The first episode of Nashville series three will feature live performances from the cast, creator Callie Khouri has revealed to RadioTimes.com.
The Academy Award-winning writer and producer of Thelma and Louise confirmed it is the “musical component” which will be broadcast live from the show’s set when the third series kicks off this September.
Khouri, who is set to begin shooting some pre-recorded scenes for the first episode on 17 July, explained that the live performances were inspired by Nashville: On the Record – a series-two episode featuring live performances from cast members including Hayden Panettiere, Charles Esten and Clare Bowen alongside the show’s original songwriters. “That’s what gave us the courage to attempt a live show.”
Khouri is also hoping the live scenes will convince sceptical viewers of the musical ability of her cast, which also includes Connie Britton as country music star Rayna James. “We want people to know what it’s really like. The live music here is such a huge presence in our show that we thought maybe we could find a way to share with the world what that feels like for real.”
The move follows a US concert tour which saw Esten and Bowen joined by Sam Palladio, Jonathan Jackson and Chris Carmack to take to the stage in Chicago, Washington DC, Philadelphia and New York.
“Our cast have been performing a lot in all the music venues, they’re so talented,” said Khouri, explaining she wanted them to sing live “just in case people ever wondered, ‘Are these people really singing? Are they being fixed in a studio afterwards?’ Just to give people the chance to hear how good everybody really is.”
The live scenes will be confined to the first episode and Khouri is already anticipating a stressful evening pulling it off. “It’s a huge thing to take on but I think we’re up to it. Barring some technical, possibly weather-related problem, I think it’s a fun thing to try and do. We’re always looking for new ways to challenge ourselves and just thought this would be really great.”
However, she did concede that the performances are unlikely to take place at Nashville’s prestigious Grand Ole Opry. “I don’t think so. All of these details are not fully worked out because they don’t have to be until we air in September.”
While not a format often used in television, several US series have chosen to broadcast live in the past. Will & Grace, ER and 30 Rock have all aired live episodes while The West Wing featured a live debate between fictional presidential candidates Congressman Matt Santos (played by Jimmy Smits) and Senator Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda) back in 2005.
And whereas live episodes in the UK require one take, in America casts have to telecast a live version for each time zone – one for the West Coast and one for the East.
Nashville returns for a third series in America this September. It is still unclear whether More4 – who broadcast the first two series – will continue to air the show in the UK.
Nashville series two is available to buy on DVD now