“The Fien Print” on ABC’s NASHVILLE

Even we can enjoy a good soap. (Hey, can’t always be supercool, y’know?) And wouldn’t it be wonderful if this turned out to be just that? Gotta love the smell of betrayal in the morning! Yeah!

Take Me To The Pilots ’12: ABC’s ‘Nashville’ – by Daniel Fienberg

The Pitch:“Take ‘Dallas,’ replace oil with country music, transplant it to Nashville and… BAM!” Or, if you prefer… “You know how NOBODY saw ‘Country Strong’? We could ditch the title, turn it into a TV show and nobody would ever know.”

ABC’s “Nashville” has every element in place to be a potentially great show. Or at least it has every element in place to be a fun primetime soap in an underutilized location with perhaps a little extra substance. And maybe the problem that I have with this pilot, which is solidly written by Callie Khouri and solidly directed by R.J. Cutler, is that it just has too many elements in place and no way to do justice to all of those elements in 42 minutes. Every time I got into one plotline or another, I was abruptly yanked out and forced into another and just when I settled in and decided I was interested in that plotline, it was off to something else. I got no cumulative impact out of the pilot at all, but I could see how I’d happily watch a series that ACTUALLY focused on Connie Britton’s Reba-esque Raya (kinda an inverted Mrs Coach, as a woman whose long overshadowed husband decides he wants his own profile) or Hayden Panettiere’s Taylor Swift-esque Juliette (kinda an emotionally wounded, sexually voracious singing dwarf) or Powers Boothe’s Lamar (kinda JR Ewing, only played by Powers Boothe) or the sweet dynamic between Sam Palladio and Clare Bowen (like a country-tinged “Once”).

What I didn’t buy was the attempt, at least in the pilot, to pretend like all of the storylines had equal value, when they clearly don’t. Boothe and Britton are, of course, two actors who I’d watch do just about anything and this has the potential to be the best project for Britton since “Friday Night Lights” and for Boothe since “Hatfields & McCoys” (yes, I’m well aware that those projects were two years and one year ago). Panettiere doesn’t have their chops, but she’s actually perfectly cast in this role and I love the visual dexterity required to frame her in a way in which she looks full-sized.

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EDITED TO ADD: Speaking of NASHVILLE, this just in. The original showrunner, Jim Parriott, has been replaced by Dee Johnson. Hmm…

THELMA AND LOUISE Writer Producing NASHVILLE for ABC

…And we’re all for it. Law-breakin’ wimmens! Gun fights! Killer babes on a bloody trail through the South! Who could ask for more?

Producers Callie Khouri, R.J. Cutler On ‘Nashville'” TCA

Oscar-winning Thelma And Louise screenwriter Callie Khouri found herself this morning at TCA on a panel promoting the new ABC serialized ensemble drama Nashville starring Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere that might best be described as “Dallas in Tennessee.”

Khouri is an executive producer of the new series. And if it seemed weird that such an esteemed feature scribe (who also wrote Something To Talk About and Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood) would be producing her first series for TV, her partner on the project is equally odd: R.J. Cutler, known primarily for his unscripted shows and whose past projects have included the likes of Flip That House and Greatest American Dog.

Khouri admitted this kind of project is brand new for her but that she’s having a blast doing it. “I’m actually loving it because with a feature, you do it and it’s over”, she said. “But I’m getting to sit with some absolutely incredible writers and fan out stories that go on for a long time. And so I can plan for characters to go through things and go through changes that you would never be able to do in a feature film, because you cover such a long period of time. And I love that. It’s so much fun. It’s writing at a much faster pace than I’m used to, but that’s the only thing I’m having trouble with. Everything else about it is just so inspiring, to be able to take each character on a long journey and see them change, see them grow and put them through trial by fire.”

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…And then tell us what it’s about. Because we honestly couldn’t make ourselves read any further than “DALLAS in Tennessee.” No killer wimmens? No bloody trails? But it’ll have lotsa conniving bitches, right? And dimly lit shots of them doing the nasty? Please say it will. Please…