Country music drama Nashville will be short two series regulars when it makes the transition from ABC to CMT — Will Chase and Aubrey Peeples. They could come back for guest-starring appearances subject to availability.
Cuts on the show were expected as it has to adjust from a Big 4 broadcast network license fee to a basic cable fee. For both Chase and Peeples, the departures are not surprising and could very well have happened even if the series were staying on ABC as their story arcs have largely played out. That is especially true for Chase, whose character Luke was originally introduced as a love interest to Connie Britton’s Rayna Jaymes. In the Season 4 finale, Luke celebrated victory in his campaign to support client Will Lexington against homophobia, reconciled with his son and even reconnected with his ex-wife, tying all loose ends for a happily ever after. Meanwhile, Peeples’ Layla, who was on her third hookup on the show — first Will, then Jeff Fordham and now Avery, was painted as a reluctant villain in Season 4, scheming to keep Avery and Juliette apart, but that storyline also came to a conclusion in the finale when she was exposed.
Neither Chase nor Peeples, whose exit was first reported by TVLine, were original cast members and both started recurring on the show in the first half of the second season. Chase was promoted to regular in Season 3, Peeples in Season 4.
Talks with the other cast members, including the core original cast, continue. “Our expectation and our hope is that everyone will participate in this next cycle,” CMT’s head of programming Jayson Dinsmore recently said in an interview with Deadline. He singled out several stars for supporting the show in its move to its new home, including Connie Britton, Chip Esten and Clare Bowen.
Nashville leading studio, Lionsgate TV, declined comment.
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.