ABC's 'Nashville' hits all the right notes
By Jacqueline Cutler
Published: Monday, Oct. 8, 2012, 8:57 p.m.
In the opening scene of ABC's “Nashville,” the soapy drama premiering Wednesday, Rayna James (Connie Britton), hair in pin curls, playfully chases her daughters at home. In the next scene, she's a country star performing at the Grand Ole Opry.
The “Friday Night Lights” and “American Horror Story” actress really is singing, and quite well, as is co-star Hayden Panettiere (“Heroes”), playing the nasty ingenue, Juliette Barnes.
In an interview with Zap2it, the two actresses reflect on singing and why they wanted this show.
In the pilot, Rayna is finishing her set, and Juliette is going on, which sums up their careers at the moment. Although Rayna is more talented, Juliette's star is on the rise. Juliette will stop at nothing to get what she wants, and she wants what Rayna has.
“You have to respect her to a certain degree,” Panettiere says, “She is running from a very dark past.”
Juliette's mother is an addict who constantly begs for money.
“It's important as part of her, as she can be rough round the edges,” Panettiere says.
Expect comparisons to “All About Eve” in that there's an older woman and a younger woman, both after the same career, both wanting to be queen.
Rayna's at a crossroads; the record- company boss demotes her to opening for Juliette on tour, and she declines. After 20 years as a star, she's not done singing.
“I had sung before, but years ago,” Britton says. “Saying I sang semiprofessionally would be overstating it. As an actor, if I am ever going to be able to stretch those muscles — to work with T-Bone Burnett in music and creating a character — this is as good as it gets.”
Burnett, the show's executive music producer, has won 12 Grammys for performing, writing and producing.
In most shows, music is ambient; in “Nashville,” it's central. In a wonderful scene backstage at the Opry, Juliette is introduced to Rayna.
“I know you,” Rayna says to Juliette. “You were burning up out there, girl.”
“I know you,” Juliette retorts. “My momma was one of your biggest fans. She said she'd listen to you when I was still in her belly.”
And the fight is on. But Juliette won't leave it at barbs about age. It's not enough to go after Rayna's perch; Juliette wants the men around Rayna. And Juliette practically purrs at men.
In the pilot, the cast performs at the Opry, not on a set.
“My first day of shooting was at the Opry,” Britton says. “I was so excited to be in this — the chance at the Opry!”
Clearly at home on that stage, Rayna is a woman with a past she prefers hidden and a rocky future.
Her dad, duplicitous businessman Lamar Wyatt (Powers Boothe, “24”), is setting up Rayna's husband, Teddy Conrad (Eric Close, “Without a Trace”), to run for mayor so Dad can control Nashville through his son-in-law.
Rayna had a romance with her guitarist, Deacon Claybourne (Charles Esten, “Enlightened”), and he may well be the father of one of her daughters.
The rich characters are thanks to writer Callie Khouri (“Thelma & Louise”). Even characters introduced in the pilot, such as a cafe waitress, are layered and talented.
“Nashville” creator R.J. Cutler says, “I wanted to find a way to do a contemporary response to (late director Robert) Altman's ‘Nashville.' It was compelling to do a narrative where the city is a main character. I knew I wanted a company town. I wanted to make it music. Then I met Callie.”
And it all fell into place.
Jacqueline Cutler writes for Zap2it.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers bring back long snapper Warren, lineman Wallace
- Surveillance cameras stop working after Pittsburgh fails to pay bill
- Penguins notebook: Letang skating, but no return set
- Orpik rises to occasion as Penguins take down Capitals once again
- Allegheny Co. DA criticizes Peduto administration over info released in E. Liberty murder case
- Panthers free agent safety headed to Steelers
- Fayette jury sentences man to death for fatal beating of 4-year-old boy
- 2 NYC buildings collapse in explosion; 2 dead
- Figure skating coach dies in crash at Washington County Airport
- Police charge Westmoreland County priest in $124,000 theft case
- Philadelphia senator accused of using state employees for campaign