Friday, June 10, 2016

CMT Officially Revives 'Nashville' for Season 5

After weeks of production company Lionsgate Television aggressively searching for a new home for the drama after ABC's cancellation in early May, Nashville is officially returning for a fifth season on CMT - with Hulu retaining next-day streaming rights. Various reports are confirming that the order for Season 5 is 22 episodes.

The cast of Nashville led by Charles Esten are expected to celebrate the news today with CMT host Cody Alan in a concert in Nashville.

The show's cancellation at ABC was somewhat surprising before the Upfronts. But since then, Lionsgate Television has been aggressively pitching the show to cable networks and streaming services. Kevin Beggs, Chairman of Lionsgate Television Group, and company president Sandra Stern led the effort. The pickup by CMT was rumored to be a strong possibility a few days - though the renewal wasn't done in time to be announced during Wednesday's CMT Music Awards. The deals were able to work out because of the streaming deal with Hulu - which will have every episode of the show available to stream the day after they air on CMT.

The pickup of Nashville continues CMT's push into original scripted programming. The network had a solid preview for new comedy Still the King starring Billy Ray Cyrus following the CMT Music Awards. It makes its regular time slot debut this Sunday at 9/8c. The network also has limited series Million Dollar Quartet set for a launch in November. It's currently unclear when Season 5 of Nashville will debut.

In its fourth season, Nashville starred Connie Britton, Hayden Panettiere, Clare Bowen, Charles Esten, Jonathan Jackson, Sam Palladio, Chris Carmack, Lennon Stella, Maisy Stella, Will Chase and Aubrey Peeples. Most of the cast is still under contracts for multiple seasons, though it's unclear if everyone will make the transition to CMT.

Lionsgate Television had already been planning on Season 5 long before ABC cancelled the show. The studio had formed a writers room led by new showrunners Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick - who are replacing original showrunner Dee Johnson - to pitch ideas for the new season.

"CMT heard the fans. The wave of love and appreciation they have unleashed for Nashville has been overwhelming," said Brian Philips, President of CMT. "Nashville is a perfect addition to our evolving line-up of big music specials, documentaries and original series. We see our fans and ourselves in this show and we will treasure it like no other network. Nashville belongs on CMT."

"Nashville has long been a fan favorite show on Hulu and we are so proud to continue to make new episodes available for fans to stream the day after they air," said Craig Erwich, SVP and Head of Content, Hulu.

"CMT and Hulu are the perfect combination for our iconic and beloved series Nashville and we want to thank the incredible fans for their unwavering support - #Nashies, you helped make this possible," said Kevin Beggs, Chairman of the Lionsgate Television Group. "We also want to extend our appreciation to the State of Tennessee, City of Nashville, and Ryman Hospitality for their unending support. They have been a key ingredient to the continued success of this show and we're thrilled to extend our partnership for a fifth season."

"We always had faith that we would find a way to bring Nashville back to its devoted fans, and we're very proud to be in partnership with CMT and Hulu to extend the life of this series," said Patrick Moran, EVP, ABC Studios.