CMT Upfront: ‘Still The King’ & NASCAR Mini Get Premiere Dates; ‘Kellie Pickler’ Renewal; First ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ Castings


CMT said at its upfront presentation today that it is doubling its original programming with a slew of reality, music and documentary programs along with its previously announced first forays into the scripted arena. The cable net also announced premiere dates for its scripted comedy Still the King, unscripted stunt series The Dude Perfect Show and miniseries NASCAR: The Rise of American Speed.

“Much like our hometown of Nashville, CMT embraces both tradition and change,” said Brian Philips, President of CMT. “This year, we are doubling our original programming to celebrate the bigger and broader country fan base. We’re crafting stories and characters that are multifaceted and unexpected.”

CMT also said it has finalized the cast for Million Dollar Quartet (working title), its adaptation on the Tony-winning musical. Drake Milligan will play pre-fame Elvis Presley, Kevin Fontaine is Johnny Cash, and twins Christian Lees and Jonah Lees, both repped by Creative Partners Group and Waring & McKenna in the UK, are cousins Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggert, respectively. Other cast, including the Carl Perkins and Sam Phillips roles, will be announced later. The eight-episode limited series will debut during the November sweep.

In other news from CMT’s upfront: Still the King, starring Billy Ray Cyrus and Joey Lauren Adams, will premiere Sunday, June 12; The Dude Perfect Show, from prolific producer Rob Dyrdek, will bow Tuesday, April 12 (watch the new trailer above); and NASCAR: The Rise of American Speed revs up over three consecutive Sundays starting May 8. The net picked up a second season of docuseries I Love Kellie Picker, from producer Ryan Seacrest, and announced Concert of the Summer, a tentpole music event planned to air annually.

Here is a more complete list, with synopses provided by CMT:


This year, CMT makes an ambitious move into scripted programming with the premieres of “Still The King” and “Million Dollar Quartet.”

Coming this November, “Million Dollar Quartet,” produced by Leslie Grief (“Hatfields & McCoys”) and directed by Oscar nominee Roland Joffé, is a coming-of-age story set in the unraveling world of 1950s Memphis where music and race collide, ultimately creating pop music’s first superstars.

After a nationwide casting call held at Elvis Presley’s high school alma mater in Memphis last month, CMT has cast Drake Milligan as young Elvis PresleyKevin Fonteyne (“Masters of Sex,” “Melissa & Joey”) as Johnny Cash, and twins Christian Lees (“Tale of Tales,” and “Parents”) and Jonah Lees (“Tale of Tales,” “Eric & Ernie”) as cousins Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart, respectively. Additional cast members will be announced at a later date. During the Upfront event, Fonteyne and Milligan wowed the audience as they performed together for the first time as Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley.

The comedy “Still The King” debuts Sunday, June 12 at 9pm ET/PT, a few days after the “2016 CMT Music Awards.” The series boasts an impressive ensemble cast with Billy Ray CyrusJoey Lauren Adams (“Big Daddy,” “Mall Rats”), Madison Iseman (Laid in America,” Nickelodeon’s “Henry Danger”), Lacey Chabert (“Mean Girls,” “Party of Five”), Leslie David Baker (“The Office”), Kevin Farley (“The Waterboy”), Travis Nicholson and Jon Sewell.

“Still The King” follows Vernon (Cyrus), a scandal-ridden, washed-up, one-hit-wonder who crashes back into the life of his ex (Adams) and discovers he had a daughter (Iseman) he knew nothing about.


CMT’s award-winning slate of music programming and events continues to expand, including three tent-pole events (“CMT Music Awards,” “CMT Concert of the Summer” and “CMT Artists of the Year) as well as four new episodes of the seminal fan-favorite “CMT Crossroads.”

The network’s signature event, the “2016 CMT Music Awards,” premieres Wednesday, June 8 at 8pm ET/PT. This summer, CMT teams up with one of country’s biggest stars to redefine the concert-going experience; giving fans an all access pass and an unforgettable look at one of the year’s most sought after tickets with the inaugural music event, “Concert of the Summer.” The definitive year-end celebration, “CMT Artists of the Year,” premieres live on Wednesday, October 19 at 8pm ET/PT. Beginning this spring, CMT debuts four new episodes of its critically acclaimed genre-blending music series “CMT Crossroads.” Episodes feature Jason Derulo and Luke Bryan (summer), Nick Jonas and Thomas Rhett (summer), Cheap Trick and Jennifer Nettles (March 24th at 11pm ET/PT), and Rob Thomas and Charles Kelley (late spring).


CMT original documentaries tell authentic and provocative stories with an unexpected point-of-view. Having notched three critically acclaimed documentaries watched by more than 25 million viewers, CMT’s slate this year includes the high-octane three night event “NASCAR: The Rise of American Speed” (May 8, 15, 22 at 10pm ET/PT) as well SXSW selected original documentaries “The Bandit in August and “Chicken People in November.


Featuring a mix of new and returning favorites, CMT’s unscripted series celebrate the audience’s best attributes in new and unexpected ways. The highly anticipated “The Dude Perfect Show,” whose trailer was released today (INSERT HYPERLINK) to their 25 million fans kicks off Thursday, April 14 at 9pm ET/PT. Known for their wildly popular trick shot and stunt videos, the series, from producer Rob Dyrdek (MTV’s “Ridiculousness” and “Fantasy Factory”), follows the five viral sensations as they open the doors to their mancave in Dallas, Texas, to showcase exactly how they cook up their next crazy idea. The debut season will feature appearances from Luke BryanChris PaulDale Earnhardt Jr., Aaron Rogers and more.

On the heels of scoring CMT’s highest-rated series premiere since 2012 and highest with women since 2008, “I Love Kellie Pickler” from executive producer Ryan Seacrest returns for a second season in August, along with the 11th season of the fan-favorite “Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team,” which is coming off its highest-rated season to date.

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