CMT said at its upfront presentation today that it is doubling its original programming with a slew of reality, music and documentary programs along with its previously announced first forays into the scripted arena. The cable net also announced premiere dates for its inaugural scripted comedy Still the King, unscripted stunt series The Dude Perfect Show and miniseries NASCAR: The Rise of American Speed.
“Much like our hometown of Nashville, CMT embraces both tradition and change,” said Brian Philips, President of CMT. “This year, we are doubling our original programming to celebrate the bigger and broader country fan base. We’re crafting stories and characters that are multifaceted and unexpected.”
CMT also said it has finalized the cast for Million Dollar Quartet (working title), its adaptation on the Tony-winning musical. Drake Milligan will play pre-fame Elvis Presley, Kevin Fontaine is Johnny Cash, and twins Christian Lees and Jonah Lee are cousins Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggert, respectively. Other cast, including the Carl Perkins and Sam Phillips roles, will be announced later. The eight-episode limited series will debut during the November sweep.
Here is a more complete list, with synopses provided by CMT:
This year, CMT makes an ambitious move into scripted programming with the premieres of “Still The King” and “Million Dollar Quartet.”
Coming this November, “Million Dollar Quartet,” produced by Leslie Grief (“Hatfields & McCoys”) and directed by Oscar nominee Roland Joffé, is a coming-of-age story set in the unraveling world of 1950s Memphis where music and race collide, ultimately creating pop music’s first superstars.
After a nationwide casting call held at Elvis Presley’s high school alma mater in Memphis last month, CMT has cast Drake Milligan as young Elvis Presley, Kevin Fonteyne (“Masters of Sex,” “Melissa & Joey”) as Johnny Cash, and twins Christian Lees (“Tale of Tales,” and “Parents”) and Jonah Lees (“Tale of Tales,” “Eric & Ernie”) as cousins Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart, respectively. Additional cast members will be announced at a later date. During the Upfront event, Fonteyne and Milligan wowed the audience as they performed together for the first time as Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley.