By Steve Buchanan
Executive Producer of NASHVILLE and President, Grand Ole Opry Group
Yes, we have our characters and our wild childs—George Jones, Tanya Tucker and Mindy McCready pop to mind. And brilliantly talented but tortured figures who died tragically young—Hank Williams, Keith Whitley and Gram Parsons for instance—are indelibly ingrained in our story.
But when it comes to sensational, out-of-control, full-blown twitter frenzies and YouTube blow-ups, Nashville ranks pretty low on the scandal scale. We’re not necessarily lacking in juicy gossip, rumor-sharing and eyebrow raising behavior; we just know how to keep it in the family.
Nashville has often been referred to as a big small town, and even as the Tennessee Titans introduced our Batman building to Monday Night Football viewing audiences, Nashville is still a place where even the biggest celebrities in all fields of the entertainment business can keep as low a profile as they want, while also being meaningfully involved in the community.
Nashville is the kind of place that prides itself on being friendly and welcoming, while giving the celebs in our midst breathing room to live their lives, nurture relationships and raise their kids. We’re the perfect staging ground of the magazine feature “Stars—They’re just like us!” ‘They pick up pet supplies!’ ‘They take out the trash!’ ‘They get caught in the rain!’ ‘They go on playdates!’ In Nashville, they do all of that—and more. Here, they go to the grocery store, where they’re not asked for their autograph but what they’re making with the eggplant and peppers in their cart. They take a yoga class, visit the zoo with their kids, dig through bins of vinyl at Grimey’s, catch a foreign film at the Belcourt Theatre, a show at the Mercy Lounge or a concert at the Ryman, have breakfast at the Pancake Pantry, lunch at Burger Up and dinner at City House—all without being trailed by paparazzi. It is a combination of good manners and Southern hospitality that make our big small town a comfortable and easy home for everyone from Kings of Leon to Nicole Kidman, from Jack White to the Black Keys, from Sheryl Crow to Taylor Swift.
Since Nashville began shooting here, the cast and crew has assimilated seamlessly into the rhythm and beat of the city, whether in the audience at the Bluebird, picking out produce at the Farmer’s Market, backstage at the Opry, hiking Radnor Lake Nature Preserve or shopping at Hank’s granddaughter Holly Williams’ boutique H. Audrey.
Three new characters make their debut on Nashville this episode.
One is the perfect example of the new breed of talent migrating here these days. Acclaimed producer/artist Liam McGuinnis [Michiel Huisman] has built his fame and edgy reputation in the rock world, earning a few Grammy’s for his shelves and platinum records to hang on the wall. Now he has moved to Music City and with the go-ahead from her label head to record a new album, Rayna tells her manager Bucky she wants a meeting with him. They track Liam down and after a few shots of whiskey in his studio/bachelor pad, Rayna persuades him to help make her new again too. Musically speaking.
When Juliette—still smarting from the hit she took after her shoplifting incident was YouTubed by a couple of teenage girls—gets choir boy rookie quarterback Sean Butler [Tilky Montgomery Jones] in a fix on an impulsive trip to South Beach where they are ambushed by a sneaky photographer, she takes matters into her own hands. Exchanging a sizeable check for the evidence from the photog before sending him back to Miami, she hopefully secures the Nashville border from trouble-seeking paps for a while longer. Weighing the benefits of getting to know one another out of the public eye, Sean suggests that the next time they go out, they stay in.
Breaking bad is the episode’s third new character, manager/predator Marilyn Rhodes [Rya Kihlstedt], who sets her sights on desperate Avery, ruthlessly pursuing Scarlett’s on-the-verge-of-ex-boyfriend as a ‘client.’ This obviously isn’t the morally-challenged Ms. Rhodes’ first rodeo, as Deacon alludes in a bitter conversation at the Bluebird, overheard by Gunnar, who reveals it to Scarlett, who runs to Deacon, who confirms his sinister insinuations on Marilyn, who ultimately succeeds in luring Avery into her lair late one fateful night. Perfectly entangled.
One of the most enduring and covered country classics of all time is the 1973 hit first recorded by Charlie Rich, “Behind Closed Doors.” It won CMA and ACM Song of the Year trophies for writer Kenny O’Dell and Single of the Year for Rich, who also nabbed a Grammy for Best Male Country Performance. It is ranked at #9 in CMT’s 100 Greatest Songs of Country Music.
Like the best country music, it tells the truth: “When we get behind closed doors/And she lets her hair hang down/ And she makes me glad that I’m a man/Oh no one knows/ What goes on behind closed doors.”
We know. And in upcoming episodes, we’ll keep peeking behind Nashville’s closed doors.
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