Nashville Team on Connie's 'Journey' as a Singer, Hayden's Hussy and Reba/Swift Comparisons

ABC president Paul Lee says it’s “gutsy” for Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere to do their own singing as the leads of the new drama Nashville — a sentiment shared by at least one of the actresses.

Appearing at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour in Beverly Hills on Friday, Britton and Panettiere were asked to weigh in on the singing aspect of their roles. Since the Heroes alumna has at least a smidgen of a pop artist background, Britton joked, “I think Connie and Hayden would have very different conversation about the singing. Hayden is a great singer; Connie is having a ‘journey.’ It’s an exciting journey, because it’s a journey with [acclaimed songwriter/producer] T-Bone Burnett. But it’s a journey.”

Britton and Panettiere — who play country music superstars, veteran and shiny-new — addressed the comparisons being made of their characters to Reba McEntire and Taylor Swift. McEntire herself even brought it up with Britton on a plane flight. “I said, ‘No, I had no idea!'” Britton responded to her fellow redhead. The actress then explained to the TCA crowd, “I don’t have any person I’m basing [Rayna James] on.”

Panettiere said she’s heard the Taylor Swift thing “quite a bit,” but “aside from being the same age and blonde — [we're] not even [the same] height! — we’re very different.” Among other things, she quipped, “[Taylor] is much nicer than my character.”

To punctuate that point, Panettiere went on characterize her crooner, Juliette Barnes, thusly: “If you’re sad, you’re broken-hearted, you need a rebound… Juliette is prowling somewhere around the corner.”

Other topics covered during the Nashville panel discussion:

SHE’S DIFFERENT, Y’ALL | Britton said that Rayna James, despite being a strong, Southern-fried beauty, wife and mom, “is actually incredibly different from [Friday Night Lights'] Tami Taylor.” Perhaps most disappointing to hear: “There may not be as many y’alls,” she ventured.

VERY SPECIAL GUESTS? | Exec producer R.J. Cutler said that although you’ll see real Nashville musicians playing back-up in scenes, there will be no real-life superstars popping up on the drama’s canvas: “It’s not a cameo-driven show.”

ITUNE IN TOMORROW! | Speaking of the show’s music — and mind you, most of the original tunes you hear in the pilot are dynamite — series boss Callie Khouri (Thelma & Louise) said, “There will be a soundtrack,” though details are a ways off. Along those lines, Cutler said to expect “a few songs” in each episode, though probably not as many as are in the pilot.

A PERFECT PAIR | On the casting of British Sam Palladio (Episodes) and Aussie Clare Bowen (Home & Away) as a pair of potential lovebirds/wannabe recording artists who exhibit terrific on-screen chemistry, Cutler said, “The second we met them, we knew they were perfect for this. And the night we heard the song [they duet at the close of the pilot], we were bouncing. We couldn’t believe it. When you know it, you know it.”

NASHVILLE VS. NASHVILLE | Though Nashville is shooting on location in the titular town, certain set pieces needed to be recreated on a soundstage, including the iconic listening room The Bluebird Cafe. “You could fall asleep in The [real] Bluebird, wake up on our set and not know the difference,” Cutler boasted.

Watch the Nashville trailer here, then tell us if you plan to tune in:

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25 Comments
  1. AD says:

    It’s actually Reba McEntire, not McIntyre. Have seen that mistake a million times.

  2. Renee says:

    Matt do we get to see Jonathan Jackson singing? He’s had his own band for years. Looking forward to this show.

  3. Jemeg says:

    The trailer looks pretty good! And I knew that was one of my favs from “Whose Line Is It Anyway,” Chip Esten! Had to look it up and I see he is going by Charles for this one. Seems to have a big part – good luck!

  4. Sue says:

    Already planned to watch…but how that I know Jonathan Jackson is on too!!!

  5. Bella says:

    I’m not particularly a fan of Hayden Panetierre, but I love Connie Britton, so I’ll probably give this show a shot.

  6. Bernie says:

    But it’s a show about country music, so why would they compare her to Taylor Swift…?

    • Hannah says:

      Because Taylor is the next generation of country music.

    • Lace says:

      Taylor is known for having catchy songs that can be played on the country and pop stations. That’s probably why there’s been a comparison between Hayden’s character and Taylor Swift. I think Connie Britton and Hayden Panetierre want you to watch the show without confusing fiction for reality. I kind of like that the show isn’t trying to be Glee with all the guest stars.

      • I think it also might be because in one of the extended promos that was released in May, there’s a scene with Hayden’s character in the studio and the producers say something along the lines of “Thank God for Auto-Tune.” And I can’t count how many times I’ve seen/heard people say that Taylor is Auto-Tuned more than most. So there’s that as well.

  7. TV watcher says:

    Just watched the pilot and thought it was pretty great. Looking forward to watching it. Nice three dimensional characters. And I thought everyone sounded pretty good too.

  8. chris says:

    Sorry, but I kind of find this a little too comparable to Reba and Taylor Swift. I mean, yeah the younger artist on this show could’ve been blonde (as most of today’s female artists are in country music), but however, there is only 1 reigning Queen (who just happens to be) a redhead, in which the older artist on this show is played not by a brunette or a blonde, but by a redhead. Both of who are on the same label, like Reba and ms. swift (on sister labels……..managed by the same president- Scott Borchetta)……..who has worked every single #1 hit of Reba’s since the early 90’s. And the only reason radio really doesn’t play Reba as much anymore is because of her age……….which she is younger than George Strait, but he still gets played, as well as Alan Jackson. Sorry, but if this show tries to say they didn’t look at Reba and taylor swift for their “inspiration”, I’m not buying it.

    • Mary says:

      It could just be that Connie Britton and Hayden Panetierre were chosen for their talents and not the color of their hair.

  9. Maria says:

    I will watch this for Eric Close (Without a Trace) and Charles Esten (Whose Line is it Anyway?).

  10. Is it possible that I’m one of few who’s watching this because I’m a country music fan? I’ve actually completely forgotten about the political subplot and kind of hope they gloss over that. Can’t wait for the music and the drama! (P.S. Connie and Hayden both seem like sweethearts in real life.)

  11. Erica says:

    I like Nashville a lot, I take a particular interest in Jonathan Jackson aka Avery Barkley ( aka Mud from Camp Nowhere) lol….I think he needs to go Blonde, if he’s going to continue his career as a solo artist on Nashville. The darker crop, which he presently Rocks, works as a Band look, but he should be Blonde, if he going to gain popularity by himself……not saying this is a rule of thumb, but he looks good Blonde ! …. : ) Hopefully someone sees this with some influence ; )

  12. Kathie says:

    If you haven’t watched the series and want a real taste of the music, go back to the April 30 episode, which is the cast, (minus Connie, who had a scheduling conflict). They are doing a concert featuring many of the iconic songs from the whole series, to date. It’s a great cross-section of the music. Don’t be surprised if you get hooked.

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