The cable net will use the high-profile new addition to launch its 2017 original scripted lineup. Nashville will be followed by the debut of new limited drama series Million Dollar Quartet in March and the second season of comedy Still the King, which will unspool in the spring.
CMT, which entered the original scripted arena this year with the Billy Ray Cyrus starrer Still the King, aims to quadruple its original scripted series output next year.
“After a promising start with Still The King, we now have a clear path in attracting new audiences with our scripted programming,” said Jayson Dinsmore, CMT’s head of development. “Beginning with Nashville in January, each series will help launch the next; creating an overlay to cycle viewers through our originals year round.”
CMT just ordered a new scripted pilot, the hourlong His Wives & Daughters. Back in June, Dinsmore told Deadline that the plan was to order two scripted pilots with the hope “to add another series into the mix by next summer or next fall and then hopefully continuing to add another scripted series as we build out our entire week of programming each year.” That would bring the number of original scripted series on CMT in 2017 to 4.
Nashville — produced by Lionsgate, ABC Studios and Opry Entertainment — is making the jump to CMT after a four-year run on ABC where it was canceled in May. New episodes of the series, starring Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere, will be available on Hulu the day after they air on CMT. Nashville is being spearheaded by new showrunners Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick who executive produce with Steve Buchanan and Callie Khouri.
In his Deadline interview in June, Dinsmore also indicated that the network is mulling a Nashville aftershow in the vein of Talking Dead.
Set in Memphis during the tumultuous early days of the civil rights movement, the eight part limited-run series Million Dollar Quartet tells the untold true story of the birth of rock ‘n’ roll. Guided by Sam Phillips, young musicians like Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee 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, and changed the course of music forever. The cast includes Chad Michael Murray (Sun Records founder Sam Phillips), Billy Gardell (Presley and Arnold’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker), Drake Milligan (Elvis Presley), Kevin Fonteyne (Johnny Cash), Christian Lees (Jerry Lee Lewis), Jonah Lees (Jimmy Swaggart), Trevor Donovan (Eddy Arnold) and Keir O’Donnell (Dewey Phillips). Million Dollar Quartet is produced by Thinkfactory Media with Leslie Greif as executive producer, Gil Grant as executive producer and showrunner, Barry Berg as co-executive producer and Herb Nanas and Colin Escott as producers. Roland Joffé directs.
Still The King starring Billy Ray Cyrus and Joey Lauren Adams will return for a 13 episode second season in spring (exact date and time TBD).
The series debut of Still the King on June 8 marked CMT’s highest-rated original series premiere to date, grossing 3.6 million total viewers (L+3) and a 1.03 rating A18-49 rating across a 3 network simulcast (CMT, TV Land, Nick@Nite). The series is currently reaching more than 2 million viewers each week. Boosted by scripted and unscripted originals, CMT is up +11% year over year among Adults 18-49.