How CMT Transformed Nashville Into Its Most Successful (And Progressive) Show

In 2015, Rolling Stone said ABC’s Nashville “reflects real-life struggles in the entertainment industry.”  This was in reference to the country soap’s gay characters, Will Lexington (Chris Carmack) and Kevin Bix (Kyle Dean Massey).

At the time, Bix was a new addition to the Nashville family, and as an openly gay singer, struggled to have a successful career. Lexington was hiding his sexual identity from his fans, while flourishing professionally.

Flash forward to 2017. Nashville moved to CMT for its fifth season earlier this year. Now, Lexington is out and proud, realizing he could still embrace his role as a country music star as an LGBT individual after being forced out of the closet in season three by a rival musician.

Since joining the CMT roster, Nashville has become the network’s highest-rated and most-watched series ever. Even after losing a beloved main character (Rayna James) in a tragic car crash, the show has remained wildly successful.

At least part of this success can be attributed to CMT’s inventive and progressive storyline and character development. Take Lexington’s evolution, for example. Entertainment blog Cinemablend commended CMT on “sprucing up” his character, giving him more than just romantic story arcs and LGBT-drama to fill his screen time.

Even the network’s portrayal of his sexuality has adopted more realistic angles. Even though Music City is full of heartbreak and drama, being a gay country singer doesn’t have to be riddled with conflict. In a recent episode that aired during Pride Month, Lexington got the opportunity to be a brand spokesperson for Budweiser.

Watch the fictional spot:

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Daphne Finds Comfort in Daria as Nashville Returns to CMT on June 1

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

When Nashville returns to CMT from its mid-season break tonight, fans can expect more immersion into the fictional and fascinating country music scene of the show’s eponymous city. But the show takes a musically adventurous turn in this preview clip of Daphne (Maisy Stella), who is apparently a huge fan of MTV’s classic show Daria.

Presumably still reeling from the death of her mother, Rayna (Connie Britton), and struggling in school, Daphne stumbles out of the mainstream and befriends exuberant vagabond Liv (Odessa Adlon), who squats in a junk-laden abandoned industrial space alongside a posse of self-described “people that nobody cares about.”

When Liv interrupts a palm reading to calm a crying toddler with You’re Standing on My Neck, the Daria theme song, Daphne joins in amazed recognition.

“You’ve seen Daria?” Liv asks, impressed (the two teenagers were likely infants when the show last ran new episodes, in 2002), before rallying her motley housemates in a change jar-clanging singalong.

What do you think, Daria? Pretty cool, right?

via GIPHY

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Unity Spans the Globe for Viacommunity Day’s 21st Year

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Lisa Di Venuta contributed reporting.

In an enormous show of support for local communities around the world, more than 4,000 Viacom employees threw themselves into the 21st annual Viacommunity Day last Friday. It was themed as a day of unity, bringing employees from every part of the company together at more than 150 projects sites across the United States and more than a dozen other nations, a collective effort that underscored Viacom’s unwavering dedication to putting our resources, skills, energies and collective will toward improving our communities.

“Viacommunity has a long legacy with our company,” said Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish, standing among a group of employees outside of a Boys & Girls Club in New Rochelle, 20 miles north of Times Square in the New York City suburbs. “I remember when I joined the company in 1997 in the early days of Viacommunity, and it’s always been a day, throughout different management teams, throughout different phases of the media business, where we would take a day and allow people to give back to their communities. This is all evidence that communities matter. That’s what Viacommunity is all about.”

 

Viacommunity Day 2017 Recap Video from Viacom on Vimeo.

Support for the effort transcended our employee ranks, reaching into the celebrity Twittersphere:

Events began early in the morning, spreading west from our outposts in Asia and Australia and following the sun across Europe and Africa and then jumping the Atlantic. The Viacommunity spirit rippled from the five boroughs of New York City and across the suburbs, west to Tennessee and finally California, where Paramount locked in the Viacommunity Day Cup for the second consecutive year.

Below is just a small sampling of the energy, enthusiasm, and effort that our volunteers injected into their communities over the course of a single day.

A Viacom employee gets psyched for Viacommunity Day 2017 in front of Viacom's Times Square headquarters.

A Viacom employee gets psyched for Viacommunity Day 2017 in front of 1515 Broadway.

CALIFORNIA – Paramount Repeats as Viacommunity Day Cup Champions

With the highest percentage of employees participating in Viacommunity Day out of any Viacom division, Paramount locked in the Viacommunity Day Cup for the second consecutive year. Employees had spent the past 12 months passing their prize around, Stanley Cup style, with different groups holding the trophy for a week at a time. Taking the cup again is a testament to how deeply entrenched the Viacommunity spirit is on the lot, where longstanding relationships with local schools and organizations fuse with individual efforts to create an atmosphere rich with giving.

The Fulfillment Fund

The commitment was evident on Paramount’s Hollywood lot on Friday morning, when a bus pulled in to pick up more than two dozen employee volunteers. It was already loaded with 25 students and four chaperones from Alexander Hamilton High School in west Los Angeles. They were headed six miles south, beneath the 10 freeway and to the campus of the University of Southern California (USC). On a separate bus, 25 Viacom employees were heading in the same direction from the company’s shiny new Hollywood building, stopping to pick up an additional 17 students from Helen Bernstein High School before rendezvousing at the university.

The Fulfillment Fund, an organization that focuses on orienting high-risk students toward college, was way ahead of both groups. They’d set up a unique tour: a campus-wide scavenger hunt for groups of students and volunteer mentors to navigate together. What’s the name of the campus bookstore? Which year was the arts building dedicated? Which years did USC football win the Rose Bowl? Four versions of the hunt helped to disperse the laughing, giddy students across the hot campus and avoid overcrowding at any one site.

Among the Viacom and Paramount volunteers were seven USC alumni and at least two graduates of Hamilton High School. Site captain Lori Nakama, a director of creative services for digital and television distribution in home media who was participating in her seventh Viacommunity Day, was among them.

“This is one of my favorite days of the year,” she said. “I love getting to work with people in the company that I don’t normally get to talk to. We’re so busy here that, a lot of times, I don’t leave my desk. So I don’t get to meet somebody who works in theatrical, or in finance, or in theatrical finance. So at Viacommunity Day, you not only are building a community within the community, but a community within the company.”

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See What Drove Viacom’s Q2 2017 Business Results – and What’s Coming Next

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Viacom reported its Q2 2017 earnings this morning behind strong performances across our portfolio. Click through the slideshow below to see what drove our business this quarter, and to get a preview of what we’re excited about coming up. Click over to Viacom Investor Relations for more details about this quarter’s earnings.

CMT Releases First Nashville Trailer; Date of Sneak Peak

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

We teased Nashville back in September, when CMT released its first teaser of season five and announced a Jan. 5 debut date. The net has not only come back with the first official trailer for the series, but a gift for anxious fans: the first hour of the two-hour season premiere will air on Thursday, Dec. 15 at 9 p.m.

You can get more details on the intrigue and the excitement to expect here. But, really, you should be following @NashvilleCMT on Twitter or Facebook to make sure you get the latest updates as soon as they’re released.

Check Out This Video Calendar of Viacom’s Upcoming Premieres

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

There’s a whole lot coming up at Viacom over the next few months.

Paramount sends aliens hurtling from the cosmos and Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard back to World War II. Denzel Washington and Viola Davis dazzle in Fences while Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman burn down the city in Office Christmas Party.

Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg team up on VH1really – for what is likely to be the dopest cooking show around. America’s Next Top Model returns to the same net. We wave goodbye to MTV’s Teen Wolf, but meet a pair of bad-ass campus vigilantes on Sweet/Vicious.

Original content continues to rule across our networks, from TV Land’s smash hit Younger to CMT’s January debut of Nashville to BET’s Being Mary Jane and New Edition biopic. Spike delivers some hard truth with a documentary on the tragic story of Kalief Browder.

And more favorites keep pouring back in: RuPaul returns with season six of RuVealed on Logo while The Daily Show With Trevor Noah and @Midnight continue their runs on Comedy Central.

And for the kiddos, Nick keeps the incredible stuff coming with Albert and Rusty Rivetsalong with a nostalgic run back to the 90s with a Legends of the Hidden Temple movie.

Watch previews of all of this and much more below:

Free Preview: Epix Launches Pair of Original Series – Spy Serial and Presidential Renaissance

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

You probably know Epix as a warehouse for the highlights of Hollywood weekends past. From 1917’s The Eye of Envy to recent releases Whisky Tango Foxtrot and Daddy’s Home, the depth and quality of the library is stunning (check it out here and try their awesome filtering tool).

But like Viacom brands CMT (Nashville, Still The King) and TV Land (Younger, Impastor, Teachers, Lopez – check out their glimmering new website), Epix is mixing original series into their lineup, starting with the duo of Berlin Station and Graves – and you can watch the first two episodes of each for free.

Graves is set in an alt-reality America where President Richard Graves (Nick Nolte) is stumbling through life decades after his two-term presidency ends. Tended by a flock of aides, security teams, and fellow politicians-in-retirement coordinated through his wife (Sela Ward), the 42nd president grumbles through his days with a despondent resignation. At the end of another day of labored tedium, the Republican folk hero sits alone in his palatial desert compound and Googles, “Who was the worst president in history?” The search results launch him into a frenzy of shocked self-realization that will reverberate across society. Check out the preview below, then watch the first two episodes here.

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Nashville Heads Toward CMT – Check Out a Season Five Preview

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

CMT continued its charge into original programming by picking up Nashville earlier this year, and we finally have a little preview  of what we’ll see when the show returns in January. The nashie_cmt team released this promo video on Instagram recently:

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The 5,000 Pound CMT #InternVolunteerDay

What happens when you combine a Saturday afternoon, the largest food bank in Tennessee, and CMT’s summer 2016 interns? Over 5,000 pounds of food collected and sorted to feed the hungry throughout the state.

With seven participants representing CMT, we joined forces with Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee to help end the fight against hunger in America. Second Harvest is an organization that works with more than 450 partner agencies to ensure that men, women and children throughout the state have access to food and basic personal care needs.

CMT Intern Volunteer Day

From left to right: Chelsea Gant (Social Media intern), Elaheh Ziglari (Business & Legal Affairs intern), Betsy Howard (Human Resources intern), Jennifer Teeter (Creative Services: On-Air Graphics intern), and Erica Greskoviak (Creative Services: Short-Form Programming intern)

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