Nashville executive producer Callie Khouri has not only spent time living in Nashville, she's also married to a decorated music industry vet — Grammy- and Oscar-winning musician/record producer T-Bone Burnett (Crazy Heart). It's those bona fides that give the Thelma and Louise screenwriter the cred to create her first TV show. The music-heavy new drama (Wednesdays, 10/9c, ABC), starring Connie Britton as an aging country superstar and Hayden Panettiere as her young, pop-centric rival, was named best new show by just about every critic this fall. Khouri answered our showrunner survey to explain why we should saddle up to Nashville.
TV Guide Magazine: I've got room in my life for one more show. Why should it be yours?
Callie Khouri: Because we're the turducken of television: We've got music, drama, comedy, politics and the best-looking cast since good looking casts were invented, all packed into 42 minutes. Hopefully there's something here for everybody.
TV Guide Magazine: Who should be watching?
Khouri: If you can produce steam on a mirror, then this show's for you.
TV Guide Magazine: What happens if we don't watch your show?Khouri: Your baby leaves you. Your dog runs away. You lose your job. You get drunk. You go to prison. Your Mama cries. You hear that lonesome whistle blow. Seriously, not worth the risk.
TV Guide Magazine: Give us an equation for your show.
Khouri: Mash up several shows about a singular industry (ER, The West Wing, Mad Men), put them into a Tennessee whiskey barrel. Stir in original music. Then pour, serve and drink liberally.
TV Guide Magazine: What's the best thing anyone has said or written about your show?
Khouri: That we're the No.1 new show to watch this fall.
TV Guide Magazine: What's the worst thing?
Khouri: That we're the No. 1 new show this fall. (Who can live with that pressure?!)
TV Guide Magazine: What's an alternate title for your show?
Khouri: We couldn't come up with one, which is why it is called Nashville. Believe me, we tried.
TV Guide Magazine: Come up with a premise for the spin-off.
Khouri: When Breaking Bad wraps, Rayna [Britton] quits the music biz to sell meth in New Mexico. (I just don't want that show to end!)
TV Guide Magazine: What credit of yours would you prefer we forget?
Khouri: Thelma & Louise. KIDDING!
TV Guide Magazine: If you weren't producing this show, what series would you most like to be an executive producer on?
Khouri: I'd executive produce The Wire, the best show ever made. (After I build my time machine.)
TV Guide Magazine: Why is your cast the best on television?
Khouri: They just can't help it.
TV Guide Magazine: Let's scare the network. Tell us an idea that didn't make it to the screen.
Khouri: A concert scene with 80,000 extras.
TV Guide Magazine: What's your favorite country song of all time?
Khouri: There are far too many great country songs to have just one, but Patsy Cline's "I Fall to Pieces" and Hank Thompson's "The Wild Side of Life" are right up there, along with Lefty Frizzell's "I've Been Away Way Too Long." And "A Girl I Used To Know." And "Rose Colored Glasses." I could do this all day and night by the way. Don't even get me started on Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard. Or Loretta Lynn or Dolly Parton.
TV Guide Magazine: What's you favorite thing about working in TV verse in films?
Khouri: TV allows you to tell more stories about more characters. You can take your characters on nice long journeys.
TV Guide Magazine: Finish this sentence: If you like _______, you'll love Nashville.
TV Guide Magazine: What series would you like to do a cross-over episode with?
Khouri: 30 Rock. Liz Lemon is Minnie Pearl. Jack Donaghy, possessed by the spirit of Hank Williams, finally teaches Rayna Jaymes how to yodel during a Grand Ole Opry on Ice at Rockefeller Plaza. Or Breaking Bad. Walt and Skyler deserve a date night at The Opry.
TV Guide Magazine: How will your show change the face of TV as we know it?
Khouri: Not sure, but it will do it without plastic surgery.