ABC’s “Nashville” is losing the man responsible for its music — recording artist and legendary producer T Bone Burnett.
It could be a significant blow for a series that relies so heavily on the authenticity of its music. Burnett, 65, is one of the most-respected musicians and producers in the music industry, including the real-life Nashville. In addition, he’s married to the ABC series’ creator, Callie Khouri.
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Nevertheless, Burnett won’t be back as musical director for the country-music drama’s second season, according to this story on the Hollywood Reporter Web site.
The reason: Too many other commitments, according to a statement to The Reporter from Burnett’s manager. “His slate of other film, television and recording projects would have made it impossible for him to return for a second season,” the statement said. “He became close to many of the actors on ‘Nashville,’ and wishes all of them — as well as the show’s producers, writers and crew — all the best with the coming season.”
The story said Burnett had only planned to work on the show for its first season. Buddy Miller, who worked with Burnett during the first season on the show’s music, will be elevated to musical director.
The THR story even had a statement from Burnett’s wife, the show’s creator. She said her husband’s projects in the coming year include writing the score for a new Coen brothers movie, and producing an album for Elton John.
Still, you can’t help but wonder whether Burnett’s absence will deal a blow to the show. Under his musical direction, the show’s actors — principally Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere — were well-trained to come across convincingly as country-music stars. In addition, a number of real-life Nashville stars and personalities appeared on the series this past season — probably in part because of the prestige Burnett brought to the show.
He’s worked with dozens of superstars in his 40-year, Grammy-winning career, including Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Elvis Costello, Tony Bennett and countless others. And, as the THR story pointed out, he produced more than 100 of the songs heard on the show last season.