Viacom’s Music Group Sheds Jobs At CMT In Nashville As Part Of Ongoing Integration Effort

Read on: Deadline.

With CMT being integrated into the Music Group (MTV, VH1, CMT, Logo), the Viacom network is eliminating several positions in the Nashville operations of CMT.
Deadline has learned that the effort to streamline departments such as scheduling, communicati…

Layoffs Strike CMT as Part of Reorg: Heads of Marketing and Nashville Office Both Let Go

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Layoffs struck CMT on Wednesday as part of a company reorg, TheWrap has learned. Anthony Barton, the head of CMT marketing, and Suzanne Norman, the head of its Nashville office, are among those out.

A number of employees — we’re told in the double digits — had their positions eliminated today, with the majority of the job cuts coming in the former Country Music Television’s marketing department. Other departments hit include music, scheduling, communications and events, as the groups move toward full integration into Viacom’s music group, which also houses MTV, VH1 and Logo.

A “significant” number of employees in those departments will remain, a network insider told us. The restructuring is for growth potential and is not unlike what MTV went through a few years ago.

Also Read: CMT Orders Nashville Version of ‘Hollywood Squares’ (Exclusive)

Chris McCarthy, the president of MTV, VH1, Logo and CMT, sent the below memo to his staff today:

Hi everyone,
We have made great progress over the last couple of years to fully harness the creative power of our collective group.
By integrating our departments across brands, removing silos and developing best-in-class creative teams, we are building a stronger group together.
Today, we are taking the next step – as we finalize the integration of CMT with a new, simplified structure.  Moving forward, the CMT marketing, music, scheduling, communications and event production teams will be fully integrated within our group, under our existing unified leadership team. Several CMT leads will be taking on expanded roles working across all of our brands, particularly in partnership marketing and event production.
Unfortunately, however, this new structure does mean some hard changes. A number of our CMT marketing colleagues will be leaving including Anthony Barton, the head of CMT marketing, and Suzanne Norman, the head of our Nashville office.
Suzanne and Anthony are passionate champions for the CMT brand and we are very grateful for their many years of dedication. Without them, and many of our CMT colleagues, it would not be as strong as it is today. Please join me in thanking them and wishing everyone continued success.
The heart and soul of CMT is our music programming, tentpoles and deep connection to Nashville – which will be at the center of CMT’s growth plan forward. Through increased programming and events, we will further amplify Nashville and its thriving country music scene. More to come on this shortly.
Thank you for your continued support as we transform our group and the company for the future.
Best,
Chris

Also Read: Lionsgate Lays Off 20 More Staffers

The Nashville office will remain the center for CMT as the channel doubles down on branding around the Tennessee city. The Viacom-owned cable channel is going hard on country music, and fans of that strategy can expect more content — including tentpole series — to be announced in the coming weeks.

Last week, Paramount Network (which is also owned by Viacom, as is VH1) announced that it was taking the “Wife Swap” revival off of CMT’s plate — err, slate.

Keith Cox, president of development of Paramount Network and (Viacom’s) TV Land, who developed “Wife Swap” for CMT, pushed to keep it with him at Paramount Network after CMT moved out of their network group, an insider said. The series will debut on the Paramount Network Thursday, April 4. Get more info — and a trailer — here.

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CMT Orders Nashville Version of ‘Hollywood Squares’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

CMT has ordered new game show “Nashville Squares,” which is a spinoff of VH1’s “Hip Hop Squares,” TheWrap has learned exclusively. Both are essentially music star-centric remakes of the old “Hollywood Squares.”

The former Country Music Television has greenlit 10 episodes of its new game show. “Nashville Squares,” which is a working title, is slated for summer.

“Nashville Squares” hails from Jesse Collins Entertainment, the same production company behind “Hip Hop Squares.” On both shows, contestants rely on celebrity help to win money playing a giant tic-tac-toe game.

Also Read: ‘Wife Swap’ Revival Moves From CMT to Paramount Network Ahead of Premiere

As evidenced by this order and other recent moves, CMT is really leaning into the whole Nashville, Tennessee scene. The Viacom-owned cable channel is doubling down on music, and fans of that strategy can expect more content — including tentpole series — to be announced in the coming weeks.

Last week, Paramount Network (which is also owned by Viacom, as is VH1) announced that it was taking the “Wife Swap” revival off of CMT’s plate — err, slate.

Keith Cox, president of development of Paramount Network and (Viacom’s) TV Land, who developed “Wife Swap” for CMT, pushed to keep it with him at Paramount Network after CMT moved out of their network group, an insider said. The series will debut on the Paramount Network Thursday, April 4. Get more info — and a trailer — here.

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‘Nashville’ to Be Adapted as a Broadway Musical

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Break out your square-dancing shoes, urban cowboys: TV series “Nashville” is being adapted into a Broadway musical with Scott Delman set to produce. The stage show will be Lionsgate’s first-ever Broadway production — the studio plans to do more like adaptations with some of its other intellectual property.

“‘Nashville,’ with its complex, relatable characters and sweeping emotional gestures, has all of the narrative elements that I look for in great theatrical source material. From that rich DNA, we will be building an original story with entirely original music, written by major Nashville and Broadway songwriters,” Delman, the president of Blue Spruce Productions, said on Tuesday. “We are particularly excited to deliver Broadway’s first score of true contemporary country music – a genre that has exploded with mainstream audiences in recent years. Lionsgate has a treasure-trove of sterling IP, and I’m honored to be a part of this new phase of their live entertainment division.”

Tony-winner Delman has served as producer or co-producer on 55 Broadway productions, including the musicals “American Idiot,” “Ragtime,” “Book of Mormon,” “Hello, Dolly!,” “Fun Home” and “Mean Girls.”

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“‘Nashville’ represents a unique opportunity to collaborate with Tony Award-winning producer Scott Delman to bring one of our most beloved properties to the stage in our first-ever Broadway production,” added Jenefer Brown, Lionsgate SVP, Global Live & Location Based Entertainment. “It kicks off an exciting slate of iconic Lionsgate properties that we will be bringing to a variety of platforms, transforming them into events that will expand the viewing experience for their fans and take our already successful live entertainment business to the next level.”

The musical’s full creative team and production dates will be announced at a later time.

“Nashville” aired for six seasons on ABC and CMT.

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‘Wife Swap’ Revival: CMT Sets February Debut for Reality Series’ Return to TV

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

CMT announced its winter programming lineup Wednesday, which included the premiere date for the “Wife Swap” revival that the network has dubbed, “the greatest and most successful televised social experiment of our time.”

Per the cabler, each episode of the CMT revival of the docuseries (which originally ran from 2004-2010 on ABC) will feature two families from different walks of life who switch spouses and slowly learn to embrace their differences to come together and find common ground.

Along with “Wife Swap,” the CMT’s Thursday night winter primetime block will include “Racing Wives,” an hour-long unscripted series that follows the opulent world of the wives of top race car drivers including Kurt and Kyle Busch, which will premiere Thursday, Jan. 3 at 9/8c, and season two of the docuseries “Music City,” from creator of the “The Hills,” which will air at 10/9c.

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“Wife Swap” will make its triumphant return to television for a 10-episode season on Thursday, Feb. 28 at 9/8c.

Here’s the revival’s official description: The one-hour, 10-episode series spotlights families from different geographical and social backgrounds that swap spouses; showcasing hot-button issues like politics, classism, gender and race with the end goal of everyone finding common ground. During each switch, the new spouses must at first adhere to exactly the same rules and lifestyle of the spouses being replaced, only to later establish their own rules. At the end, the two couples meet for the first time, where they discuss what they learned from the swap and what changes and new rules will remain once they return home.

“Wife Swap” is produced by Banijay Studios North America with David Goldberg, Caroline Baumgard, Ted Iredell, Perry Dance, and John Platt as executive producers.

Also Read: ‘Wife Swap’ Revival Gets 10-Episode Order at CMT

“We’ve created a stellar line-up of new and returning originals that are dynamic, sexy and fueled by the perfect mix of drama and comedy,” said Keith Cox, president of development and original programming for Paramount Network, CMT and TV Land. “‘Racing Wives’ offers a first-ever look inside the affluent and exclusive private lives of race car drivers. ‘Music City’ is fiery and boiling over with raw emotion, and Wife Swap is a huge international hit that’s relevant now more than ever.”

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Country Music Dials Down on Girl Power as Nashville’s Women Find Even Fewer Slots

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Loretta. Dolly. Tammy. Reba. Faith. Shania. The Chicks. When we think of the all-time greats of country music, or the genre’s biggest sellers, gender parity isn’t a question; if anything, history has been on more of a first-name basis with the women th…

Loretta Lynn to Receive Lifetime Honor on All-Femme ‘CMT Artists of the Year’ Show

Read on: Variety.

Country pioneer Loretta Lynn and her movie doppelgänger Sissy Spacek will reunite in Nashville next month when the actress presents Lynn with an “Artist of a Lifetime” award for the annual “CMT Artists of the Year” telecast. The…

CMT Renews ‘Music City’ for Season 2, Orders New Reality Show ‘Racing Wives’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

CMT has renewed “Music City” for a second season, when it will be paired with new reality show “Racing Wives” — an eight-episode unscripted series about the women married to famous racecar drivers.

The freshman series follows sisters-in-law Ashley and Samantha Busch, married to Kurt and Kyle Busch; Whitney Ward Dillion, former cheerleader and now wife of Austin Dillon; and Amber Balcaen, an aspiring NASCAR driver who is new to the racing community.

“Racing Wives” is set to premiere in early 2019, which is also when “Music City” returns.

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“Music City,” the documentary-style series from “The Hills” creator Adam DiVello, follows a group of young adults chasing dreams of success, fame and romance in Nashville. Returning cast members include fledgling musician Kerry and his wife, Rachyl; personal trainer Jackson, and his pageant queen cousin, Alexandra; and musicians Jessica and Alisa.

They’ll be joined by Rachyl and Kerry’s old friend Jeremiah; Kerry’s new manager Tori; Jackson’s childhood friend Stephen; and Alexandra’s loud and opinionated friend Molly.

“Racing Wives” is produced by T Group with executive producers Jenny Daly, Rob Lobl, and Ben DeNoble. “Music City” is produced by Done and Done Productions in association with Lionsgate. DiVello is creator and executive producer.

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‘Nashville’ Creator on Weinstein-Esque Storyline: ‘It Would Have Been Wrong Not to Deal With It’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Warning: There are spoilers ahead for the series finale of “Nashville.”

The storyline with Alannah (Rainee Blake) and Brad Maitland (Jeffrey Nordling) in the final season of “Nashville” is one showmakers could have told at any point in the series, creator Callie Khouri told TheWrap in a recent interview ahead of Thursday’s series finale.

The plotline is very similar to the stories told by Harvey Weinstein accusers: Brad, who runs Shiny New Records, signs Alannah and then expects her to do him “favors” in return for things like booking her as the opening act for The Lumineers. When Alannah clarifies that she’s not romantically or sexually interested in Brad, her opening act mysteriously falls through.

“That’s not a new story in music, just at all,” Khouri said. “That’s a story we could have told at any point during the season, but wasn’t exactly a direct response to [the Weinstein stories]. We could have done that any time.”

Also Read: She’s Baaack?!? Connie Britton Appears to Show Up at the End of ‘Nashville’ Final Trailer (Video)

Khouri added that she and show scribes were writing the storyline with Brad and Alannah “concurrently” with the Weinstein story as it unfolded, but “it wasn’t like ‘oh my god all of this stuff is happening right now, we have to do a storyline about it.’” 

Khouri said that like Hollywood, in the music industry — no matter the genre — there’s often an implicit expectation that women are there to please the men.

It had been a story I’d heard from female artists over the years, of just like, you know, these gross guys kind of telling you that if you want to get your record on the radio, you know, what are you going to do for me?” she said. 

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Yeah, just female artists of all genres, whether it be rock or jazz or anything, kind of being told, look, the most important thing is for you to be f—able, and if you are, you’ve still got a shot, and if you’re not, you know, forget it,” Khouri continued. “That’s so demoralizing to women.” 

In “Nashville,” Alannah manages to audio record Brad admitting that if she doesn’t sleep with him, she’ll never work again, and uses that as leverage to convince Brad to sell Shiny New to Deacon (Charles Esten). She also rallies several other women that Brad harassed over the years who are willing to share their story, too.

Khouri said that while they were able to serve some justice on the show, harassment is “such a part of [female artists’] experience that it would have been wrong not to deal with it.”

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‘Nashville’ Creator Tells Us All About That Surprise Finale Cameo: ‘So Perfect’

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Warning: There are spoilers ahead for the series finale of “Nashville.”

You bet your sweet ass that was real, honey.

Connie Britton made an emotional cameo as Rayna Jaymes in the series finale of “Nashville” on Thursday after leaving the show in Season 5 to star in the first season of “9-1-1.” TheWrap caught up with series creator Callie Khouri ahead of the finale, who said that ending the series without its former leading lady just didn’t feel right.

We wanted to bring her back, just because, you know, nobody felt good about ending the show without her, I think that includes her,” Khouri told TheWrap of Britton’s surprise appearance in the final moments of the series finale. Khouri added that planning Britton’s cameo was a game of will-it-or-won’t-it happen: “She was doing the other show at the time and so it was all just a matter of, like, scheduling.”

Also Read: She’s Baaack?!? Connie Britton Appears to Show Up at the End of ‘Nashville’ Final Trailer (Video)

“There was a lot of like, ‘Oh my god, it’s gonna work, it’s not gonna work, it’s gonna work, it’s not gonna work,’ all the way up to the end. And then when it finally did, it worked out so that she would be there on the last day of shooting, which was so perfect,” Khouri recalled. 

Britton appears in one of the final scenes, where Deacon (Charles Esten) is in his dressing room before taking the stage. He closes his eyes, and suddenly Rayna comes out of the bathroom, telling him “You bet your sweet ass this is real, honey, and I got the ring to prove it.”

Deacon gets confidence from the memory of Rayna, and then on stage experiences a change of heart toward his estranged father Gideon (Ronny Cox) and invites him on stage. Slowly, the rest of the cast joins them in song: Lennon and Maisy Stella, Clare Bowen, Sam Palladio, Jonathan Jackson, Chris Carmack, Hayden Panettiere and Connie Britton, along with the crew. The camera then pans out, and Khouri takes the stage to thank “The city of Nashville, the beautiful people of Nashville, this incredible cast and crew, the family that we’ve made, and may we all have a life that’s good. That’s a wrap.”

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“Rayna got to do the impossible. She got to come back from the dead,” Britton said in a statement to TheWrap of Rayna’s finale return. “I got to do the most wonderful, which was to go back to my Nashville family and celebrate all the hard work and love and care that went into that show. Being on the Ryman stage, reunited with 6 years of cast and crew, is a moment I’ll cherish and never forget. I am grateful.”

I just felt like, you know, this is a really beautiful way to say goodbye to everybody and to also thank all our fans — for everybody to get a chance to thank our fans,” Khouri said of the show’s final moments that included her own appearance. She added that the series’ fans “were the reason we lasted as long as we did.” The musical drama aired on ABC for four seasons and then moved to CMT for its final two seasons.  

Although the series is over, Khouri said she hopes it leaves a lasting impression on the country music industry.

One of the things I heard probably more than anything else was, ‘I didn’t know I liked country music.’ More people said that to me — ‘I thought I hated country music and then I saw your show, and I realized I love country music,’” Khouri said. She thinks that’s because the country music on the show was of a different genre than the pop-country “pickup trucks and cut-offs” variety. 

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We were doing the kind of country music… Americana music… that [wasn’t] on the radio, that not everybody could hear unless you kind of know what to look for and listen for,” Khouri told TheWrap. “I think we just kind of put a different face on what people thought country music was.”

Khouri added that “Nashville” was female artist-heavy during a period when country music was dominated by men. It still is, though Khouri pointed out that newer female artists like Maren Morris and Kacey Musgraves are making an “impact” now.

It was good to be able to do something that otherwise wasn’t going to get out,” she said. 

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‘Nashville’ Series Finale: Creator Callie Khouri On Emotional Ending, Big Return, Spinoff And Deacon & Juliette’s Future

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SPOILER ALERT: The story includes details about the series finale of Nashville. 
Nashville tonight wrapped its six-season run — four on ABC and two on CMT —  with an eventful finale that featured the return (in a flashback) of the beloved R…

‘Nashville’ Finale Trailer: Get Ready to Say Goodbye (Video)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

How will it end?

That’s the question we’re asking ourselves, and the question that’s posed in the final trailer for the “Nashville” series finale next week.

In the trailer, we’re teased with several storylines that need to be settled. Will Brad really sell Shiny New Records? Will Daphne win “Nashville’s Next Champion”? Will Avery and Juliette work things out? Who does Deacon see at the end? We. Need. To. Know. Especially if that shadowy figure that Deacon sees is who we think it is.

Also Read: She’s Baaack?!? Connie Britton Appears to Show Up at the End of ‘Nashville’ Final Trailer (Video)

CMT’s official logline for the episode hints at answers to these questions: “Deacon can’t forgive Gideon and gets an opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream. Juliette makes a decision about her future. Daphne prepares for the final round of Nashville’s Next. Alannah confronts Brad. Avery, Gunnar, and Will discuss the future.”

While we can’t wait for the finale to see how everything wraps up, it’s bittersweet after six seasons of love, loss and of course, country music.

The series finale of “Nashville” airs Thursday, July 26 on CMT at 9 p.m.

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