Nashville Rachel Bilson

Nashville Adds The O.C.'s Rachel Bilson and Empire's Kaitlin Doubleday

Nashville is fine-tuning its post-Rayna reboot, adding The O.C.‘s Rachel Bilson and Empire‘s Kaitlin Doubleday in major roles, TVLine has confirmed. The pair will make their debut when the CMT drama kicks off the second half of its current fifth season later this spring.

The two high-profile hires come as the series forges ahead without leading lady Connie Britton, whose alter ego, Rayna, was killed off last month.

Details on the characters Bilson and Doubleday will be playing are being kept under wraps, but both actresses hinted at their respective roles in separate social media posts late Thursday.

Music city, here I come🎧#nashvillecmt

A post shared by @rachelbilson on

This will definitely be a change of pace! #NashvilleCMT

A post shared by Kaitlin Doubleday (@kaitlindday) on

“We welcome Rachel and Kaitlin into our incredibly talented ensemble,” said Nashville EP Marshall Herskovitz in a statement. “We fondly anticipate the second half of the season filled with surprising twists and turns that make Nashville so beloved by the fans.”

CMT’s decision to acquire the series from ABC last year has thus far paid off. The series 5 premiere ranked as the cabler’s most-watched telecast in history. And last week’s episode — which focused on the aftermath of Rayna’s death — hit new season highs.

Bilson is coming off of a four-year run on The CW’s Hart of Dixie (in which she at one point broke into song), while Doubleday recently concluded her two-plus season run on Fox’s Empire (where her character Rhonda met an untimely end).

Press PLAY below to watch a sneak peek at Nashville Season 5B, and then hit the comments with your snappy judgement about the show’s newest hires!

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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62 Comments
  1. GeoDiva says:

    Looks like I will be sticking around!

    • ameraleigh says:

      Same here, although I’m not as bothered by some that Rayna is gone, I didn’t like the way she was written out but for me the show wasn’t all about her. I’m a huge Rachel Bilson fan so this is exciting news.

      • Celina says:

        I don’t think Nashville was about Rayna either (although she was the lead), but I didn’t like anything about her departure, especially not the lying. I think the fair thing to do was to be honest about it, tell everyone that the actress is leaving and that they won’t comment on how the character will leave.
        Nashville could exist forever with new characters and stories, but only if they give them proper endings. Nobody wants to invest in a show, which destroys all the characters journey.

        • tjchurch2001 says:

          They did tell them in the way they needed to (on sites like this). Do a Google-search for her, & it’s inescapable (much the way Hayden signing for a full season, which undid the original Juliette-missing ending, was when the show was picked-up).

          I had a teacher over a decade ago in school who said that TV & movies to be any good in our opinions actually require something of us: The willing suspension of disbelief. I rarely realize that knowingly, but it is the reason I hated the delay of the Ferrer tribute song & square on “NCIS: Los Angeles”, & simultaneously why I loved the Paxton piece at the top of “Training Day” (& spent much of last night’s episode wondering how much of enjoying the wisecracks was the writing/directing & how much would not be there if it gets renewed).

          To quote your own comment, “Nobody wants to invest in a show, which destroys all the characters journey” by telling you how & why they’re really gone.

  2. Brian says:

    Glad to see Kaitlin land another gig. Still hate how she was killed off of Empire.

    • JM says:

      Ditto. It should have been Anika. Still consider it racist they killed off the only white cast member.

      • Dude says:

        To be fair, they didn’t even realize they were going to have to kill one of them off until after they shot the finale and remembered that someone can’t survive falling off a skyscraper so it doesn’t sound like they have the brightest writers to begin with.

        • tjchurch2001 says:

          People survive things that have killed (or could kill) many others seemingly every day… But that is something you do for a short break like the show is on now… Nobody survives that & 3 additional months’ worth of potential accidents, side-effects, etc.

      • tjchurch2001 says:

        Am I the only one who counts more than one in the demo of white female?! Not sure of her name, but she was around Lucius a ton, & somehow found her way to working for/leading an Empire fashion line.

  3. rinaex says:

    Looks like they’re gearing up fo Hayden’s eventual departure.

    • Samantha says:

      Im sure about that…after all Juliettes growth, that would be really sad. I think if Hayden left the same fans would be mad as we did save the show for these characters. You wouldnt be Nashville without at least one of the ladies…regardless I hope not and know it hasnt been mentioned by Hayden….crossing fingers it doesnt happen.

    • Billy Bob Johnson says:

      Yeah, it looks that way. Tough to keep actors on a low-rated cable network. I’m sure the budget and pay are much less than broadcast network.

      • Samantha says:

        Hayden at least signed till the end of this season…and after that who knows whats happening…im hoping that this casting though it might look like that its is a leaving point for her i hope its not true.

    • If that happened, the show wouldn’t be worth watching anymore and the ratings would definitely plummet. It’s bad enough Connie wanted out and was killed off. Hayden leaving would be the definite demise for the show. Why start rumors? Geesh.

  4. Last ve Rachel so I’m excited for this

  5. Jason says:

    I love both these ladies, so, looking forward to that. I can’t remember if Rachel ever got a chance to sing on Hart of Dixie, so I’m anxious to hear what kind of pipes she has.

  6. Diane says:

    Nice additions but still not watching anymore! Good luck to cast hope they are successful but Connie main reason I watched!

  7. Jim says:

    Oh no. Not Bilson. Damn. :(

  8. Greg says:

    I did think I was out out after Rayna’s death, but I like both of these actresses so maybe it will be worth staying around. Problem is the show already has too big of a cast, and some characters disappear for weeks as it is…

  9. tjchurch2001 says:

    Glad to see two people I know from the past to be major talents get on a show I already watch & enjoy. Dislike, however, that neither are males, making it look like the hires &/or characters are specifically to regain viewers lost when Connie left, & that neither will lead to more story/screen-time for Carmack (there goes hope for an “OC” reunion!).

  10. pAloma says:

    Don’t they have enough characters on the show that they never write for? Will for example. Not a fan of Bilson either disappointing news.

    • tjchurch2001 says:

      If you’d care to go back & read how many thought Rayna/Connie basically WAS the show, you’ll likely recall there have been many characters during the course of the show, but the writers let them drop like flies once they’re introduced. (Why didn’t the still-living Rayna sign Clay in place of the singer that yelled at her daughter so much an an episode earlier this year, for instance?! Not like we’ve seen that supposed talent or even heard her name since!)

      On the other hand, Bilson proved in just her “How I Met Your Mother” guest spots to have more talent than half the characters the show has added over the years, so there’s almost no downside to this info (except might have preferred equal gender-wise).

      • pAloma says:

        I’m pretty sure the singer who yelled at Maddie during her internship internship at the recording studio was not a Highway 65 artist but some random artist working in the studio. Avery works freelance and he brought in Deacon, but it had nothing to do with Highway 65, if you go back and watch it again.

        Yes, there have been many throwaway characters in th life of this show. But there are plenty of characters who have been around since the beginning or almost the beginning and it would be nice to see them used better. I still don’t like Bilson, no matter what you say about her talent.

        Nashville was about Rayna and Juliet. Some of that got flung aside due to Hayden’s postpartum depression and the fact that the oriGina writers didn’t always have a clear vision for the show. While some people thought Rayna was the show, I’ve always found the secondary characters interesting. So I’d like to see more of Juliet’s growth and have her shepherd Maddie. I’d like to see how Deacon deals going forward. It should be hard for him for a very long time. And then I like have the writers step up the action for the rest of the cast. Develop Will and Zach, perhaps. Certainly Will has been mostly shoved into a corner.

        • tjchurch2001 says:

          Juliette’s bit with Rayna getting shoved had nothing to do with Hayden’s real issue. They worked together on “Wrong Song” (Connie relayed a great story about that tune on a talk show) based on their relationships with Teddy & Avery (I believe). Besides, most people responded to Rayna’s death saying the show was her & Deacon. I don’t believe it started as any two people.

          I don’t think the singer who chewed Maddie out was a Highway artist, but someone they found online or something & were considering signing, similar to the way Layla began. (Not positive, but seem to recall Bucky or one of the higher-ups mentioning that when they walked into H65 with her.)

    • abz says:

      Exactly! Two more characters who will take away screen time from characters who already barely get anything. The way this show has constantly pushed Will to the side is so damn annoying. This entire season he’s only got like a handful of scenes to himself (and nothing compared to other characters). The rest of his screen time is mostly him propping up other storylines (which is understandable only because of the last two episodes with Rayna’s death, but still). And the fact that more time has been spent on Maddie and Clay (especially considering how annoying Maddie was last season) than anything with Will pisses me off.
      Even Juliet too. There have been like two or three episodes this season where she hasn’t even been in them for whatever reason.
      They completely failed the writing with Will/Kevin’s relationship. Never even gave that relationship a chance. Is it too much to ask for the show to give Will a decent story arc. And if they are committed to his relationship with Zack then why can’t they give it the same focus and dedication that they give to the endless Scarlett and Gunnar drama, Maddie/Clay, Juliet/Avery, etc.
      I see so many losers constantly complaining online about every show having a gay character on it, even with this show too, however they fail to realize that these characters rarely get the same screen time as anyone else or stories of their own more than half the time. I mean just look at the new Riverdale show with Kevin’s character. All they show him do is be there in support of Veronica/Betty and following them around while throwing in like one or two scenes with him and some guy with no follow up for weeks. Whatever!
      The past two Nashville episode were great and heartbreaking and I will miss Connie. Just getting tired of this crap with shows adding so many characters and failing to devote meaningful screen time to some of the characters they already do have.

      • Amen to that! Adding more characters takes away from the other characters, especially Will, like you say. Chris Carmack is a fantastic actor and singer and needs more screen time. I hate that they are adding more people to the cast.

  11. RichieS says:

    Hopefully one of those two will be a new love interest for Gunner. He will never find happiness with that self-loathing pessimist Scarlett.

    • tjchurch2001 says:

      Nor does he deserve it. He spends all that time (with real, decent reasons) around someone who has in them what that director brought our of her (probably “& then some”), & still writes songs inspired by other women?! When are he “playing winner:” of the Will-Kevin catfight?!

  12. Sharon Weaver says:

    I’m not sure I will like the show w/o Rayna, but I’m going to give it a shot. But one thing is for sure as far as I’m concerned … enough with Gunner and Scarlett’s back and forth nonsense. Either she’s miserable without him or she’s miserable with him. As soon as she gets him back she’s looking for the next guy to sleep with. It’s old. Write them together or apart, but move on from that, please.

    • tjchurch2001 says:

      It was “Plan A” to keep people who threatened/decided to leave after Rayna died… So many people claimed she WAS the show, or at least a major part of it. The truth was it only seemed that way because the Rayna-Deacon storylines took-up 80% of every episode (even with a dozen other characters, & things like this proving they kept adding more).

  13. Broadwayfan says:

    Whatever they have planned for these blondes Deacon does NOT need to be looking for, or at, another woman!!
    I am,also, glad to see what poor little Daphne is going through. She needs a major storyline.

    • tjchurch2001 says:

      I don’t recall Rachel being blonde except for maybe 1 TV commercial.

      Also, I was not going to stop watching when Rayna or Jeff died, but when the younger daughter started talking about her gender-based changes (& increasingly-more characters added their proverbial 2-cents’), it turned me away. I can only imagine what Chip, Chris, Jonathan, & some of the others must feel, hearing it multiple times each for multiple days… And can’t keep anything down if you head to craft service!

      • Cat says:

        I am sorry are you saying the 1 episode where a girl got her period turned you off of watching? And that if male actors have to hear the word period it makes them so I’ll they can’t eat? Seriously? Grow up.

        • tjchurch2001 says:

          I wasn’t saying it turned me off of watching (though I somehow forgot about it tonight), simply for the few seconds they were discussing it. That is not nearly as bad as some claiming on this very site they would stop watching when a single character on a loaded show died & 1 actress left the camera.

          Also, I am more than grown up enough. Neither growing up nor maturing changes the way your mind & body react to all things… Similarly, the writers (probably men AND women) should be aware of this possibility. In fact, they likely are, but write those discussions a million times an episode regardless due to the same double standard that allows 2 “Magic Mike” movies, but a million social media complaints if a top-billing actress shows a hint of cleavage that is too much in any female’s opinion.

        • Fabrizia says:

          I love periods. There show be shows all about that: the stars talk about their first in “When I had my First Period” on VH1.

          • tjchurch2001 says:

            VH1 already did a show years ago where celebs discussed their high school years. (I thought it was called “My Coolest Years”, & IMDB says a show called that ran in ’04 & ’05.)

            Regardless, it needn’t be talked about so much in a show, & especially not just one episode. In the words of Bo Burnham, “Whoops! Stop. Period. End of discussion.”

  14. Judy Jones says:

    When Deacon was going through Raynas things I heard just part of what I thought was a song . I only caught the words I CANT IMAGINE LOVING ANYBODY THE WAY I LOVE YOU. Is this a song that Tayna sang or just part of the story line? It was on tonight’s story 3/8/17.
    I hope somebody can help me. Thanks

    • Amber says:

      It’s actually a song Connie and Charles both are on and It’s on iTunes and it’s called “can’t remember never loving you”

  15. Adrienne says:

    This better be Gunnar’s baby or I’m really AM out of there! Enough is enough!!
    Let’s keep Deacon and girls a unit! Don’t mess with success!!!

    • tjchurch2001 says:

      I believe by definition you can’t “keep” them a unit.

      Sure, they are now, but were not originally… They were first a family &/or unit with Teddy, despite him having no genetic connection. Then, they all learned of Deacon’s bio-role, but he was still somewhat of a third wheel, looking in from outside.

      Next, they became two units: Rayna & the girls, & Rayna & her man… This went so badly the one who Deacon was genetically connected to took them to court to get away. I forget how that ended officially in the trial, except that Dad-Deacon punched some stranger in a bar.

  16. Bonny Castilaw says:

    For me, this show drew me in with the story of Rayna & Deacon. I love the girls, Maddie & Daphne. The music is fantastic. LOVE the songs . Scarlett & Gunner, Avery & Juliet, Will, are all pluses. I was afraid people would abandon it without Rayna, But I will be sticking around. These shows handling her death have been great. Life evolves & the show should too. Be open to change.

  17. Patsy Palmer says:

    Great show I thought it would be blah when Ranya left, but I can see now that it’s going to stay a really good show got my attention.

  18. Mary says:

    This could be interesting. I’ll stick around.

  19. xwiseguyx says:

    The sign of a good ensemble TV show is the ability to sustain the loss of any character due to the strong cast. If anyone didn’t watch the show due to Connie Britton’s departure didn’t really believe the show was that great to begin with. They made the right changes after season one on who to keep and who to remove and this resulted in a great cast that should keep this show on the air for years to come.

  20. Debra says:

    I have been a fan of Nashville since day 1, but this season is by far the very best!! Love all of the characters!! Excited to see Rachel Bilson join the cast !

  21. Cathy Skaar says:

    I love Rachel Bilson and Empire was stupid for killing Kaitlin Doubleday’s character. I think Nashville is going to be just fine with these two additions.

  22. Charlene says:

    I love Nashville. One of the few shows that I enjoy on TV today. I am certainly glad that CMT picked the up. ABC has turned to a lot of bad tv lately so I rarely watch them. Although I Hated to see Rayna go there is so much talent on this show and a lot more the writers can do with the story line. Again, thank you CMT for making this happen!

  23. Hazel says:

    I love this show I can’t believe it the way you just written off Rayna its horrible. Because S5/E11 it showed the next episode was Daphame is missing so Is the show still on Cmt.

  24. Judy Talone says:

    Yeah sooooooo happy Nashville is continued! Seems like extended family !

  25. Melanie Hill says:

    I am so happy this series will continue even without our beloved Rayna. There are so many rich characters and storylines that still remain. There is still a lot of life left in this series fantastic series. I’ll miss Connie but she is certainly not the only reason I tune in week after week. The writing and storylines are fantastic. Can’t wait to see Rachel Bilson and how she fits in. I’m a fan!

  26. Vivian K says:

    This show needs a big country star as the protagonist. It was Rayna. Now that she’s gone, Luke Wheeler should come back and carry on the building of an empire. The actor who played Luke is really talented, and could be the glue to hold the ensemble together.

    • tjchurch2001 says:

      1] How do you know he was talented? The character was practically Bob Vila, coming in to help Luke’s career (then toss him, then hire him again), & seemingly flipping a switch in the writers’ room telling them where to point the characters for a few weeks at a time!

      I know it was sad when Rayna died, but the saddest part of that episode for me may have been the scenes from the next week that showed everyone mourning her in every previewed scene! The show is called “Nashville”, & just like the real city, it has a ton of good people (characters), & the majority of them are still amongst the living! So let’s get busy living & not keep thinking about those who have done the (life, not career) dying! (Nobody’s still mourning Jeff, with the possible exception of me.)

  27. Edye says:

    Love the show and all the cast!!!! Looking forward to seeing it back soon, sounds like it’s really going to be exciting. Happy to hear Scarlet is going on tour with Gunner, as well as Juliette and Avery are working through their issues. so sad to have to wait for its return again!

  28. Julia Thibeault says:

    The last nashville i watched was Fire and Rain. Is that the last show of the season