Billy Ray Cyrus, Kellie Pickler Cast in New CMT Comedies

Other New CMT Programming Includes First-Ever Nightly Talk Show, NASCAR Event

Billy Ray Cyrus and Kellie Pickler will star in two brand new series for CMT, the network announced Thursday (April 2) during a presentation in New York City.

CMT will also produce its first-ever nightly talk show, The Josh Wolf Show, starring comedian Josh Wolf and produced by Chelsea Handler. Other projects include The Ed Bassmaster Show (starring YouTube phenomenon Ed Bassmaster), Gainesville (a coming-of-age docu-series from the award-winning producers of Brick City) and American Speed: The True Story of NASCAR (a first-of-its-kind limited series event narrated by Dale Earnhardt Jr.).

The new shows are part of CMT’s expansion of original programming, including five new series, a NASCAR event and several returning favorites such as Party Down South, Party Down South 2 and Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge.

Scheduled to debut early next year, Cyrus stars in Still the King, a scripted comedy featuring the singer, songwriter and actor in the role of Vernon Brown -- aka Burnin’ Vernon -- a scandal-ridden, washed-up one-hit wonder who is kicked out of country music, only to emerge 20 years later as the second-best Elvis impersonator in Laughlin, Nevada.

After crashing into an old country church outside of Nashville during a drunken bender, he is sentenced to return and perform community service. Along the way, he pretends to be the congregation’s new minister and discovers he has a 15-year-old daughter he’s never met.

Still the King is produced by Hideout Pictures with Cyrus serving as executive producer and writer. Shannon Houchins, Potsy Ponciroli and Travis Nicholson also executive produce. Julia Silverton and Jayson Dinsmore executive produce for CMT.

With a working title of I Love Kellie Pickler, the American Idol finalist’s series details the life of the singer who was catapulted from small-town obscurity to become a household name on Idol and Dancing With the Stars. Recognized and beloved for her quirky personality, uniquely hysterical witticisms and Southern charm, the series will follow her marriage to Kyle Jacobs -- her complete opposite.

Slated to premiere in September, I Love Kellie Pickler is produced by Ryan Seacrest Productions. Joining Seacrest, Pickler and Jacobs as executive producers are Eugene Young and Rabih Gholam. Dinsmore and Morgan Selzer executive produce for CMT.

In other programming news unveiled Thursday, the entire series of Friday Night Lights, the acclaimed drama starring Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton will also begin airing in May.

Other new original series and specials premiering this spring include:

Gainesville (May 14): From an Emmy Award-winning documentary team comes the new a docu-series following a tight-knit group of friends in small town Florida as they attempt to transition into adulthood.

The Josh Wolf Show (June 11): Airing nightly (Wednesday-Saturday), the topical comedy show features panel discussions, interviews and sketches with stars from the worlds of country, Hollywood and beyond.

The Ed Bassmaster Show (June 17): From the producers of MTV’s Teen Wolf, Kesha: My Crazy Beautiful Life and The Andy Milonakis Show, Ed Bassmaster is breaking out from YouTube to join CMT in his first-ever TV show where he’ll unleash an astonishing range of characters on unsuspecting members of the general public. With more than 1.9 million YouTube subscribers and 472 million views, Bassmaster is fast becoming a household name known for his pranks and skits.

In addition to Still the King, programming for early next year includes:

American Speed: The True Story of NASCAR: The most in-depth, high-octane account of the gritty true story behind NASCAR comes roaring to life in the limited series narrated by two-time Daytona 500 winner and racing royalty Dale Earnhardt Jr.

CMT Championship Kickoff Party: Airing in January, CMT Championship Kickoff Party is an officially-sanctioned, 90-minute concert special live from the host city of the College Football Playoff National Championship. In a weekend full of festivities, CMT and a list of superstar friends kick it off with plenty of music during the biggest, loudest party of all.

This spring/summer, CMT will premiere new seasons of returning favorites, including:

Party Down South 2 (May 14): The crew returns for another unbridled and epic spring break in St. Petersburg, Florida.

2015 CMT Music Awards (June 10): It’s the biggest and loudest night in country music when stars and celebrity guests descend upon Nashville for an unforgettable night of performances and awards.

Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge (Aug. 2): The ultimate badass competition show returns with host Steve Austin as he brings eight elite athletes to his Broken Skull Ranch to test their strength, stamina and endurance. Each episode sees contestants go head-to-head until the last man or woman standing earns the right to take on the toughest obstacle course in America, the “Skullbuster,” for a chance to win $10,000 in cold, hard cash.

Party Down South (Aug. 20): Break out your beerzooka and start fishin’ for marlins as CMT’s biggest hit in its history returns for the loudest and wildest summer vacation yet.

CMT Artists of the Year (early December): The country music community celebrates its own when CMT Artists of the Year returns for a sixth year to honor the top country acts of 2015. In an evening filled with performances and special celebrity guests, CMT applauds the honorees’ impact on the genre including sales, radio and touring accomplishments over the past year.

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