2013-03-14 / Entertainment

Hello From Hollywood

Nashville: Riding High at PaleyFest 2013
BY J. ROBERTS

FANS OF ABC’S freshman drama Nashville stormed PaleyFest 2013 for an afternoon with their favorite stars of the prime-time soap set in the world of country music. Series stars Connie Britton (Fright Night Lights) and Hayden Panettiere (Heroes) were joined by cast members Charles Esten, Sam Palladio, Clare Bowen and Jonathan Jackson – all who sing as professionals on the show – along with series creator Callie Khouri and showrunner, Dee Johnson. The drama focuses on country music icon, Rayna James (Britton) and her younger Taylor Swift-like rival, Juliette Barnes (Panettiere). As Rayna and Juliette navigate the demands of their singing careers - facing declining tastes and sales, the barn doors of their personal lives are flung open, revealing challenges involving their families, inner demons and past. Both actresses were nominated for Golden Globe awards, less than halfway into the first season.

What seemed to be most on the minds of fans was the sexual tension between Rayna and her exlover/ ex-band member, Deacon Claybourne (Esten). Will it get hotter or fade out fast? Well, Deacon passionately kissed her in an elevator when they were barely talking while on tour and her husband (now Nashville’s mayor played by Eric Close) asked her for a divorce just before Deacon showed up at her hotel room after a flirtatious series of text messages. It certainly looks like it’s heading in the direction fans will favor. There was even talk about Deacon being the father of Rayna’s oldest daughter. But only speculation at this point. Khouri, who won an Academy Award for her screenplay, Thelma & Louise, praised her writing collaborators and her partner RJ Cutler who directed the critically acclaimed pilot and insisted that there would be no spoilers revealed at the event. In fact, the show’s next original episode airs on March 27th, explaining why the festival showed a repeat episode instead of a new one.

Khouri and the cast attributed the show’s creative genius largely to Khouri’s husband, T- Bone Burnett, the record producer, songwriter and musician. His credits include the soundtrack for the Grammy-Award winning film O Brother, Where Art Thou?, the Oscar-nominated, Cold Mountain, and Crazy Heart, winning a Best Song Golden Globe, Grammy and an Oscar for The Weary Kind.

When talk of a tour just like Glee, the other musical show that helped lay the groundwork for scripted musical dramas, Esten, Palladio, Bowen and Johnson seemed to be interested with Esten revealing “it’s in vague stages.” But all seemed very clear that Burnett would have to be an important part of the venture. If there’s any indication about the public wanting to support one, the soundtrack from the show has been a huge hit in iTunes with over a million downloads and within two weeks of the show’s premiere on October 10th, five songs cracked the iTunes Top 5.

Bowen (a classically trained singer) and Palladio (a songwriter/musician) discussed the quick audition process and how they both surprised everyone in the casting session when it was revealed neither is American; she’s Australian and he’s from London. Their characters, Scarlett and Gunnar, seem to be headed towards a romantic connection, given the emotional roller coaster they’re on, but remained silent on any developments. Jackson (Scarlett’s ex-boyfriend Avery), who became a daytime soap star and is also a talented singer/musician, shared a personal story from a few years prior when he wrote down the names of top music producers he’d like to work with, putting Burnett at the top. Dreams do come true.

Go to hulu.com or huluplus.com to see the event and PaleyFest 2013, the two-week celebration of TV’s favorite shows and stars.

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