who stepped down after 16 years at the helm of the Viacom network.

Tanki will oversee day-to-day operations at CMT including Programming, Marketing & Creative and Communications, and will work with CMT’s development team. Working from both the New York and Nashville offices, he will continue to report to Kevin Kay, President of Spike (soon to be Paramount Network), TV Land and CMT.

The dual role for Tanki as GM of TV Land and CMT is indicative of the process of closer integration among Viacom networks in the realignment launched by new company CEO Bob Bakish earlier this year. In February, TV Land and CMT were moved from the Kids & Family Group to the Global Entertainment Group under Kay’s oversight.

Tanki’s appointment as GM of TV Land and CMT follows the promotion of TV Land President of Development and Production Keith Cox to President of Development and Production for Paramount Network and TV Land. Further expanding the integration of the three networks, CMT’s top programming executive, EVP Development and Production Jayson Dinsmore, now will report to Cox.

While both TV Land and CMT had been headed by president-level executives, now the two reinforcing Viacom brands, grouped with flagship Paramount Network, have Tanki as GM focused on the channels’ day-to-day operations, while programming, development and production for the three nets has been centralized under Cox. The goal of the restructuring is to leverage the reach of the brands, which target different audiences.

The rest of CMT’s executive team including Suzanne Norman (SVP Programming & Operations), Anthony Barton (SVP Consumer Marketing and Creative), Kurt Patat (SVP Corporate Communications) and Margaret Comeaux (VP Production – Music & Events) will now report to Tanki, while Leslie Fram (SVP Music Strategy & Talent) will dual report into Tanki and Bruce Gillmer, Head of Music and Music Talent for the Global Entertainment Group.

In an internal memo obtained by Deadline (read it in full below), Kay stressed that while “the leadership structure announced today will more closely align CMT with the Paramount Network and TV Land,” it will do so while “ensuring [CMT] maintains its country roots.”

The leadership change of CMT comes as the network logged its highest-rated fiscal third quarter since 2014 — up 14% among adults 18-49 from last year — following 29 consecutive weeks of year-over-year demo growth.

“CMT is one of the most distinct brands in all of media, and Frank is the perfect leader to guide the team to new summits of success,” said Kay. “I am confident that Frank will apply the same ingenuity that has been the hallmark of his career at Viacom to ensure that CMT continues to thrive, while keeping the network true to its brand.”

Tanki is a 12-year Viacom veteran who has worked on a number of successful properties, including Spike’s Lip Sync Battle and Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Prior to being named GM of TV Land, he served as EVP Brand Marketing and Creative at Spike TV and held several roles at Nickelodeon including most recently SVP Nickelodeon Strategic Property Planning & Marketing.

“As a fan of CMT and country music, I’m thrilled to join the team and remain committed to ensuring this iconic brand continues its upward trajectory as the leading destination for country music and culture,” said Tanki. “My focus is to successfully navigate CMT through the changing media landscape and extend the power of the brand’s voice.”

Here is Kay’s memo announcing Philips’ departure from CMT, Tanki’s appointment and the realignment of the network’s executive team:

I’m writing to let you know that Brian Philips has decided to step down as President of CMT after dedicating an incredible 16 years to shaping the network.

It’s difficult to overstate the critical role Brian has played at CMT. A fiercely passionate music fan with a career spanning both radio and television, Brian has shepherded CMT through some of its most important – and transformational – moments. Under his leadership, the network doubled its subscriber base and launched some its most successful series, including “CMT Crossroads,” “CMT Music Awards,” and “Nashville.” Brian is leaving the brand in excellent shape- we’ve attracted and retained new audiences and advertisers and delivered 29 consecutive weeks of ratings growth.

His departure leaves behind some big shoes, so we’re making a few changes to the leadership structure to ensure CMT continues to thrive. Moving forward, Frank Tanki will serve as General Manager of CMT in addition to his current role as General Manager of TV Land.

He will oversee day-to-day operations including Programming, Marketing & Creative, and Communications, and will work closely with CMT’s development team. In addition, Frank will create new opportunities to leverage the combined reach and influence of both CMT and TV Land, who each attract a significant and distinct adult audience.

A creative, forward-thinking leader and a 12-year veteran of Viacom, Frank has contributed to some of the company’s most successful properties, ranging from Spike’s “Lip Sync Battle” to Nickelodeon’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” I have every confidence that he will bring this ingenuity to CMT while keeping true to our brand.

Frank will be supported by CMT’s talented executive team. Suzanne Norman (SVP, Program Operations), Anthony Barton (SVP, Consumer Marketing and Creative), Kurt Patat (SVP, Corporate Communications), Margaret Comeaux (VP, Production – Music & Events) and Leslie Fram (SVP, Music Strategy & Talent) will report directly to Frank. Leslie will also dual report into Bruce Gillmer, the Head of Music and Music Talent for the Global Entertainment Group.

We are also taking this opportunity to align Development resources across the organization. As a result, Jayson Dinsmore (EVP Development and Production) will now report into Keith Cox, President of Production & Development for Paramount Network and TV Land. Brian will work closely with this group to ensure a smooth transition with minimal interruption.

CMT is an iconic brand with a large and loyal audience, and Viacom remains committed to supporting its continued growth. The leadership structure announced today will more closely align CMT with the Paramount Network and TV Land, while ensuring it maintains its country roots.

I’ve so enjoyed working with Brian over the past few months, and would like to thank him for his many contributions to CMT and Viacom over the years. Please join me in wishing him the best of luck as he starts his next venture. And, to everyone else at CMT, thank you for your continued hard work, commitment and creativity.


Rachel Bilson Chats About "Nashville" On CMT

(6/23/17) (Video) Join actor Rachel Bilson as she talks about her new role on the hit show "Nashville" on CMT. Bilson plays a Silicon Valley marketing guru named Alyssa Greene whom Zach brings in to help a still-struggling Highway 65 Records following the untimely death of its label head.

Nashville Recap: Girl, No

(6/23/17) ( There’s a brief yet fitting refrain that I found myself chanting at several points during this week’s Nashville: Girl, no.

When new Highway 65 marketing wunderkind Alyssa Greene makes a joke about writing songs about toilet paper in order to pay the bills: Girl, no.

When Hallie considers ditching her first recording contract because she’s in love with her shady guitar player: Girl, no.

When Juliette continues on this ridiculous path of stealing Maddie’s song: Girl, no!

When Maddie starts thinking of herself as a victim, however small, in Clay’s racially motivated traffic stop: Say it with me now — Girl, NO.

I was on vacation last week, but I’m back, and do we have stuff to talk about or what?! Read on for the highlights of “A Change Would Do You Good.”

NOT READY TO MAKE NICE | The video of Maddie has gone viral, with talking heads debating whether or not her speaking up when Clay got pulled over was beneficial or un-American. (The country music world, by the way, is pretty heavily tipped toward the latter.) A Nashville city councilman suggests that she apologize publicly, and Deacon’s inclined to agree, because he just wants the whole thing — including the abuse Maddie’s taking online — to go away. But Mads maintains she did nothing wrong and refuses to play along.

That feistiness earns her praise from Juliette (who has the nerve to run through the song she filched from the unwitting teen while Maddie is sitting right in front of her) and even more distance from Clay, who has become an unwilling participant in the media circus surrounding his non-girlfriend girlfriend. All of the unwanted attention sends him into a bad emotional place, one in which he doesn’t sleep, ignores his phone and manically makes music for hours on end. When Maddie finally shows up at his place, he tells her with certainty (and a significant amount of sadness) that whatever they had is over. “There was never a real place for us. We just couldn’t admit it,” he says, and she hugs him but doesn’t protest.

Back at home, she cries and apologizes to Deacon for all the trouble that she’s caused. Then she decides to put out her own apology, live-streaming a mea culpa for escalating the incident but refusing to say she’s sorry for standing up for Clay. Then She and Daphne — who’s the only one who knows that houseguest Liv posted a mean meme of Mads — sing a song to wrap up the broadcast. Elsewhere, Clay packs up his life and drives away.

Side note: Did it feel weird to anyone else that Maddie became the focus of the Clay-getting-pulled-over storyline? Granted, her actions seem very much in line with what an outspoken, somewhat dramatic girl of her age and upbringing would do in that situation. But a lot of time was spent talking about how many people were being mean to Maddie online, and not a lot of time was spent talking about how the troll treatment pales in comparison to what really matters: how people of color are often treated differently by law enforcement officials in America. If you’re gonna do social justice, Nashville, better to go all in, right?

NEW GIRL | Meanwhile, at Highway 65, Zach introduces Deacon to Alyssa Greene (played by Rachel Bilson, [INSERT “WELCOME TO MUSIC CITY, BITCH!” OR “CHINO? EW” JOKE HERE]), a tech-savvy marketing person whom he calls a “go-to person when your company desperately needs to pivot.” She’s with the label as a tryout, but her first meeting with the musicians — Will, Juliette, Scarlett, Gunnar and Maddie, not to mention Deacon — gets off to a very rough start when she admits that she knows nothing about the music business. It goes even further south when she suggests brand partnerships, which the assembled artistes equate with shilling for mops and tires and such. There’s more, but I’ll just let Juliette’s face sum it all up:

Later, though, when Alyssa sets up a meeting for Will to talk to Budweiser about a sponsorship of sorts, Zach’s boyfriend finds himself suddenly, excitedly on board with brand partnerships.

BACK, BACK, BACK AND FORTH | If I were to write a novella about tonight’s episode, I would title it: Scarlett and Gunnar: What are they even? Because the last I saw, he was telling her he wasn’t going to sit by and watch her weep over Damien’s exit. Now he’s cooking her candlelit dinners and caressing her face? Even weirder, as she confesses to a highly uncomfortable Deacon, she doesn’t really want to jump ol’ Gunny’s bones anymore. Deke calmly suggests that she wait it out, because feelings can change, and isn’t Gunnar a good guy for wanting to stand by her and raise some other man’s kid? And OH MY GOD I JUST REALIZED THAT DEACON IS ADVOCATING THAT SCARLETT PLAY THE RAYNA TO GUNNAR’S TEDDY. I’m sure that will work out just fine.

CHOOSE OR LOSE | Juliette sets up a showcase for Hallie at The Bluebird, and the newbie is barely three lines into her first song before Avery and Deacon are planning her entire first album in their heads. Deacon offers her a contract soon after, but she hesitates in accepting after Avery suggests that she record with “great” musicians instead of her usual band… which includes George, the guitarist she loves but who is married to and has kids with another woman. When Hallie balks, Avery asks for two hours of her time in the studio with musicians he picks. And when she sings with those guys, she can’t deny that it sounds amazing. (Side note: Speaking of which, holy heck, does Rhiannon Giddens have a gorgeous set of pipes or what?!) While nothing is decided for certain in this episode, George? I’d start packing.

Thrones Vet to Hill House

(6/13/17) Game of Thrones alum Michiel Huisman is moving into a scary new residence at Netflix.

The actor will star in the streaming service’s forthcoming horror series The Haunting of Hill House, a modern reimagining of Shirley Jackson’s 1959 novel of the same name.

Per The Hollywood Reporter, Huisman — whose TV credits also include Orphan Black, Nashville and Treme — will play Steven Crane, a published writer of supernatural books, including a memoir about his family’s time living at Hill House.

Nashville Recap: There's Our Girl!

(6/9/17) ( Juliette does a mean, lowdown, plain-old bitchy thing in this week’s Nashville and, I swear on Dolly Parton’s storied wig collection, it could not come at a better time for the CMT drama.

What better to pull us out of our post-Rayna grief haze than Music City’s other diva extraordinaire making a painfully on-brand return to form? With all of the feeeeeeelings that have been making the rounds since Big Red’s unexpected trip to the Grandest Ole Opry of All, it feels kinda refreshing to see Ms. Barnes — who, indeed, has grown and matured since we first met her — make a move that her Season 1 self would’ve happily co-signed.

Oh, and Damien shows up in Nashville, which is somehow way less dramatic than I envisioned.

Read on for the highlights of “‘Til I Can Make It on My Own.”

BUT NOW WE’RE STRESSED OUT | Juliette opens the episode by telling her doctor about that weird moment she had when she was waiting for Maddie in the café last week, a phenomenon he believes is “psychological, not neurological.” This enrages her, especially when he suggests that her mini-fugue states may be related to a childhood trauma and not her recent plane crash. Avery pipes up that Juliette’s father died when she was 4, but Ju shuts him down quickly and says she’s got no time for psychobabble, because she’s got a Music City Music Week festival concert appearance featuring the church choir the following evening. The doctor adds that her episodes are likely triggered by stress, and floats the idea of cancelling the show.

As she and Avery leave, Juliette can’t decide what to do. For what it’s worth, she’s convinced that her little check-outs were caused by the bad reviews of her gospel album, though Avery is skeptical. “My brain can’t process failure!” she cries. (Ha!) But then she comes up with a plan, right on the spot, and sends him off to play his Music Week slot… while she calls Glenn and tells him that she’s decided to perform at the festival without her new church besties. He’s like a) the concert is 40 hours away, and b) you’re a terrible person, then refuses to do her bidding.

So Juliette summons Hallie to her rehearsal and lies, saying that the record label is ordering her to play only her old stuff — solo — at the gig. Ju softens the blow with the promise of a five-date mini-tour with the choir, but Hallie can’t hide how disappointed/angry she is, and the whole interaction sets off another “foggy episode” in which Juliette zones out; she’s helped a little when Hallie coaches her to breathe and think about her happy place, which causes her to flash back to hanging out with her dad at the trailer they shared with Jolene. (Side note: Props to the show for bringing Sylvia Jefferies back to play Ju’s mama in the flashbacks.)

When Hallie breaks the news to the choir, they think she’s nuts: CLEARLY, Juliette isn’t telling the truth. And when Hallie later stops by Ju’s to pick up passes and such to watch the Music Week performance, Emily obliviously let on that the label had nothing to do with the abrupt change of plans. (Dude, Juliette, if you’re gonna be bad, at least let your assistant in on it!) “You selfish, narcissistic bitch!” Hallie spits at the blonde, who — frightened by the occurrence of another episode during a rehearsal — at least has the good grace to end the falsehood right there. “I can’t go back out there after all this time and promote something nobody gave a crap about!” she says, but Hallie doesn’t want to hear it, especially when Juliette maintains that she really cares for her plane-crash angel. “There’s only one person you care about,” Hallie says, leaving.

NEW ROOMIE? | Let’s take a break from JuDrama for a while. Daphne’s lying to Deacon about hanging out with Liv, the homeless girl from the last episode. (I’m going to recap this new teen storyline lightly in the hopes that it goes away soon: While I’ve got no beef with Daphne or Maisy Stella’s portrayal of her, I fear a Maddie’s Terrible Year redux, and nobody wants that.) Liv cuts her arm fleeing from getting caught stealing from a salvage yard, and when Daphne fears that the girl’s wound will get infected, she brings her home for some hydrogen peroxide and a few Daria episodes. Then Daph decides that Liv should stay in her room, a fact she unsuccessfully tries to hide from Deacon. Deke says no to Liv’s residency, but upon learning she’s 15 and was abandoned by her folks, he softens and lets her stay “until we can figure something out.” Later that night, while Daphne sleeps, Liv looks at a photo of Deacon, Rayna and the girls and cries.

BYE, BUCKY | Perhaps Deacon’s ability to think clearly is hampered by the fact that Zach is dogging him to fire Bucky. The tech mogul brings it up at every opportunity — including just before Voice winner Casadee Pope gives Deke the world’s most awkward hug at the entrance to the music festival (it was weird, right?) — and maintains that Buck’s adherence to traditional publicity models will hurt the release of Maddie’s forthcoming single. For what it’s worth, Zach wants to do a low-key midnight release targeting influencers, which only makes me think about that You’re the Worst episode where Sam and the guys want Gretchen to throw a secret show… and then they’re mad when no one shows up.

Bucky’s not dumb, and when he tells Deacon he knows something’s going on, Deke confirms it but says he’s not on board. Nevertheless, Bucky turns in his resignation by the end of the episode, tearfully advising Deke to “be careful, because I’ve got the feeling I’m only the first.” Aw, Buck!

DADDY’S HOME | Damien’s in town, so Scarlett meets him to tell him he inadvertently put a little Yorkshire Pudding in her oven. He drinks a lot of vodka, then tells her he wants to make a go of it with her, but she turns him down. This is probably smart. But the whole situation probably isn’t as wrapped-up as it appears, given the way Damien watches The Exes share a close moment at the festival later on. (Side note: During The Exes’ festival performance, it looks like Gunnar is dabbling with a smoky eye. Let’s hope it continues, because I, for one, am 100 percent here for his Guyliner Experimentation Phase.)

ALWAYS BRING BACK UP (SINGERS) | Back to Juliette, who processes what she’s done — Avery’s expression when she asks, “Am I narcissistic?” is amazing — and then goes to the church to apologize, saying she acts out of fear that people will know she’s a fraud. (The fact that even her happy place memories have devolved to scenes of her parents’ fighting and her father’s death speak to her inner turmoil.) But Hallie & Co. don’t really care, and I can’t really blame them: For all her talk of not exploiting the choir and its sound, that’s exactly what she’s done. She asks them to join her on stage at the festival — the mini-tour was also a lie, so this will be their only chance to perform together* — but there’s no indication that they will.

So as she gets ready to sing later that evening ($10 to anyone who can define Juliette’s on-stage style for me, because right now, my best guess is “Egyptian-robot chic”), Ju is overjoyed to see the choir show up for her. I’ve said it before, but as long as this show keeps doing it, I’ll say it again: No rehearsal whatsoever? This should be AMAZING.

They go up on stage and vamp, waiting for Juliette to make her entrance, but it takes her longer than usual because she’s having a vision of her ghostly dad hugging her in a forest. But when she comes out of it, she proudly climbs to the stage and joins her church friends for a well-received version of “I’m on My Way.” Meanwhile, Avery turns down an opportunity to open for Edward Sharpe on tour, because Juliette “needs” him — though he never consults with her on the matter. There is absolutely no way that this won’t lead to some kind of trouble.

* (Start small rant) You mean to tell me in the southern United States, where seemingly every other station on the radio dial is a Christian one, there’s NO money to be made in having Juliette Barnes and Friends play their gospel numbers? (End small rant)

‘Nashville’: Rachel Bilson Will Not Sing, Controversy Awaits In Season 5B – ATX

(6/8/17) Nashville is ramping up to premiere its new faces, Rachel Bilson and Empire alum Kaitlin Doubleday. Following a special screening of the latest episode at the ATX Television Festival, writer Scott Saccoccio said of Bilson’s character Alyssa Greene: “Zack (Cameron Scoggins) brings her in. She’s from Silicon Valley, as a new CEO for Highway 65. She brings new ideas to the label that maybe not everybody likes, but some do and maybe that will create problems.”

While co-writer Jesse Zwick explained that Bilson’s character will not sing, saying, “She’s not a singer professionally,” exec music producer Tim Lauer joked, “She may or not go to a karaoke bar.”

Doubleday, the other new addition to the show, was not, Zwick said, selected for her previous form on Empire–that other soapy show about the music industry. “I didn’t know her specifically from Empire,” he said, “but we had a long process of looking for someone to play that role and we actually auditioned and read a lot of people and she was just someone that won it in the room. She’s just an excellent actress and we again had the freedom to pick the best person for it and it was her, she proved it, and you’ll see a lot more of her soon.”

Doubleday will debut as scandal-ridden singer-songwriter Jessie Caine on June 15, while Bilson will begin her arc June 22.

Just two episodes into the second half of Season 5, it’s still a brave new world for Nashville since its mainstay Connie Britton’s departure in Season 5A’s finale. As country star Rayna James, Britton dominated storylines until her untimely death following a car accident. Widespread concerns the show would not recover so far seem unfounded, Zwick said. “The amount of people who tweeted at me that they would never watch the show again and then told me a week later they were crying their eyes out,” he said. “People want to see what life would be like for everyone else, despite themselves, they’ve fallen in love with everybody else in the show and we’re just happy it went that way.”

While fans may weather the loss of Britton, writer-producer Geoffrey Nauffts said it had been very hard on the girls playing her daughters Maddie (Lennon Stella) and Daphne (Maisy Stella), and on the rest of the cast. “They’ve all grown up with her as their mom,” he said. “Just in talking about it, the girls were a mess. That whole episode was just an emotional train wreck for everyone.”

However, Saccoccio said the fan-driven move to CMT after ABC’s cancellation has been positive creatively. “It feels like the absolute perfect home,” he said. “It feels like this is where Nashville should be and should have been.” Nauffts agreed, saying CMT had given them more creative freedom.

“In general we’ve been able to slow down the storylines a little bit,” he said, “let them breathe a lot more, which has been really nice. I think we may have–in the old days on network television– shied away from the religion story for example, with Juliette (Hayden Panettiere). I think for network television that’s a little harder to tackle.”

The show is also planning more controversial storylines coming up, Zwick added. “All I can say is that CMT is giving us the creative freedom to explore these things. I wasn’t on ABC, but I think in general there’s a little bit more emphasis on letting us do our thing and explore these things, compared to say, the way a traditional network tries to drown you in notes.”

‘Nashville’ Ratings Steady In Midseason Premiere On CMT

(6/7/17) Nashville launched the second part of its fifth season last Thursday to ratings that were in line with the Season 5 premiere (and CMT debut) of the country music drama in January, which delivered the network’s its most-watched original telecast ever.

The Nashville S5B premiere drew a .81 adults 18-49 rating in Live+3, up +6% vs. the Season 5 opener; and a 1.06 rating in women 18-49, up +9%. The overall viewership was a bit down, 1.7 million, off by -15% from the record-setting Season 5 premiere (2 million). That means that the series has shed older viewers while adding a few younger ones, which could be understandable as Nashville is focusing more on its younger ensemble following the exit of original star Connie Britton.

Across three airings on Thursday, two on CMT and one on sibling Nick at Nite, the Nashville Season 5B debut averaged 2.6 million viewers in Live+3, down -16% from the three premiere night telecasts combined of the Season 5A opener.

Nashville continues to attract new audiences to CMT. According to the network, 87% of the adults 18-49 viewers who tuned in to the Nashville S5B Premiere on CMT were ‘new viewers’, meaning they had not tuned in to CMT in the prior 7 days. Additionally, #NashvilleCMT trended on Twitter in the U.S. on Premiere Night, and Nashville ranked #1 on Drama Series Program Ranker (Nielsen Social, 6/1/17).

Lennon and Maisy Are All Grown Up While Celebrating Graduation With the Nashville Cast

(6/6/17) (Pic) Viral stars Lennon and Maisy are exchanging plastic containers for diplomas.

Close to five years after going viral with their cover of Robyn's song "Call Your Girlfriend," the sister duo has another reason to celebrate. It's time for graduation!

"So thankful for my set family. They surprised me and Len with a graduation lunch and I can't even believe how thoughtful and sweet!" Maisy wrote on Instagram while filming Nashville. "THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH. I love you allllllllll SO MUCH. (And thank you mummy) they even made me a langhorne academy sweatshirt because that's the school i go to on the show!!!!! SO AMAZING."

She added, " (And a HUGE thank you to my MUMMM and teachers for thinking of this)."

For those who haven't caught on, Lennon appears to be graduating from high school while Maisy is bidding farewell to middle school.

(Video) Fans of the duo will remember all too well that the young girls left their mark on the Internet after performing their own version of Erato's cover of Robyn's hit song.

With two empty plastic containers and a pair of microphones, the girls belted out their own unique rendition of "Call Your Girlfriend." Since its release date, the video has earned more than 29 million views on YouTube with the sisters obtaining close to 765,000 subscribers.

If that wasn't enough, the pair earned roles on the popular series Nashville and performed at the CMA Awards.

Through all their accomplishments, one thing has remained the same: Both Lennon and Maisy have a special bond that can't be broken.

"Best friends since forever," the pair wrote on Instagram with a throwback photo from childhood. They grow up so fast, don't they?

Nashville Recap: The Beat Goes On

(6/2/17) ( Now that Nashville‘s Rayna Jaymes is buried under (too soon?), her friends and loved ones have to learn how to move on. But as the midseason premiere demonstrates, that’s far more easily said than done — or sung.

Daphne, in particular, finds herself adrift after her mother’s unexpected death, and Deacon has no clue how to help her. The widower is equally in over his head at Highway 65, where Zach is throwing around start-up buzzwords and suggesting the sacking of loyal, longtime staff members

And then we find out who Scarlett’s baby daddy is.

Read on for the highlights of the midseason premiere, “Back in the Saddle Again.”

A BLESSED BUST | Ten weeks after the events of the midseason finale, Juliette gathers Hallie and other members of the Mountain Rose Baptist Church choir for a party celebrating the release of her gospel album. But the reviews aren’t good — they call Ju’s passion project everything from a “treacly mess” to “culturally tone deaf” — and Juliette smarts from the harsh criticism. Avery maintains that if she’s happy with the work, she should be content. Silly Avery! Have you never met your wife/ex-wife/whatever she is now?

So Juliette chooses to channel her frustration about her own album into consulting on Maddie’s — specifically, the first single. But when she suggests a few changes about the hook, Maddie acts like Juliette kicked her puppy up and down the avenue. She records the song both ways (hers and Ju’s) then makes Clay take a blind listening test to say which one is better. Of course he picks Juliette’s, but then advises that Maddie follow her heart. There’s a whole lot more of Maddie being rather precious about her art — kid, you’re 17, and a major recording star is giving you her expertise for free because she likes you and she loved your mama, so how about we hush up a little, ‘kay? — but she eventually realizes that Juliette’s version is the right way to go. (P.S. It IS.)

DAPHNE’S TURN TO BE THE PROBLEM | Daphne’s in danger of failing history and having to repeat seventh grade, a situation Deacon wasn’t aware of but is determined to reverse. So he helps her with a big school project, creating a model of Amelia Earhart’s plane, but a kid accidentally knocks it out of her hands before class and the thing busts into a jillion pieces. (Side note: That’s some shoddy craftsmanship, Deke.) So she ditches school and winds up hanging out with a homeless girl who lives with other runaway types in an abandoned building. The new girl, Liv, and Daphne bond over their shared love of Daria. (Side note: Aren’t they way too young to know that show? Or are the kids streaming it now? And could I write any other sentence that would make me sound as old as that last one did?)

When Daphne returns home, Deke and Maddie are relieved: The school had reported her missing, and with the whole stalker thing in the family’s recent past, they were understandably worried. But Daph is so despondently “whatever” about the whole thing that Deacon takes her to a counselor who’s got some news for him: Daphne’s not just grieving, she’s going through major depression triggered by Rayna’s death.

So after some forced joviality at home — and one truly silly dad joke — Deacon is able to get through to his younger daughter, if only a little. And when Maddie and Deke go to hug her, she doesn’t pull away.

TECH TALK | At work, Deacon is overwhelmed by Zach’s plans for the company (which isn’t turning a profit at the moment, btw). But then again, Zach is using words like “disruptor” and “mindshare” and suggesting that Bucky be put out to pasture, so it’s no wonder that an old-schooler like Deke is uninterested in pretty much everything the tech wunderkind has to say.

Oh, and Zach and Will are officially boyfriend and boyfriend, a status cemented by Zach’s enthusiastic appearance at Will’s concert.

YOU… ARE NOT THE FATHER! | So that leaves us with Scarlett, who’s able to shake off her pregnancy queasiness for a rollicking Exes show but who is generally hating life otherwise. Damien keeps calling and texting, but she’s ignoring him… at least until the paternity test Gunnar took comes back.

But when it does, it’s negative: Damien is the daddy. “It’s OK. It doesn’t matter. I still love you,” Gunny says as he hugs Scarlett close, and it takes me a full 30 seconds to remember exactly what their relationship deal is right now. (Answer: undefined.) Later on, Gunnar processes all of his emotions while Avery listens; Gunny had gotten used to the idea of having a family with Scarlett, and he’s having a hard time letting go. “Why can’t I just man up and get over it?” he laments, and if there’s a better summation of Gunnar’s entire existence, I haven’t heard it.

Avery suggests that his friend just “try again. Fail better.” And that sends Gunnar literally running to Scarlett’s place, where he pledges to love her imperfectly and wonders if they can try again to be together. She agrees, and then embrace, but she looks like the whole thing hurts her. Or maybe that’s just the constant acid reflux.

‘Nashville’ Casts Katrina Norman

(6/1/17) Katrina Norman (No Strings Attached) has booked a recurring role on Season 5b of CMT’s hit country music drama Nashville. Norman will play Polly, a stunning, authentic and confident road manager for a popular musician. Season 5B picks up ten weeks after the midseason finale with Maddie’s (Lennon Stella) career starting to take off, as Juliette (Hayden Panettiere) struggles; Scarlett (Clare Bowen) is pregnant and uncertain of the identity of the father, while Deacon (Charles Esten) is fighting to keep Highway 65 afloat. Norman’s TV credits include guest roles on series including CSI, Criminal Minds, Castle and 90210. She recently worked on the CW pilot Paranormal Project as well as Netflix’s Flaked. Norman is repped by J Pervis Talent Agency and Mark Schumacher Management. Produced by Lionsgate, ABC Studios, and Opry Entertainment, the second half of Season 5 is set to premiere on CMT Thursday, June 1 at 9 PM.

Powers Boothe Died of Heart Attack Due to Pancreatic Cancer, According to Death Certificate

(5/30/17) Powers Boothe was suffering from pancreatic cancer, which led to him dying from cardiopulmonary arrest ... this according to the death certificate obtained by TMZ.

The "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." and "Sin City" actor died in his sleep at his L.A. home a little more than 2 weeks ago. According to the document the immediate cause was a fatal heart attack, but Powers was also quietly battling cancer for at least 6 months.

The family held a private service in Texas for him. Booth was inducted into the Texas Film Hall of Fame in 2009.

He was 68.


(5/30/17) The 11TH ANNUAL ACM HONORS™ will return for the second year to the CBS Television Network to celebrate the special honorees and off-camera category winners from the “52nd Academy of Country Music Awards.” The special honorees include Kelsea Ballerini, Eric Church, Toby Keith, Bob Kingsley, Reba McEntire, “Nashville,” Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Shel Silverstein (awarded posthumously) and George Strait.

The ACM Honors will be held on Wednesday, August 23 at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, and will be produced for television by dick clark productions and broadcast on CBS at a later date.

Additional off-camera categories that will be feted at the 11TH ANNUAL ACM HONORS include Industry Awards and Studio Recording Awards, along with the previously announced Songwriter of the Year Award winner, Lori McKenna. McKenna is the first female to win in the ACM Songwriter of the Year category.

The Academy of Country Music Special Awards are voted on by the ACM Board of Directors for specific achievements. For more information on specific awards, please visit

ACM Honors will be produced for television by dick clark productions. Allen Shapiro, Mike Mahan, R.A. Clark, Barry Adelman and Mark Bracco are executive producers. Pete Fisher and Tiffany Moon are executive producers for the Academy of Country Music.

Nashville EP Promises Rest of Season 5 Isn't a 'Depressing Memorial' to Rayna

(5/29/17) Though grief is a circuitous journey full of setbacks and bad days, Nashville co-showrunner Marshall Herskovitz would like you to know that Rayna Jaymes’ friends and loved ones are coming out of the worst of it.

And so, though the redheaded country music star will continue to be a presence when the CMT drama returns on Thursday, June 1 (9/8c), don’t expect the back half of the season to be a weeping, wailing rehash of her untimely death.

“What we’ve always tried to do in our shows in the past is respect the real stakes” of characters’ lives, Herskovitz says, referring to his work with co-showrunner Ed Zwick on series like thirtysomething and My So-Called Life.

What that means for Nashville: Don’t expect Deacon, Maddie, Daphne and the rest of Music City to bounce back from their profound sadness in a few weeks’ time… but as time passes, don’t expect them to be consumed by it, either.

“This loss is so profound,” Herskovitz says, adding that the series’ time jump means we’re picking up with the characters about 10 weeks since the events of the finale. “It’s something that affects you for the rest of your life. It’s not something you get over in two episodes.” Still, as we saw in the trailer released earlier this week, Deke and the girls are getting back to life — and the drama that goes along with it (cough homeless teen in the house cough) — starting with the midseason premiere.

The questions they’ll struggle with, he says, include, “Am I allowed to have joy in my life? What do I do with this relentless feeling?” And when the loss hits them the hardest, “You’ll see each of the three break down,” he adds, but “not necessarily in the first episode.”

As the season builds toward its finale, the EP continues, he hopes it’ll represent an accurate portrayal of how families dealing with crushing grief soldier on. And there’ll still be music, comedy and intrigue mixed in, he adds, promising that the mix “doesn’t lead to the show being a depressing memorial to Rayna’s memory.”

Nashville: New Season 5 Trailer Plays Up Juliette's Big Fears, Finds Scarlett and Gunnar Facing Down a Gun (?!)

(5/25/17) (Video) If Juliette’s career falters in the second half of Nashville‘s fifth season, perhaps she can make a living out of her favorite hobby: finding trouble where there is none.

As you’ll see in this new trailer for the upcoming episodes — which get underway on Thursday, June 1, at 9/8c — Ms. Barnes undergoes challenges both professional (a slight backstage panic attack) and personal (the likely completely made-up fear that Hallie and Avery are growing closer than they should be) while the rest of Music City deals with its own drama.

Among the preview’s gems:

* Ahead of finding out who fathered Scarlett’s baby, she, Gunnar and Damien are engaging in what’s best deemed an… atypical relationship.

* Daphne’s befriended a homeless girl, which just about sends Deacon over the edge.

* Clay gets pulled over for Driving While Black, and Maddie gets a front-row seat to racial inequality as it pertains to the law enforcement system.

* Will calls Zach his “boyfriend.” But the reappearance of Murray Bartlett’s Jakob Fine can’t be good for relationship stability, right?

* “I know that you don’t like me,” Rachel Bilson’s Alyssa — aka Highway 65’s new chief strategy officer — tells Deacon. “You don’t like anything that I stand for.”

* We are once more introduced to Kaitlin Doubleday’s Jesse Cain, a singer/songwriter whose return to Nashville is steeped in her past scandal. (Doesn’t seem to bother Deacon, though.)

* Gunnar and Scarlett end the trailer at gunpoint. Wait, what?

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.

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