It is odd, but not so surprising these days, that Australian actor Clare Bowen convincingly plays, in the TV series Nashville, a one-time-waif from Natchez, Mississippi, who becomes a highly successful country singer and songwriter. Hell, if you don’t find an Australian convincingly playing a regional American character on a modern TV show – hello Ryan Kwanten in True Blood – you start to question their casting choices.
It’s odder, if you grew up with shows and movies full of miming “musicians”, that when playing Natchez girl Scarlett O’Connor, Bowen, like the rest of the cast, is actually singing and playing the songs. Though as Bowen says, “I don’t know any different. I came from classical and musical theatre and if you can’t sing, you don’t get the job.”
It may be more mind-turning for some traditionalists that having been an actor who sings (having trained in opera initially then later film and TV), Bowen, who turns 32 this month, is now touring and playing the songs her character sings – usually with her on-screen musician boyfriend – along with a few more originals co-written with her real-life musician boyfriend, Brandon Young.
But what must really be weird if you think it all fantasy, is how much the Natchez girl has in common with the actor who is often referred to as coming from Wollongong but really grew up all over the place, and in no place.
Let’s start with what Bowen calls Scarlett’s “self-esteem issues and being frightened of people”. This was someone who – “from the backwoods of Mississippi, content to be a housewife” – had no belief in her abilities. Across the Pacific, Bowen remembers that she “got told for a long time that I couldn’t sing anyway. So when I got this job it was even more of a surprise”.
Was she told when she was training in opera that she may not have a long-term future with her voice?
“No, it wasn’t as constructive as that,” she laughs. “I think being young and being in a big group of people who were all really … [she pauses] … people get told that if you destroy your opponent then you’ll be just fine and it’s completely wrong.
“So being picked up for a show like this was like an awakening. I had been conditioned so much to think that I wasn’t very good that it was still a shock, even after playing Wendla [in the original Australian production of the musical Spring Awakening for the Sydney Theatre Company].”
Then there’s the way cancer stalks her character: not directly as it did Bowen when she was four years old and diagnosed with end-stage nephroblastoma affecting her kidneys, but via Scarlett’s uncle and tangentially her mother, while she dates an oncologist.
As well as her own long and tough treatment and recovery before she’d even turned 8, Bowen’s younger brother Timothy, a promising singer and songwriter whose girlfriend is studying medicine, is also in remission from a more recent cancer.
“I don’t know why this is happening to my family twice but I do know that he will come out of it on the other side the person that he is meant to be. Because that’s what it did to me,” says Bowen, who adds that Chip Esten, who plays Scarlett’s uncle, is recording one of Timothy’s co-written songs, From Here On Out, which appears in a pivotal moment of the fourth season.
Art imitates life imitates art imitates …
“I’ve been into the writers’ room a couple of times, they’ve been really collaborative with me,” says Bowen. “At the beginning I was asked to write a back story, so I did that, and the writers took it, put their own mark on it, but stayed really true to what I had written.”
A lot of it was Bowen discovering herself inadvertently.
“Scarlett was this very introverted person [and] I didn’t know I was one when I came to Nashville. People thought I was a bit strange because I was quiet: I felt good on stage and I felt good around animals but around people I always feel a little bit awkward.
“So without knowing, I was writing this character who was very much related to myself, except her struggle came from a really rough childhood with a mother who didn’t know how to treat her with love; mine was that I wasn’t raised around too many people my own age [because of the hospitalisations and recovery]. There were parts that were really scary and sad but it made me who I am.” – Source
“Nashville” will return for a fifth season that will be broadcast on CMT and streamed on Hulu thanks to a unique deal that was reached on Thursday after weeks of negotiations, according to sources familiar with the talks.
The show was canceled by ABC after a four-season run, but fans of the show banded together and launched a social media campaign to save the country music-focused drama. Lionsgate began pitching the show to other networks and ultimately found a home on the Nashville-based CMT.
Crucial to the deal is the incentive package that will see the state, Metro, the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. and Ryman Hospitality chip in funds to offset the cost of the show’s production. The state put $8 million in its budget and Nashville Mayor Megan Barry has proposed a $1.375 million fund for film incentives, though the final amount for “Nashville” has not been announced.
The state and Metro have justified incentives for “Nashville” by arguing the show brings tourists to the city and pumps millions of dollars into the local economy, in addition to bringing production jobs.
The entire cast is expected to return for the show, which will be under the direction of a new creative team.
“Nashville” was conceived by Ryman Hospitality and developed by Lionsgate. The show’s ratings were inconsistent in its fourth season, but a loyal fan base has remained. And “Nashville” has additional revenue streams than the typical television show because of its music licensing component.
In fact the show’s stars have been on a tour in recent weeks. Some observers have said that no scripted show has licensed more original music than “Nashville.”
The show has also taken local film production to another level, providing steady employment for hundreds of workers behind the scenes. The local payroll was in the neighborhood of $21.2 million for season two, according to the most recent numbers released by the show’s representatives.
Season 1: $14.4 million
Season 2: $13.25 million
Season 3: $8 million
Season 4: $10 million
New hope for Nashville.
Cable network CMT is near a deal with the former ABC drama’s producers — Lionsgate, ABC Studios and Opry Entertainment have — to continue to series into a fifth season. There is also a Hulu component to the deal as well, we’re told.
The move means that fans who agonized over last week’s unexpected season 4 cliffhanger would get some resolution. In the finale, Juliette Barnes’ (Hayden Panettiere) plane went missing while her child’s father (Jonathan Jackson) waited for her return.
Though it’s not uncommon for canceled broadcast shows to hunt for another buyer, it’s actually pretty rare that one actually pulls off switch — especially among dramas. In recent years, comedies like Fox’s The Mindy Project (Hulu) and NBC’s Community (Yahoo) have managed to find post-broadcast homes among streaming companies. Going from a major to basic cable is trickier as budgets for cable networks tend to be rather lower than broadcast and it can be difficult to make the math work for all parties involved.
Fans have beat the drum for the show’s survival, organizing a virtual viewing party of the Nashville pilot last week under the hashtag #NashRewind. Star Charles “Chip”
With the potential pickup, all bubble shows from last season would either been axed or saved — with CBS’ fellow limbo drama Limitless having run out of options last week.
Clare did the press circuit last week in Australia while promoting her tour and videos have been scattered and surfacing. A lot are difficult to watch because they are region based meaning unless you live in that country you are unable to see them. I posted one video like this last week and have come across another and thought I would share! Check out new Australian interviews of our favorite Pixie!
• 2016: 05/27 Ten Eye Witness News Interview – Sydney, Australia | Watch Video (same as above)
• 2016: 05/27 Breakfast Show Interview – Sydney, Australia | Watch Video
• 2016: 05/27 Mamma Mia Podcast Interview – Sydney, Australia | Watch Video | Listen to Podcast
Country music drama Nashville tonight wrapped its four-season run on ABC with a finale that ended with a cliffhanger. It was an intentional move by the show’s creator Callie Khouri and lead studio Lionsgate TV as I hear that an alternative, series finale ending, also had been filmed. That is because the studio is optimistic that it would find another home for the show.
Neither Oscar winner Khouri not Lionsgate are ready to close the book on Nashville, they told Deadline exclusively.
“Nashville fans are the absolute best, and support for the #BringBackNashville campaign has been amazing,” Khouri said. “We are so grateful for our extremely loyal following. We have stories left to tell and songs left to sing.”
The #BringBackNashville social media campaign has been growing, with a change.org petition garnering more than 100,000 signatures to date. In a tweet at the conclusion of tonight’s finale, Lionsgate TV assured fans that there will be more Nashville.
The studio already has Season 5 mapped out, as it had funded a writers room led by new showrunners Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick, who were to succeed departing original showrunner Dee Johnson.
“Lionsgate, ABC Studios and Opry Entertainment couldn’t have asked for better partners on Nashville than ABC, as together we created a drama that has captivated viewers worldwide and turned #Nashies into a potent group of superfans,” Lionsgate Television Chairman Kevin Beggs told Deadline. “We want to thank creator Callie Khouri and showrunner Dee Johnson for their inspiration and guidance through tonight’s exciting season finale, and know that more of the Nashville story is waiting to be told.”
Clare was on a morning show in Sydney Australia today called The Morning Show. I’ve added a video and screencaps from her interview and live performance. Enjoy!
• 2016: 05/27 The Morning Show Interview – Sydney, Australia
I’ve added screencaps of Clare’s appearance on the season 4 Nashville finale. Let’s hope it was a season finale and not a series finale. Be sure to keep tweeting and using #BringBackNashville!
This was a great interview and the song was just lovely. Check it out!
I’ve added screencaps of Clare from this week’s Nashville. Sorry for the delay! Enjoy.
It’s a movement. No, not a reference to the current presidential campaigns, but it is a campaign to #BringBackNashville.
Nashville producer Lionsgate TV, which has been shopping the show to other networks since ABC cancelled the series last week, says response by fans (aka “Nashies”) to bring the show back has been overwhelming. The hashtag has been trending since the penultimate episode aired last night. Nashville cast members Sam Palladio and Clare Bowen and even the show’s creator Callie Khouri have joined in.
The social media buzz also has been great for Lionsgate’s twitter feed. The studio says it has
added more than 1,500 followers since announcing it was shopping the show. We hear Lionsgate is actively having conversations with interested networks, so stay tuned.