Nashville became the only ABC freshman drama to get a renewal after spending most of the spring on the bubble. And now that Season 2 is a go, the show will undergo some changes. For now, they appear to be limited to the production/post-production areas. Line producer Loucas George, who ran the operation on the ground in Nashville, where the series is filmed, announced on Twitter shortly after the renewal 10 days ago that his contract had not been renewed. That also applies to his team, including production supervisor Don Bensko, as the new line producer is expected to bring in his/her crew.
Changes on Nashville were expected following a rocky freshman season, with the show going through growing pains and struggling with its creative direction as well as the ratings. I’ve reported accounts of tension between co-producers ABC Studios and Lionsgate and other behind-the-scene issues, including star Connie Britton being unhappy with the experience. In an editorial for The Santa Clarita News, Bensko’s wife Micaela, lamenting the decision not to pick up her husband’s option, spoke about “14-20 hour days with an unrelenting schedule due to issues beyond their control” and “a string of endless and exhausting shoot days” as “a string of delayed scripts and tripping storylines kept everyone on edge.” She also recounted an on-set accident, in which “one of our crew lost his footing while rigging for a huge arena shoot at The Bridgestone. He fell twenty feet and almost died.”
Part of the issue has been the fact that Nashville is filmed in Nashville while the show’s writers as well as producers and studio executives are in Los Angeles. But the location helps Nashville stay authentic, and Lionsgate TV and ABC Studios are lobbying the state of Tennessee for better tax incentive terms. I hear the intention is to keep the production in Nashville but the economics will factor into the final decision.
Creatively, most problems seems to have been resolved, and Dee Johnson is expected to continue as showrunner on the series created by Oscar winner Callie Khouri. In addition to the solid response from critics (Britton is a major awards contender), Nashville draws important young viewers and also generates sizable revenue from digital music downloads.