CMT announces scripted drama about rise of rock and roll

CMT has announced it is partnering with the producer of the Emmy Award-winning miniseries Hatfields & McCoys to adapt the Tony Award-winning musical Million Dollar Quartet into an eight-episode limited-run scripted drama premiering later this year. The series is timed to the historic 60th anniversary of the famed Million Dollar Quartet recording sessions featuring icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.

Set in Memphis during the tumultuous early days of the civil rights movement, Million Dollar Quartet (working title) tells the untold true story of nothing less than the birth of rock ‘n’ roll. Guided by Sam Phillips, young musicians like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins combined the styles of hillbilly country with the 1950s R&B sound created by artists like Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Fats Domino and Ike Turner, and changed the course of music forever. The series chronicles these young artists’ often jarring and sudden meteoric rise to fame in the face of sweeping political change and social unrest.

CMT and Thinkfactory media have begun a nationwide casting search for actors to portray young Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, B.B. King, Ike Turner, Carl Perkins, Elvis’ girlfriend, Trixie Dean, and supporting roles. Auditions will be held at the historic Humes Preparatory Academy Middle School (formerly Humes High), Presley’s alma mater, on February 13th. The line for casting forms at 7 a.m. for a 9 a.m. casting call and those auditioning are asked to arrive in 1950s hair and wardrobe. Production is set to begin in Memphis this spring.

Million Dollar Quartet will capture the star-crossed Memphis moments which led to the most explosive pop culture movement of the 20th century, the birth of rock ‘n’ roll,” remarked Brian Philips, CMT president. “The characters are all larger than life, so casting is a daunting challenge, but we’re counting on the magic of Memphis to come alive again! This is among our most ambitious projects ever, and we entrust it to a proven epic filmmaker, Leslie Greif.”

“We are thrilled to be working with CMT as they enter the scripted drama arena,” said Leslie Greif, CEO & Founder of Thinkfactory Media. “At Thinkfactory Media, we pride ourselves in finding, developing and delivering products that fit the networks we work with, and Million Dollar Quartet is perfectly suited for CMT because of its deep ties to country music and Nashville. The entire Thinkfactory Media team and I are proud to be part of their expansion into rich new territory.”

Million Dollar Quartet is produced by Thinkfactory Media with Leslie Greif and Gil Grant serving as executive producers, Barry Berg as co-executive producer and Herb Nanas and Colin Escott as producers. Jayson Dinsmore and Julia Silverton executive produce for CMT.

Million Dollar Quartet marks one of two scripted series coming to CMT this year. This summer, CMT will premiere Still The King, an ensemble comedy starring Billy Ray Cyrus, Joey Lauren Adams (“Big Daddy,” “Mall Rats”), Madison Iseman (“Laid in America” and Nickelodeon’s “Henry Danger”) Lacey Chabert (“Mean Girls” and “Party of Five”), Leslie David Baker (“The Office”), Kevin Farley (“Eight Crazy Nights” and “The Waterboy”) and more.

Casting Call

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Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites. Email:
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