***Disclosure: I received an all-expense paid trip to Hollywood to cover various Disney/ABC TV events. However, all opinions are 100% honest and have not been influenced in any way.***
So imagine my surprise when I learned that I would get to talk with the the producers of Nashville, Dee Johnson and Callie Khouri , who also writes the show! We also got to view a VERY early screening of the Season 2 finale! ( I can't give too much away, but let me tell you, this is intense! There are twists and turns that even the most devoted Nashville fan wouldn't ever see coming!)
Here's some more info about the program:
ABC’s “Nashville” stars Chris Carmack as Will Lexington, Clare Bowen as Scarlett O’Connor, Jonathan Jackson as Avery Barkley, Sam Palladio as Gunnar Scott, Maisy Stella as Daphne Conrad, Eric Close as Teddy Conrad, Lennon Stella as Maddie Conrad, Connie Britton as Rayna Jaymes, Charles Esten as Deacon Claybourne and Hayden Panettiere as Juliette Barnes. (ABC/Bob D’Amico)
In this series, we follow the careers and lives of several characters based in Music City. You'll meet Rayna James, a country legend whose career is slowing down, as well as her family. (This includes ex-husbands, boyfriends, and of course, her beautiful daughters.)
You will also meet some fresh, young stars who are eager to sing their way to the top of the charts. My favorite character would have to be Juliette Barnes, a rising teen star played by Hayden Panettiere. Why do I like Juliette so much? Well, she is quite damaged, and has been through a lot in her short life. She wants to be a better person, but doesn't always make the best decisions. I can definitely relate to her, as I was the same way in my younger years.
Anyway, the show is all set to go, but then Luke finds out that Juliette will be performing. This doesn't make him very happy at all, since he pretty much sees this young starlet as an absolute train-wreck. (Can you really blame him, though?) He is worried that her motivations for performing during this special show are completely self-serving.
However, Luke overhears Juliette talking candidly to a soldier about her father, a Black Hawk pilot, who gave his all for this great country when she was only 4 years old. Of course Luke has a change of heart and asks her to sing. The performance was amazing!
And then there's the season finale...Oh Lord, I would love to spill my guts here and tell you what happens during this very emotional episode. I was literally on the edge of my seat the whole time, and even got a bit teary in some parts. (Thank God for waterproof mascara!)
So if you want to know what happens, be sure to tune in to the Nashville Season 2 Finale. It airs on Wednesday, May 14th on ABC TV. Grab some popcorn and some tissues and enjoy!
Chatting with the Talent and Producers :
"So much of the music that is in our show isn’t necessarily what you would call country music. I, having lived in Nashville and my family living there, the thing that made me want to do the show is that there is all of this great music that is kind of stuck in Nashville that you never get to hear. It’s not going to make it to country radio. We have a few songs that would probably be on country radio, but most of them are the really great, heartfelt songs that you wouldn’t necessarily find on country radio. I love that our show is a platform to get that music out there because there are so many brilliant songwriters there and so much that you just wouldn’t call country. I don’t know exactly what you would call it, but it’s not what people think of as straight country music. I wasn’t concerned about it because I know how many good songs there are."
Does anybody think that Juliette is cured? To me it is important to keep these characters real. That is the whole thing for me with this show that I don’t want to do a cartoon about Nashville. I want to do real characters. I want to show the evolution of people. Juliette is two years older now. There has to be some kind of maturation otherwise it’s boring. When we are all in a room together and we make a decision she is going to sleep with Jeff , it hurts me a little bit, which I know makes it good. It is important to me that these characters evolve in a real way. We can always bring more people in if we really decide to put the Good Witch Glinda hat on Juliette. (Which we’re not, by the way.) She is so damaged.
But characters do evolve. Look at the character of Avery. Juliette and Avery bumped into each other in the pilot episode. He went on kind of a rise and a fall and a lot of people HATED him. He ate a big ol’ slice of humble pie and came out the other side of it. Jonathan Jackson is so wonderful and he is such a good person that when I would read about how people hated him and wanted him off the show, it literally hurt. So I kept saying we aren’t using him exactly right. I think we did it in a very real way because that is definitely a true story of people in Nashville who get very close – they think they are headed to the top – and POOF, the next thing you know it has fizzled out and they are back working at Popeye’s. The town is full of thousands and thousands of stories like that.
Here's what we learned about keeping the music authentic by allowing the cast to sing their hearts out, as well as how they cast the stars for the series:
Well, it was pretty intensive. I know I wanted Connie Britton and I honestly wanted her so much that I cast her without ever having heard her sing. When I met with her the first time she said, “Wow, it has been a long time since anybody has paid me to sing. ” And I was like “they paid her to sing!” In terms of Sam and Claire and Chip – all of them had to sing at their auditions. I had never met Sam in person until the first day he was on the set. He sent a tape from England. The same thing with Claire. I didn’t see her first audition. We had a really hard time. I saw so many people for the role of Scarlett. It’s really specific. I was getting really disheartened after seeing way too many people that could sing but still didn’t have that quality. It was a lot that we were asking for. To sing really, really well AND act. When Chip came in, from day one he was my guy and I had to convince everyone else that this guy who had mostly done comedy would fit that role. He fit the role for me, but other people weren’t so sure.
“It’s fun to play the tool. It’s very different in a movie, when you have your beginning, middle, and end right in front of you. I’ve been doing TV for 20 years. It’s like one giant movie that could run 8 years. I love that aspect of TV. You hope that every year something changes and your character is reinvented.”
Dee and Callie added, “The actors don’t know what their characters are going to do until they get the script. You put charcters in one situation and they’ll be a total jerk. You put them in another situation and they’ll be the best person ever. You can evolve characters and take them on a journey over several years. Start a character in one place and take them to a different place entirely.”
If you want a taste of what's coming up for the Nashville crew, be sure to watch the Season 2 Finale TOMORROW night at 10:00PM EST on ABC! Trust me. This is going to be HOT!