October 2, 2012

Trojans in Music City

Nashville Executive Producer/Director and alum R.J. Cutler Visits

ABC’s new show Nashville tells the story of an aging country singer who has to navigate a record company that’s lost its faith in her, a new album that won’t sell and an up-and-coming starlet who is trying to steal her fire - and her band. In Professor Howard Rosenberg’s Television Symposium class on October 1st, executive producer/director and School of Cinematic Arts alum R.J. Cutler visited with students and told them that, although Nashville is set in a glitzy world, the key to making it work was to keep it authentic.

RJ Cutler in SCA 108

“We spend a lot of time studying people and how they behave,” said Cutler. “We said we wanted authenticity and magic. Projects always have guiding principles and those were ours. It was going to show what it’s like at [country music club] The Bluebird, what it’s like to rehearse in an expensive studio and  what it’s like to live in the suburbs of a major city. It was about the pollen in the air in Tennessee. I approached it like a documentarian. [Pilot writer/executive producer] Callie [Khouri] lived in Nashville for years and her input was invaluable.”

Professor Rosenberg’s Television Symposium class is a survey course for SCA students interested in working in television production. In the lecture before the Q and A, Rosenberg discussed the importance of music in television and screened the pilot of Cop Rock, clips from Treme and the pilot of Nashville.

“The first story that Callie told me was that she got dinner at a place and the waitress served her food, and then later, she went to this hole-in-the-wall club and the same girl sang a song that just broke her heart,” said Cutler. “That story basically stayed with us the whole time. There were other things, of course, but the idea that it’s a hard-working town packed with talented people is what really stuck with us and it’s in the pilot.”

Before Nashville Cutler was best know as a documentarian and producer of reality TV. His credits include The September Issue, 30 Days, The War Room and many others.

For more information, please visit: http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/nashville