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ABC's 'Nashville' filming brings stars and money to Music City

Posted on: Friday - Aug 10, 2012

Nashville Business Journal by Jamie McGee, Staff Writer

Filming for "Nashville" is now underway at the Music Row Roundabout.

Anyone who drove through the Music Row Roundabout Monday noticed that the "Nashville" series has begun filming. Local filmmakers and entertainment leaders are confident that the show's economic boost will extend well beyond the actors’ paychecks.

"This has the potential to be the biggest deal in the production community that we've had," said Curt Hahn, CEO of Nashville-based Film House production company. "Unlike a movie that comes and shoots here for 10 or 20 or 30 or 40 days at the most and goes away, 'Nashville' has the potential to provide scores of days of production work each year indefinitely, as long as the series is renewed."

The show, produced by Lionsgate, ABC Studios and Gaylord Entertainment (NYSE: GET), is expected to employ more than 350 Tennesseans, according to the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, which has provided a $7.5 million reimbursable grant that will based on the production's Tennessee expenditures.

Beyond lighting and sound technicians, film crews, caterers and transportation companies benefiting from the show's production, the music industry also has much to gain, as much of the musical scoring recording and publishing will be done here, the department said in a release.

GALLERY: 'Nashville' filming at the Music Row Roundabout.

"It is one of the more music-intensive shows I've seen in a long time," said Joe Galante, former chairman of Sony Music Nashville, remarking on the show's pilot. "I think it represents a real opportunity for new and established artists and even catalog artists to receive exposure plus income from licensing of the songs… It's all found money for both the writers and publishers and record companies in terms of licensing of those songs."

The show, written by Oscar-winner Callie Khouri ("Thelma & Louise"), features Connie Britton ("Friday Night Lights") playing Rayna James, an established country star having to share the spotlight with the sexy, rising sensation Juliette Barnes, played by Hayden Panetierre ("Heroes"). The show also highlights Rayna's family challenges that involve a powerful, wealthy father and a husband considering a political career, according to ABC's website.

"The basic plotline holds an awful lot of potential because each week you have to spin off a new story," Hahn said. "It seems like the music business as an entity provides lots of fertile ground for multiple story lines like that."

Entertainment leaders are hoping the story lines keep the show around for more than one season.

"This is so far one of the biggest and most sustained projects we have had," said Peter Kurland, business agent for Local 492, an International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees union representing Tennessee television workers. "If they order more episodes there could be a crew this size working literally for years."

Jamie McGee covers tourism, entertainment and technology.