The new ABC series “Nashville” premiered at PaleyFest March 8 and showed how it has developed a devoted following of television viewers who also appreciate music. In fact, the soundtrack from Nashville is now ranked Number One on the Country Music Charts of iTunes. Just after the presentation, “A Prairie Home Companion” broadcast from Minnesota with a good explanation -- that music has the special magic to take listeners to a completely different place.
The combination of a thematic focus on music and the sound decision to produce and record the series on location in Nashville rather on a studio back lot has inspired a new level of artistic creativity. The founders of the “Academy of Television Arts & Sciences” had this in mind as one of the long term goals of the television industry. The first season success of “Nashville” is helping to make it a reality.
The producers’ high standards for authenticity included customizing a stage at a former retail warehouse. This is combined with special effects of actual footage from concerts at Nashville’s own Bridgestone Arena.
Learning from experts has also been an important part of getting “Nashville” to the top of the Country Music charts. The cast and crew have surrounded themselves with veteran touring company musicians who have excellent intuition regarding every aspect of a live performance or sound studio recording.
The writer and creator of "Nashville," Callie Khouri, lived and worked in Nashville early in her own career, giving her a sixth sense for making the program’s scenes authentic. As Khouri explained to the audience of fans at PaleyFest, she does not sing or play an instrument herself. But in years of being around musicians in Nashville, on and off the stage, she was able to absorb a lot of the creative energy. This phenomenon has also enabled a creative transformation for series star Hayden Panettiere. The long-time New Yorker honed her acting skills as a model cheerleader. Performing as a country music star on "Nashville" is an entirely new challenge for an aspiring actress, but mastering this kind of challenge is showing how even the most accomplished television talents can discover new horizons.
PaleyFest is concluding today, but the Paley Center for Media will continue showing recordings of thousands of television series episodes in its video library all year round. Visitors can also visit an exhibition of historic television memorabilia and groups can arrange for large screen presentations in the style of PaleyFest at the Paley Center for Media auditorium.