I decided to try an experiment. What if instead of me interviewing a celebrity, I let you guys do it instead? And it turns out, you guys are really good at this. I loved your questions for "Nashville" creator Callie Khouri -- and so did she.
If you don't know Khouri, she's the creator and executive producer of ABC’s very popular show, “Nashville,” which was called “the best new drama of 2012” by Entertainment Weekly, TIME Magazine, The New York Post and The Daily Beast.
But who cares what those other places say.
Let's put her to the xoJane Commenter Callie Khouri Interview test:
Your Question: What's been your favorite song so far?
Callie Khouri: Hard question! “If I Didn’t Know Better” (pilot) or “Fade into You” (third episode) were both favorites. I also love “Casino.”
Your Question: Is Scarlett basically pre-fame Rayna? If so, will she end up rejecting Gunnar in favor of her own version of Teddy?
Callie Khouri: She is in some ways, yes, and in other ways they are very different. She isn’t someone who set out to be a country star. She stumbled into it. We’ve watched her discover that it’s something she can do, so she’s a little more reluctant in her star role, whereas Rayna came from such a different background. Rayna has so much self-confidence and poise from the way she was brought up. I think Teddy was a particular thing at a particular time for her, and it was an “unusual” situation given that Rayna was pregnant and there were the complications from that. She made a choice, not based on her romantic needs but rather on a more practical level.
Your Question: Any new Nashville locations that we should be looking out for in future eps? I'm surprised the Opryland Hotel hasn't ended up in an episode yet.
Callie Khouri: We shoot all over town so there will definitely be some new places. Sometimes we use a location for something else other than what it is. There’s the beautiful new convention center –- gorgeous -– but we use it for something else. The Parthenon WAS used as a backdrop for a concert for Juliette for the launch of her latest album.
Your Question: With all the drama that is surrounding THAT ENDING, how will this season open up?
Callie Khouri: We will see more awesome singing! The season will open up right where we left off. Basically, we’ll see how all the pieces are put back together.
Your Question: It is my understanding that T-Bone Burnett is no longer involved. Buddy Miller, however, is. How will that change the music on the show?
Callie Khouri: Imperceptibly. T-Bone and Buddy worked together quite a bit for Season 1 and have known each other for many years. Buddy understands the T-Bone aesthetic more than anybody, so the show’s musical direction will stay the same. We never expected T-Bone to stay for more than one season so we knew someone else would take it over. We’re very happy that it is Buddy who is doing it and that we didn’t have to find someone who was a stranger to T-Bone’s process.
Your Question: When you're directing a show that requires actors to do a dialect (southern in this instance) how involved are you in that work? For example, Teddy (Rayna's husband) and a few other characters don't do a southern dialect but most of the other characters do. Is this a personal choice for the actors, or do you guide them in that aspect of their character development?
Callie Khouri: It’s a mutually made decision. Some people are really natural with accents, but sometimes it takes them out of the moment. I grew up in Texas, but I have no discernible accent so it’s not unusual for some people to not have one while living in a Southern city.
Your Question: What do you think about the comparisons to "All About Eve" -- the younger star vs. the aging star? About a woman (Rayna) over 40 being the star and not the mom? Why is TV getting somewhere on this where movies totally are not?
Callie Khouri: Everybody always tries to compare "Nashville" to something else. There are clear comparisons you can make, but it’s more about two women in a competitive business in two different times in their respective careers. Theoretically there should be room for both of them. What it is more about is both of the women trying to be artists and staying relevant in order to have long careers. Artists are seen as disposable. You’ll see that with a new character this season: Layla.
I’m really happy that Rayna is a star and not “the mom.” It’s what made me want to write the show. In the pilot you see Rayna go to work, and she’s a superstar AND a mom. Most of the big female superstars we know about (in real life) at some point become mothers so it’s really about being true to the characters.
Why is TV breaking ground? People in the film industry know that the way to have a successful movie is to have a big opening weekend, but women don’t turn out for that, so the storylines reflect that. Teens yes, not adult women. They’re at home watching television. With TV, you don’t have to do it all in one weekend.
Your Question: How do you approach the blending of music into the narrative? I think it's a very difficult thing to do, and I'd love to hear how you view the challenge of aligning the music with the episodic/story theme and not taking the viewer out of the plot.
Callie Khouri: We really look hard to find songs that would naturally be a song that the characters would perform. They pertain to the narrative in a way that is not necessarily right on the nose but certainly a song that would have grown out of the experience of the songwriter. And mostly, we’re just very picky and very lucky that we find songs that fit the bill.
Find Mandy long-form at http://tinyurl.com/stadtmiller.