Connie Britton Eyes Early Nashville Exit

Nashville fans, start singing the blues in 3, 2, 1…

Sources confirm to TVLine that Connie Britton is poised to exit the drama’s upcoming fifth season on CMT after appearing in just 10 of 22 episodes. It’s unclear at this time how her character, Rayna James, will be written off the show. EW.com was first to report Britton’s reduced workload.

A source close to the show, meanwhile, tells TVLine that negotiations with the Friday Night Lights vet on the length of her Season 5 commitment are ongoing. (UPDATE: Britton breaks her silence!)

The cancelled ABC country-music drama will make its CMT debut with a two-hour premiere on Thursday, January 5, at 9/8c. As previously reported, Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz (thirtysomething) have taken over as showrunners.

Meanwhile, fellow leading lady Hayden Panettiere, whose character Juliette’s fate was left hanging in the balance in the Season 4 finale, is expected back for all 22 episodes. The same holds true for co-stars Charles Esten, Sam Palladio, Jonathan Jackson, Clare Bowen, Lennon Stella, Maisy Stella and Chris Carmack. Will Chase and Aubrey Peeples, who played Luke and Layla, respectively, will not be back as series regulars.

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156 Comments
  1. Whatevah8 says:

    This is weird.

  2. LK says:

    She’s leaving but her kids are staying? That seems a bit odd.

  3. LT says:

    Good luck with that CMT.

  4. Ram510 says:

    They need to just call this the last season of that’s the case

    • RoseAnn says:

      JUST CANCEL THE SHOW! I WILL NOT WATCH WITHOUT THE FULL CAST. And 1/2 OF THE SHOWS WITH CONNIE? CANCEL CANCEL CANCEL WONT BE THE SAME! SICK OF THE TURMOIL OF HER FAMILY LIFE WITH DEACON AND THE GIRLS AWAY! DEPRESSING SEASON LAST YEAR! CANCEL!

    • Jared says:

      Agreed. I really hope this isn’t true, and maybe there was just a scheduling conflict that won’t allow her to do every episode. I can’t imagine Nashville without Connie. She is the reason I started watching this show in the first place. She is a phenomenal actress. The show just wouldn’t be the same without her.

      • Sara Jensen says:

        I believe she is leaving on her own she is unhappy with Tennessee due to the LBGT

      • Louise Dwinchick says:

        I agree with Jared. I love Connie Britton and the show won’t be the same without her. But I am happy that Nashville will be back in January.(if I can wait that long)!!!!!
        Do Not cancel the show!! This is my favorite show!

    • Andrea says:

      No, they don’t. If Connie wants to do other things, that’s her choice, but I don’t think Nashville needs her. She is not a singer, and this is a musical show. I would/will enjoy a Nashville about Juliette, Avery, Scarlett, Deacon, Gunnar, and Will. Deacon will actually get to do something that doesn’t involve his love life with Rayna. Throw in adorable Cadance, Glenn, and Emily, and I’m perfectly happy. This is a great opportunity.

  5. Michelle says:

    Noooo…. The only way i can imagine her being away from Deacon & the kids is if they kill her off, but i hope that’s not the case. Maybe Rayna can just be away on a world tour for the 2nd half of the season.

  6. Jake L. says:

    Oh good grief. I would have rather it stayed cancelled than have it without its leading lady.

  7. Terri says:

    And here I was so excited it was picked up!!!! There can’t be a show without Rayna!!!

  8. sterling says:

    Yeah if she is leaving they need to revamp the show completely and do a spin off based on up and comers. It isn’t Nashville without her. It is a completely different show.

    • The REAL Nashville music scene has survived the loss of Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, etc., etc. The fictional Nashville music scene will survive without Rayna James.

      • Tracie Vaughn says:

        Amen! :)

      • A fan of TV says:

        Which doesn’t mean a show about the fictional music scene will survive without Rayna, naturally. It won’t. She is the centre of the series and a massive part of its overall draw.

      • sarah t says:

        I agree, I think the show can survive without her (though I think it might work better if they’re able to spread the 10 episodes out over the course of the season so she can be on “tour” or something).
        I like her character but I think at this point they’ve almost done everything they can with her. She and Deacon are together now and I think that (along with her push/pull with Juliette) were big parts of the show. Granted, maybe fresh writers can come up with a different way to use her character and I’m all for that if they do. I just wouldn’t be too disappointed if she really is 10 episodes and out. Hopefully they won’t kill her off though so she can come back and make guest appearances.

      • ellkay says:

        People didn’t tune in weekly to see what will happen next with them. This is apples and oranges. It’s a TV show, and people get hooked on the actors and the story line. Concerts are a whole different ballgame.

      • You are so right!! I just can’t believe these people saying they’d rather see the whole show cancelled! Shreds! What a negative bunch! Nashville will continue to be great even without Rayna.

  9. David4 says:

    I can’t blame her for wanting to leave a sunk ship, but it’s very weird. She seemed very supportive of the new season.

  10. daveedtjr says:

    Then why bother with a new season?
    Wasn’t she the star of the show? Hayden P won’t be able to carry show…IMHO…

    • Jami says:

      Actually Hayden P. is the only reason why I watch Nashville.

      • Tedi says:

        I feel the same way. I am so so on Rayna. Connie is brilliant and gorgeous but I was alway more attentive to Hayden’s character and storylines, which have always felt more authentic and provocative.

        • This. I’m a big Connie Britton fan, but I didn’t love her in this role. And I think she thought she could scoot by with her limited singing skills, but the rest of the cast are all so good, her lack of singing ability stands out. I look forward to her moving on to something else more suited to her.

          • luv2cook says:

            Yepper, I am with you. I love Connie Britton but let’s face it, she was basically phoning it in most of season 4. As long as Hayden stays put, I am good to go.

    • iHeart says:

      that’s what I’m thinking too, if she was planning on leaving then why bring her back when she’s the star (yes I am very well aware that several shows have survived without their stars, but then again Two and a Half Men didn’t try very hard)

    • Dude says:

      Hayden HAS been carrying the show for four seasons now.

      • CeeCee says:

        I disagree, I hardly missed her while she was gone. Bad girl was one thing, but the leaving the baby storyline and wilding was horrible.

  11. Mary says:

    Interesting, I don’t think the show will do as well if she leaves for good but at least 10 episodes is better than nothing for this year. Let’s see how they work this.

  12. Luis says:

    I’d have said plane crash, but they’ve been there and done that, haven’t they?

  13. nmitchell58 says:

    Really hate to hear that. I don’t understand why she would agree to come to CMT for the 5th season only to leave half way through it. Makes no sense. I guess we will see how her departure from the series will play out. I will keep watching no matter if she does leave for as long as the show remains on

  14. A. D. says:

    Well then just killer her off and have her kids go as well. Start looking for a strong female lead who can sing.

    • Why? The kids are entertaining and very talented, I think most people enjoy them being a part of the show, I certainly do. And Maddie is older now so there’s lots they can do with her character.

  15. Well, I hope that this news does not sink the “Nashville” cruise for everyone else.

  16. Shannon says:

    CMT should just do 10 episodes of Nashville, give it a good ending and then be done. I can’t really imagine Nashville without Rayna.

  17. Mary Kay Martindale says:

    There is no Nashville without Connie Britton!

  18. MMD says:

    Why even bother to pick the show up if Rayna is going to leave. I do recall that some of the people on the show and she was one, had an issue with an LGBTQ law/act/provision that went into effect or was going to and some stated that they didn’t know if they would continue in the new environment as they were against whatever the hell it was. I can’t remember the specifics but I do remember that Connie Britton was very vocal about it. That could be a reason and if it is, I admire her for standing her ground. I don’t like that she is leaving but admire her principles.


    Anybody else remember what the issue was? I remember I thought it was homophobic and just shook my head.

    • sterling says:

      Tennessee is one of the states that have enacted laws to prevent protections being extended to LGBT and also the so called “potty laws” that target Trans people by saying they cannot use the bathroom of the gender they express but must use one that matched their DNA.

    • Sarah says:

      The issue was a law that said that therapists could deny help to LGBTQ people based on religious beliefs. It’s a ridiculous law and like you, I commend Connie for sticking to her principles, if that’s the reason she’s leaving.

      • MMD says:

        Thanks Sterling and Sarah. Those are issues that just don’t seem to come up in Canada and I can’t keep track of all the human rights battles that go on south of the border as every state seems to be different.

    • Susan says:

      Really this is about a show! Why bring up politics…..separate issues, not sure why based on that she would leave the show altho it centers around Nashville…to me it centers around rising stars, not so much the town….HOWEVER maybe they should write it INTO the show and make people more aware, great platform for it especially with Wills sexuality

  19. IceTear1 says:

    Would be kind of end of the show if Rayna leaves!

  20. J says:

    is she appearing in only 10 of 22 episodes or only the first 10 of 22? I could see it working with her being in the whole season, just spread out. but only the first 10 of 22 and killing her off? Just shut the show down now.

    • Robberey says:

      Yeah, you’re right. That’s quite a difference. But they say “leaving”. But this is possible for the end of the season too. It worked without Penetriere in season 4 too.

  21. Phil says:

    While I think having three central characters pivoting around a character who should be there but isn’t, isn’t ideal, Rayna is by far my least favorite character and has been for almost the length of the show.
    When we lost Hayden, and Juliette’s peripheral characters had nothing to do, it hurt the show. I don’t want to repeat that situation again.
    But, there are always world tours, and I wouldn’t be sad to see Rayna go off and do one, to be the superstar character we are told she is, but rarely see.

  22. A fan of TV says:

    So CMT bought a show that’s gonna air for one more year. Wonder if they knew that Button had one foot out the door when they picked it up in the first place. I knew she sounded on social media like the Big 5 network cancellation of the show meant she, too, was done…and honestly with her talents I don’t blame her. But Nashville with no Rayna is not remotely worth it.

  23. Becca C. says:

    Focus more on the younger cast and the music and it’ll be fine. The gang that goes on tour every summer? The ones putting out actual records and playing at the Opry on a semi-regular basis. That’s the heart of the show. I’m not going to fret over losing auto-tuned Rayna so long as Avery, Gunnar, Juliette, Scarlett, Will and Deaco are still around.

  24. Jared says:

    This announcement makes the Nashville renewal pointless if Connie is leaving. I know the show has a sizable ensemble cast but I almost feel like why even bother.

  25. Paloma says:

    In a surprise twist, Juliette Barnes survives an emergency landing in a field only to find out that Rayna James, Luke Wheeler andLayla Grant were killed when his plane went down on the way to a charity event in Dallas. There were no survivors.

  26. This is Castle level stupid.

    Good luck with that Nashville. You did see how that worked out for Castle, right?

  27. Irene gillette says:

    I iove this show and when Iheard it was first cancelled I was upset. Then I heard it was going to be back, but on CMT a station I did not have. I contacted my cable company and had it added to my viewing list. I am looking forward to season five and maybe Connie Britton will stay on as Rayna.

  28. sarah j says:

    I guess Connie isn’t getting enough money! I don’t see how the show will work with her gone. I guess it “worked” when Hayden was gone….will be interesting to see what happens.

  29. Doris says:

    Connie, please do not leave the show…….it is your show!

  30. Exe says:

    Connie’s talents are better spent elsewhere. I adore her, and she’s done a great job with Rayna… But considering she is not a singer – at least in comparison to the majority of the rest of the cast – her skills are somewhat wasted. I support her leaving, especially if she can get some meaty roles in Ryan Murphy’s endless anthology shows. The woman deserves some awards that Nashville won’t get her.

  31. RoseAnn says:

    I’m disgusted about Connie Britton only being in half of the shows. Also, Luke and Layla not returning! I will watch something new. You finally get her and deacon together & nothing I mean nothing but, confusion. Gets old. Good luck ! Losing me is just A drop in the bucket of no importance. 😭😭

    • ellkay says:

      It might explain why their marriage is already rocky. I mentioned earlier that her departure could be suicide for Nashville. Killing off (or however they exit the main characters) never has good results for the ratings.

      I like Luke, but not a fan of Layla’s character. I won’t miss her.

  32. Kathy says:

    why bring back the show if she can’t commit to the entire season. Sadly I don’t think the show will make it past season 5.

  33. ellkay says:

    It won’t be “Nashville” if the main character is no longer there. WHY is she leaving? This may be suicide for “Nashville”, unfortunately :( :(

  34. Ann Marie says:

    Hayden can carry the show with no problem. It’s not like other shows haven’t carried on without some of the main characters. Nashville will be just fine without Connie. I’m just glad they are giving the show a 5th season.

    • Ben says:

      Hayden can carry A show by herself, but I don’t think she can carry THIS show by herself – Rayna is the sun around which the entire rest of the show orbits.

  35. Brigid says:

    IF she goes, so do I. I mean seriously, she is the only normal character on that show, everyone is so whiny or hot headed. Rayna keeps everyone else grounded, otherwise its just a bad soap opera. Come on!!!

  36. Flinkman says:

    I’m actually not upset about this…the Reyna-Deacon-kids drama has been the most BORING storyline on the show for years now. I always found Juliette and the secondary cast of Gunar-Scarlett-Will to be more interesting. If they’re all staying, I’m good with this.

    Not to mention….Connie Briton can’t sing. It was always hard to buy her as the queen of country with a voice like that.

  37. NASHVILLE will not be the same without Rayma James…please don’t let Deacon go too.

    • Grubs says:

      As much as I like Connie, not much one can do if she really wants to leave. Perhaps they can have a chat with REBA see if she wants to do another TV series????

  38. ToyCannon says:

    Worst news ever. The 2016/2017 TV season is officially ruined.

  39. Doug Henning says:

    I really don’t see a huge problem… The best thing about Nashville is the music and frankly she was not the best… Other actors were more talented… I don’t think they’ll kill her off but maybe maybe have on tour checking in every few weeks… that being said, not sure what they could do about the girls unless Teddy gets out of prison… Certainly will miss CB as an actress but it’s a soap and actors change..

  40. Raymond says:

    Since she was the lead in the first (and best) season of American Horror Story, perhaps she’ll return there next year…

  41. Ben says:

    Better that they found a way to make her 10 episodes include the end of the season and wrapped it up. How sad.

  42. Renee White says:

    I will never understand why these people leave a hit show, most that do are barely if ever heard from again.

    • Ben says:

      Connie Britton has been on many hit shows, and is more or less beloved. Chances of her ‘never being heard of again’ seem pretty slim.

  43. Drew says:

    I don’t think that this is a bad thing. Connie was the weakest link. She was horribly miscast as the queen of country music, while all of her songs sound more auto-tuned than most teenage pop stars.
    Add to that the fact that she shouldn’t be representing a show named for a place that she has no love or respect for (due to their politics) and it makes more sense for her to leave than to stay. They should find someone really talented who can not only sing, but who can really represent the country music culture. It is CMT after all.

  44. I’m a big fan of the show but I must admit that I use my remote when the kids (Maddie especially) are on. Country Music fans are typically more conservative people who don’t like or tolerate brats. The writers turned those kids into brats, brought in non country music artists (Steven Tyler, Elton John, Christina Aguilara, etc, and as such lost a lot of their fan base. It would be better to lessen Rayna’s role and spread it out over the whole season than to write her out of the show. Just saying….

    • A fan of TV says:

      I’d counter that conservatives don’t tolerate much of anything unless it’s their own ideas. The whole thing about conservatism is a knee-jerk reaction to change or to progress.

  45. iakovos says:

    Would like to see Rayna become a power record exec and producer, involved in machinations of her family and favorite talents as FALCON CREST’s Angela Channing was. She does not need to be front and center in every plot and in every episode. Just give her one strong thread. Make twists pivot on her and give her best lines.

    I sense Miss Britton is not happy with NASHVILLE. I think ABC forced changes after the first season with which she did not agree. I never thought the show did enough with Rayna and Juliette as solid frenemies. They were kept apart too much. I do have faith the CMT iteration will be stronger, especially with the new showrunners. I loved THIRTYSOMETHING and ONCE & AGAIN. They know good drama.

    • IceTear1 says:

      That´s why I wonder this, since show seems to be going with new showrunners on direction she has said in interviews she hoped the show would be…

  46. JG says:

    Might as well cancel the show if Connie is leaving. What else or should I say who else?

  47. CHERYL R. GAY says:

    THANKS FOR THE HEADS UP!!!! I WONT BE LOOKING AT “NASHVILLE.”

  48. Sara Jensen says:

    Not surprised she did not want to be in Nashville anymore because of the LBGT but the show will go on. I believe it was her choice and we must respect it.

  49. RD says:

    New writers,new focus. Sounds ok to me. There’ll be plenty to keep us entertained with less Rayna,believe me.

  50. Vi says:

    Wow can’t believe how many people are saying cancel. So Connie Britton may leave, so many people yell cancel. First, you do realize you can change the channel? You don’t want to watch without her, then don’t. But to yell cancel, that puts many people out of a job. But I guess that doesn’t matter cuz you’ll be happy. I love this show, love the music and would be sad to see it go. I am willing to give it a chance if Connie chooses to leave. You aren’t? Don’t watch, but don’t wish a show cancelled only to put many other talented people out of jobs, that’s just selfish. People choose to leave shows, I am sad to see them go but it’s their choice and the other actors, and all the other people working behind the scene shouldn’t be punished cuz you’d rather have the show cancelled than to pick up your remote and change the channel. WOW

    • Sara Jensen says:

      I agree with you 100 percent . I believe it is her choice to leave and I will watch the show every week. She is not happy in Nashville due to her beliefs she is a well liked character but the show will go on. If I stopped watching a show because one of my favorites left I would have nothing to watch.