I’ve been very lucky to be able to talk with Nashville creator Callie Khouri a bunch of times over the last two seasons. THe show has two more episodes (one airs tonight) and the team is still waiting from the call from ABC as to whether they will be back next year. Make no mistake about it, Khouri is upping the number of women working behind the scenes on TV and so on many levels it is important that Nashville returns next season. So don’t forget to watch the last two shows and use your social media to voice your approval for the show’s renewal.
This is a no spoiler interview (I have watched both episodes and they are terrific)
Women and Hollywood: Talk a little bit about where the season has been going.
Callie Khouri: Obviously Deacon and Rayna have come to terms with the fact that are going to have to be parents together. As difficult as it has been for them they need to find a way to co-parent and see if they can do that without heading into really dangerous territory for both of them. Clearly, they can’t – he can’t. Also, Juliette. Her problems are so ingrained that they are just never going to go away.
WaH: She self sabotages herself constantly because that’s all she know how to do.
CK: Yes- because that is how she was raised. It’s just tragic watching this person. It’s like it’s not even her fault, she truly is a victim of her upbringing.
WaH: It felt like we saw Rayna mothering everyone this season especially with Scarlett and also in some way with Juliette too.
CK: I think of it as less trying to mother Juliette and more trying to mentor her. And I think that yes she has a mama bear thing with her own kids but when we see her with Juliette it’s much more of a “ok kid grow up – you don’t know what you’re doing. You want to be a big girl- be a big girl.”
WaH: The storyline with her daughters — especially Maddie — is really just beginning.
CK: It’s been a really though for Maddie because she does feel this connection to Deacon musically and otherwise. It’s everything she wants this relationship with Deacon. I think all kids fantasize no matter what that their parents are in love and want to be together and so I think this is a tough one with her.
WaH: Did anything happen this season – choices that were made, roads that have gone down – that you regret or did not expect?
CK: The whole show is a work in progress at all times. When we hired Will Chase (who plays Luke Wheeler) we were going to do a very short arc with him. We love him. We love what he has brought to this character. We love with chemistry with Connie (Rayna) and we ended up building way more story for him than we ever intended in the beginning. We were going to be in and out with him. It just didn’t kind of go that way with him one because he’s incredibly funny and fun. Just the way that they dealt with each other was really great and it was like wow it’s interesting seeing Rayna in a relationship that she didn’t see coming, which on some levels solves a lot of problems for her even though nothing is ever perfect. It’s pretty interesting watching her with someone who doesn’t come with all the baggage. That was one that wasn’t our intention.
WaH: In the beginning of the season we talked about Avery and his redemption. He’s made the full circle.
CK: One of the things is that Jonathan Jackson as a human being is one of the nicest people on the face of the earth and it become so personally so uncomfortable for me to watch him and have people say they wish he wasn’t there or asking me to get rid of the character. Originally he was supposed to be a very different kind of character and once I knew him it was impossible for me and I know a lot of the other writers felt the same way. He is so talented and great singer and songwriter and musician and to have people rooting for bad things to happen to him was hard.
WaH: Whose performance surprised you most this season?
CK: Oddly, Lennon Stella as Maddie has come a long way. She’s obviously growing up in real life and she’s getting her chops up and that’s really fun to watch.
WaH: I looked up up the writing and directing numbers for your show (via wikipedia) and it looks like in season 1 you have 14 episodes written and 7 directed by women (there are some people who wrote and directed multiple episodes) and this season there were 16 written and one co-written by women and 7 directed by women. Those are amazing numbers.
CK: Isn’t that funny.
WaH: Did you know that?
CK: No. We don’t keep track. We have a lot of women on the staff, obviously. It’s a predominantly female writing staff and we hire the best people. It’s not like we go we need more women or we need four women directing. We get the best people we can get and it turns out a lot of them are women. I’ve said this before If you hire people solely on their merit you wind up hiring a lot of women. I wonder how many other shows even come close to our numbers.
WaH: I wouldn’t say very many. (Note to self – this is a good research project.)
CK: That makes me happy
WaH: What’s the status for season 3?
CK: We are waiting for the renewal call.
WaH: Are you feeling positive about it?
CK: I am. The network stays positive. Personally, and this won’t be a surprise to anybody, I think we are in a pretty tough time slot for this show. I think we’d have a little easier go of it if we were on at 9 just in terms of live viewership.
WaH: And Wednesday is a tough day.
CK: Yeah. It’s literally hump day. Obviously we value our female fans and it’s not just an optimal time for instance for mothers to watch the show.
WaH: Have you seen a demographic breakdown. Is it more women than men who watch the show?
CK: I have not seen a breakdown. That would also be interesting to see. What’s really interesting to me and this it totally from a an anecdotal point of view – is how many men watch the show. A lot of well known musicians watch the show which is really gratifying. They love the cast and they love the music and I’m really happy that I can be appealing to the audience that you might not think would be looking forward to this. A lot of guys tell me that they started watching it with their wives and we also hear the word addicted a lot.
WaH: And now you are branching with a concert tour. How did that come about?
CK: This was something from the very beginning that we thought would be a total natural step. It was always part of the plan. The first season was so difficult and we shot such long hours and the hiatus was so short so there wasn’t a good way to do it. This season went much more smoothly. Everyone was way more comfortable and more experienced. And it was a real natural thing and everyone wanted to do it.
WaH: I have a question from twitter where someone asked if you have ever rethought the ending of Thelma and Louise and if you would end it in the same way again.
CK: I would write it the same way. And no, I’ve never had a moment’s doubt that that was the correct ending.
WaH: Do you want to talk a little bit about the character of Will and his struggle with his sexuality.
CK: Let me put it this way If you can point to a real country music star that is out and successful I’d love to hear about. I can’t think of one. I don’t see the country audience looking forward to an out male singer. There are rumors about people but no one ever confirms because there is a tremendous amount of money at stake. You are asking someone to give up their movie star status and they say fuck you very much. It’s remains a very hetero world.
WaH: What do you want people to think about while watching the last two episodes?
CK: Mainly what I want them to be hoping that the show is going to come back next season because they want to know what happens. I really want them to be thinking about how complicated life really is. We leave all of these people with choices that are so difficult including whether or not to quit and start over again. It’s all about which choice are you going to make.