TV

CMT Doubles Original Programming

Concert of the Summer, Casting for Million Dollar Quartet Among Plans Revealed in New York

CMT is increasing its slate of original award-winning programming, music events and documentaries, including a new annual music tent-pole event Concert of the Summer, the first round of casting for Million Dollar Quartet (working title) and a second season order for I Love Kellie Pickler.

CMT also revealed the premiere dates for Still the King, The Dude Perfect Show and NASCAR: The Rise of American Speed during the network’s annual upfront presentation held Thursday (March 3) at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City.

“Much like our hometown of Nashville, CMT embraces both tradition and change, CMT president Brian Philips said. “This year, we are doubling our original programming to celebrate the bigger and broader country fan base. We’re crafting stories and characters that are multifaceted and unexpected.”

Scripted Programs
This year, CMT makes an ambitious move into scripted programming with the premieres of Still the King and Million Dollar Quartet.

Coming this November, Million Dollar Quartet, produced by Thinkfactory Media’s Leslie Greif (Hatfields & McCoys) and directed by Oscar nominee Roland Joffé, is a coming-of-age story set in the unraveling world of 1950s Memphis where music and race collide, ultimately creating pop music’s first superstars.

After a nationwide casting call held last month at Elvis Presley’s high school alma mater in Memphis, CMT has cast Drake Milligan as young Elvis Presley, Kevin Fonteyne (Masters of Sex, Melissa & Joey) as Johnny Cash, twins Christian Lees (Tale of Tales, Parents) and Jonah Lees (Tale of Tales, Eric & Ernie) as cousins Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart, respectively. Additional cast members will be announced at a later date.

During Thursday’s event in New York, Fonteyne and Milligan wowed the audience as they performed together for the first time as Cash and Presley.

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 03:  (L-R) Brian Philips, Drake Milligan, Cyma Zarghami, Kevin Fonteyne and Jayson Dinsmore attend the 2016 Viacom Kids and Family Group Upfront on March 3, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Viacom) Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Viacom

The comedy Still the King debuts June 12 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, a few days after the 2016 CMT Music Awards. The series boasts an impressive ensemble cast with Billy Ray Cyrus, Joey Lauren Adams (Big Daddy, Mall Rats), Madison Iseman (Laid in America, Nickelodeon’s Henry Danger), Lacey Chabert (Mean Girls, Party of Five), Leslie David Baker (The Office), Kevin Farley (The Waterboy), Travis Nicholson and Jon Sewell.

Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Viacom

Still the King follows Vernon (Cyrus), a scandal-ridden, washed-up, one-hit-wonder who crashes back into the life of his ex (Adams) and discovers he had a daughter (Iseman) he knew nothing about.

Music
CMT’s award-winning slate of music programming and events continues to expand, including three tent-pole events (CMT Music Awards, CMT Concert of the Summer and CMT Artists of the Year) as well as four new episodes of the fan-favorite CMT Crossroads.

The network’s signature event, the 2016 CMT Music Awards, premieres June 8 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Also this summer, CMT teams up with one of country’s biggest stars to redefine the concert-going experience, giving fans an all-access pass and an unforgettable look at one of the year’s most sought after tickets with the inaugural music event, Concert of the Summer.

The definitive year-end celebration, CMT Artists of the Year, premieres live on Oct. 19 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Beginning this spring, CMT debuts four new episodes of its critically acclaimed genre-blending music series CMT Crossroads. Episodes feature Jason Derulo and Luke Bryan (summer), Nick Jonas and Thomas Rhett (summer), Cheap Trick and Jennifer Nettles (March 24 at 11 p.m. ET/PT) and Rob Thomas and Charles Kelley (late spring).

Documentaries
CMT original documentaries tell authentic and provocative stories with an unexpected point-of-view. Having notched three critically-acclaimed documentaries watched by more than 25 million viewers, CMT’s slate this year includes the high-octane three-night event NASCAR: The Rise of American Speed (May 8, 15, 22 at 10 p.m. ET/PT), as well South by Southwest-selected original documentaries The Bandit in August and Chicken People in November.

Unscripted Programming
Featuring a mix of new and returning favorites, CMT’s unscripted series celebrate the audience’s best attributes in new and unexpected ways.

The highly-anticipated The Dude Perfect Show, whose trailer was released today to their 25 million fans, kicks off April 14 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.


Known for their wildly popular trick shot and stunt videos, the series from producer Rob Dyrdek (MTV’s Ridiculousness and Fantasy Factory) follows the five viral sensations as they open the doors to their man cave in Dallas to showcase exactly how they cook up their next crazy idea. The debut season will feature appearances from Luke Bryan, Chris Paul, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Aaron Rogers and more.

On the heels of scoring CMT’s highest-rated series premiere since 2012 and highest with women since 2008, I Love Kellie Pickler from executive producer Ryan Seacrest returns for a second season in August, along with the 11th season of the fan-favorite Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team, which is coming off its highest-rated season to date.

Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Viacom