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VOL. 40 | NO. 22 | Friday, May 27, 2016

Can fans really help resuscitate ‘Nashville?’

By Tom Wood

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As it turns out, some of the best “Nashville’’ drama is playing off-screen following the series’ somewhat unexpected cancellation after four seasons.

Controversy surrounding the show’s demise – it was officially cancelled by ABC on May 12 – and possible revival is akin to classic country hit songs about lovin’ and leavin’, feudin’ and fightin’, money problems and greed, heartache and heartbreak, thinkin’ and drinkin’ – all played out over the last two weeks.

I envision Tammy Wynette singing “D-I-V-O-R-C-E-A-B-C one minute, and “Stand By Your Show” the next.

Instead of “I Walk the Line,” Johnny Cash might sing “You Crossed the Line.”

Nashvillians – and country music fans across the globe – have always loved a good fight. And this one’s been growing since producer Lionsgate thumbed its nose at the cancellation and announced that it is shopping “Nashville’’ to other interested networks.

That move had thousands of #Nashies tweeting #BringBackNashville, #BringBackSeasonFive and #NashCrash to ABC and anyone who will listen. As of May 22, more than 94,000 people had signed a petition at Change.Org to save the show.

Efforts caught the attention of local media, “TV Guide,’’ “Variety,’’ “Deadline’’ and others, leading to more Tweets. The show’s stars jumped on the trending bandwagon.

Charles “Chip” Esten (Deacon) recently tweeted: “Hey, #Nashies: THANK YOU for all the love in action,” while Aubrey Peeples (Layla) tweeted, “Thank you so much for keeping us trending #Nashies #BringBackNashville so overwhelmed with love” and Sam Palladio (Gunnar) added “Hey #Nashies you guys are killing it with #BringBackNashville. Thanks so much for the love!”

Would ‘Nashville’ keep Nashville? That’s another question that must be answered if there is indeed a fifth season renewal. It’s all about money and incentives, and the state of Tennessee has committed $8 million toward a fifth season.

Both the city’s convention bureau and Ryman Hospitality were expected to kick in more.

It’s also about finding the right fit for a new partner. And getting all the stars to re-commit. It wouldn’t surprise me to see a cast shakeup if the producers find the right deal.

And that right deal, as far as I and other extras are concerned, would include a commitment to keep taping the show in Nashville.

There has been past speculation that production would move to Atlanta or Texas, and I’ve heard echoes of that scenario in this discussion of Nashville rising again.

Don’t know if that rumor has legs, but Nashville not shooting in Nashville would be a disastrous move, PR-wise.

Whatever backlash ABC has received would quadruple if the show was saved, then moved away from its namesake city.

The real Nashville – the locales, the people, the real music stars who occasionally make guest appearances, everything – are integral to the show’s appeal to a legion of fans worldwide. They come here for music festivals and the atmosphere. They drive out to the real Bluebird Café just to get their pictures taken there.

Nashville – the city – was cool long before the TV show, a destination city with a global brand long before Music City became the “It” City with a TV show.