CMT is making a push into scripted drama, teaming with Hatfields & McCoys producer Thinkfactory Media to adapt the 2010 Broadway musical Million Dollar Quartet into an eight-episode limited series for premiere later this year. It’s timed to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the famed “Million Dollar Quartet” recording sessions featuring Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. Casting is underway with production set to begin in Memphis this spring.
The Broadway show was a Tony Award best musical nominee and Levi Kreis, who played Jerry Lee Lewis, won the Tony for best supporting actor in a musical.
Set in Memphis during the tumultuous early days of the civil rights movement, Million Dollar Quartet (working title) tells the true story of nothing less than the birth of rock ‘n’ roll. Guided by legendary producer Sam Phillips, young musicians like Cash, Presley, Perkins and Lewis combined the styles of hillbilly country with the 1950s R&B sound created by artists like Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Fats Domino and Ike Turner, changing the course of popular music forever. The series chronicles these young artists’ often jarring and sudden meteoric rise to fame in the face of sweeping political change and social unrest.
“Million Dollar Quartet will capture the star-crossed Memphis moments which led to the most explosive pop culture movement of the 20th Century, the birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” remarked Brian Philips, CMT president. “The characters are all larger-than-life, so casting is a daunting challenge, but we’re counting on the magic of Memphis to come alive again! This is among our most ambitious projects ever, and we entrust it to a proven epic filmmaker, Leslie Greif.”
“We are thrilled to be working with CMT as they enter the scripted drama arena,” said Leslie Greif, CEO & Founder of Thinkfactory Media. “At Thinkfactory Media, we pride ourselves in finding, developing and delivering products that fit the networks we work with, and Million Dollar Quartet is perfectly suited for CMT because of its deep ties to country music and Nashville. The entire Thinkfactory Media team and I are proud to be part of their expansion into rich new territory.”
Million Dollar Quartet is produced by Thinkfactory Media with Leslie Greif and Gil Grant serving as executive producers, and Colin Escott as producer. Jayson Dinsmore and Julia Silverton executive produce for CMT. It’s one of two scripted series coming to CMT this year. This summer, CMT will premiere Still The King, an ensemble comedy starring Billy Ray Cyrus, Joey Lauren Adams, Madison Iseman, Lacey Chabert, Leslie David Baker, and Kevin Farley.