Nashville Season 5 Preview Connie Britton

Nashville Season 5: New Boss Promises 'Less Adrenaline, More Emotion'

When Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick were first approached about taking over showrunning duties at Nashville, “I had never watched it,” Herskovitz says, chuckling sheepishly.

He quickly caught up on the country-music drama, which will have its official Season 5 premiere on CMT in January after ABC cancelled it in May. The verdict? “I felt that this was potentially an amazing show,” the executive producer tells TVLine — but the action unfolded way too quickly.

“It followed a template which is a kind of storytelling that I don’t know how to do, meaning a high amount of incidents, where things happen to people at a very fast rate,” he says. “And by the way, this is really a staple of modern network television. You see it on ABC shows all the time. It’s something that audiences really like — but it’s nothing that I know how to do.”

Herskovitz and Zwick are best known for dramas like thirtysomething, My So-Called Life and Once and Again, dramas that are “absolutely minimalist on plot and all about the very nuanced interactions between people,” aka not reliant on car crashes/covered-up accidental deaths/faked miscarriages and the like.

“So the question was… could we create some kind of hybrid where we brought what we do to Nashville without sort of turning it into a Nashvillesomething?” he continues, laughing. “We didn’t want to ruin what was great about the show, but we had to do storytelling the way we understand it.”

And that version of Nashville is the one that that fans will see in January (or on Dec. 15, when CMT will air a sneak peek of the two-hour premiere’s first half). “The tradeoff is less adrenaline, more emotion,” Herskovitz says. “We have longer scenes, deeper scenes, more opportunity for true relationships between these people to fulfill themselves, to play themselves out. And I think it’s much more emotionally satisfying this way.”

Though he declined to talk character specifics, the EP offered these nuggets in advance of the drama’s rhinestone-studded return:

CONNIE BRITTON* When asked about Connie Britton’s reported departure from Nashville after the season’s 10th episode, Herskovitz good-naturedly reiterated, “I just can’t talk about any kind of a storyline. I think it’s better if I just don’t say anything… I mean, I can say that Hayden [Panettiere] is back, because everyone knows she’s back. But I can’t really talk about anything else from a story concept. So sorry.”

* Look for Deacon to put down his dukes this season. “I find Charles Esten to be just an astonishingly great actor, and I feel what we’ve been able to do with Chip and with Deacon is, again, go deeper into his character,” Herskovitz previews. “So the issue of his sobriety, or the issue of whether he punches people, is not going to be where our focus is going to be.”

* Herskovitz praised Will Chase, who was cut as a series regular in June but who will appear in the new season, as being “really gracious” about understanding the show’s needs. “One of the decisions we made when we first came in was that there were simply too many characters. If we were trying to do less in each episode, there’s just simple math here, do you know what I mean?” The EP added that the show will bring Chase’s Luke back again when needed. “We had to make some draconian decisions early on, and it had nothing to do with the performers. It had everything to do with where those characters fit into the overall storyline of the show. That’s all.”

Nashville fans, how are you feeling about the upcoming season? Hit the comments and let us know!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Johnny says:

    This is great news – enjoyed Nashville in spite of all the soapy stuff so hearing about this change of direction is amazing. Can’t wait!!

  2. Jason says:

    This is music to my ears. He just explained the exact problem I’ve always had with the show. Once and Again was one of my all time favorite shows and if it can be half as well done as that, I’ll be happy.

  3. Celina says:

    I just think it is a little disrespectful not telling the fans, who spent their lifes on twitter to bring the show back, if the lead actress is leaving the show or not.

    • grazelled says:

      The only thing he didn’t say was how she’s leaving. I guess you’re wondering if it’s going to be the same thing as Will Chase, if CB is going to return occasionally as needed. He said he couldn’t spoil the storyline plot at this point regarding her status.

  4. JoAnn says:

    Sounds to me like she’s being killed off (which is what I’ve suspected all along). If Connie was staying, what would be the big deal about saying that??? Kind of lost my enthusiasm for the show.

    • IceTear1 says:

      I think if she was just killed of that would be straightforward to tell. So I think there is something else in it, like kidnapping storyline example. To me this sounds that it’s more story related than Connie just wanting out.

  5. iHeart says:

    I’m still wondering how Layla will be written off

    • Lorna says:

      I felt the finale wrote her out. I like Aubrey and liked Laya when she wasn’t a nutjob, but I much prefer Luke.

      • Tim Church says:

        I was interested in Luke’s issues with his son (whether regarding Maddie or Jeff & Juliette), but Luke himself is 0, IMO.

  6. Joanne says:

    Sounds to me like the show is going in the right direction. I can’t wait to start the new season. I have cut the cord with cable, so I’ll have to wait for Hulu to broadcast it. Thanks so much for keeping it on the air, and thanks to Hulu for giving us all the chance to watch.

  7. tjchurch2001 says:

    It appears to me to keep going back-&-forth…

    He admits he’d never watched it. Then, he says he watched it & found it to be a great show, but plans more emotion & less adrenaline, which I see as anti-country (seems to have equal parts ballads & party rock), & mainly an excuse to give songwriters & prodicers more to do so the show writers can take a break.

  8. Judy says:

    No Connie as Rayna No Nashville for me if she is killed off. But if she leaves (other commitments/movie) i really hope she will return at a later stage back to Deacon for a happy ending in S5….i vow to be yours for ever and always!!!

    • IceTear1 says:

      That`s what I hope also, that if she leaves they still will brought her back to finale for happy ending. So no killing please!

  9. Reneliza says:

    Why is Connie Britton leaving? Draconian decisons hmmm. I like the balance of the storyline with the variety of characters. I find the characters of Deacon and his sobriety or lack of
    Adrenalin. ….real life stuff. Real people problems.
    All the best 😊A huge fan!

  10. Bill says:

    Rayna James in only 10 episodes? They should have let Season 4 be the last.

  11. JT says:

    Just please, please, please quit focusing on the annoying, angsty teens.

  12. Helen Gessel says:

    I can’t wait. So far all I have read I like. Connie we hope you stay, but if you don’t have a great life.

  13. Lynne says:

    I’m thrilled Nashville is back for season 5 looking forward for the changes. Sorry to hear Connie will be leaving.

  14. Lorna says:

    Disappointed about Connie but don’t let the door hit ya, lady. She was the weakest singer. Hayden is far more talented acting and singing wise. Disappointed about the shorter scripts. Excited for new episodes#

    • tjchurch2001 says:

      She may not have been that good a singer, but neither was Hayden. Add (or more like subtract) how little HP/JB was in the last season (physically or audibly), & it would make far more sense to have already signed Connie to a full season & have Hayden re-“Reborn” on a “Heroes” show!

  15. Fiona McNicoll says:

    Is the new season going to be aired in the UK?? I am watching season four on sky living at present.

  16. Betty says:

    Can’t hardly wait as I am so excited you all took the show over so we can continue watching it. It sounds to me like it maybe better than ever. I do wish Rayna would change her mind and continue on with the show as I love her with Deacon.

  17. Wendy says:

    Will Nashville still be available to watch in Canada!!??

  18. Cc says:

    Hoping they don’t ruin the show with the changes

  19. Alicia A Ames says:

    I can’t wait for “Nashville” to return. From the get go I thought it was a fantastic show and was really upset when the network chose to cancel it. Way to go CMT for picking it up

  20. Kris says:

    Love the show! Love the music and the Stella sisters. Sad to see Rayna go, but I think potential for more good story lines for Deakin and the girls are yet to come. The character of Scarlett could lighten up a bit…..also love Aubrey and Juliette.