Adam DiVello has taken viewers to the beaches of Orange Country, the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles and the streets of New York. But in his latest series, DiVello is moving from urban chic to country.
Music City follows a group of emerging young artists as they attempt to pursue careers in the country music epicenter of Nashville, Tennessee.
Produced by Done and Done Productions in association with Lionsgate, the eight-part series will air tonight (March 1) on Viacom-owned channel CMT.
The series is partly envisioned as a companion program to CMT’s scripted series Nashville, which the network picked up after it was cancelled by ABC in 2016. Nashville chronicles the lives of fictional emerging and established country musicians.
DiVello, who in 2015 signed a multi-year overall deal with Lionsgate to develop and produce unscripted programming, thought Nashville‘s setting was a natural fit for unscripted. What’s more, he felt its premise would lend itself well to the approach he perfected in the development of MTV’s Laguna Beach, The Hills and The City.
“If Laguna Beach was Beverly Hills 90210 and The Hills was Melrose Place, then Nashville seemed ripe for a reality version,” he says.
Like those earlier series, Music City eschews confessionals where the cast speaks to the camera. Instead, DiVello has relied on music to drive the storytelling. “I’ve always loved to use music in my series as part of a storytelling process,” he says. “In the past, we’ve often used the occasional pop song to tell the story, but in this case I was excited about taking advantage of working with musicians who play their own instruments and sing their own songs.”
Much like his other teen-friendly docusoaps, Music City follows a team of central characters. But while Laguna Beach focused on a group of teens in high school and The Hills followed a group of young adults looking to find their place in the world, the individuals featured in Music City are part of an older crowd. The stakes are higher than for their teen counterparts.
For example, a couple featured in the series, Kerry and Rachyl, struggle with balancing Kerry’s touring schedule, which often leaves Rachyl in Nashville caring for their young son.
Elsewhere, singer-songwriter Jessica searches for romance with Jackson, a personal trailer born and bred in Nashville, while working musician Bryant encourages Alisa to follow her dreams of becoming a performer.
“Just like with other shows, it comes down to finding the right cast,” said DiVello. “We weren’t looking for signed recording artists, or anything to that level — we wanted to follow along as people chased their dreams.”
Part and parcel with working with a more mature cast is the potential to appeal to a more mature audience. DiVello says Nashville‘s audience covers a wide spectrum of age ranges, so he hopes those viewers will tune in along with fans of his previous series.
“People are attracted to a good story,” he says. “The way my team and I present these stories and get [audiences] invested in characters — with this one, even more so than previous ones, [the cast] is putting it all on the line.”