Adam DiVello, who made Los Angeles and New York City the aspirational backdrops for two signature MTV reality hits — The Hills and The City, respectively — turns his lens on Nashville with his latest unscripted series, Music City.
Created and executive-produced by DiVello, the show follows a group of artists hoping to make it big in country music. It premieres on CMT March 1.
"I feel like Nashville's the organic next choice [for a docuseries]. It's a hip town, they've got a great social scene, and there're all these people chasing musical stardom," DiVello says. His love for the drama series Nashville, which will end its run on CMT later this year, inspired him to explore life in country music's capital.
Whatever the city, people pursuing their passion is familiar territory for DiVello. The Hills trailed Laguna Hills breakout star Lauren Conrad when she moved to L.A. to study fashion. "But the stakes on this show are higher, because our cast is a little bit older," DiVello says.
The Music City cast members are in their late 20s and early 30s; Kerry Degman uprooted his family — moving from Venice, California, with wife Rachyl Degman and their two-year-old son — to go after a singing career. "Rachyl is not in the music business and is grappling with being in Nashville to support her husband," DiVello teases.
The cast also includes Jessica Mack, aka JMack, a singer originally from Little Rock, Arkansas. Jackson Boyd, a personal trainer and Nashville local, was initially cast because he was so charismatic, and it was only during production that he revealed his talent for singing.
Like DiVello's previous unscripted series, Music City does not incorporate interviews with its subjects, instead allowing viewers to observe what's happening. So one of the keys in casting was finding people who had relatable stories and were also expressive. "Lauren Conrad was the queen of that. Her face was like an open book," DiVello reflects. "You could tell what she was thinking even when she wasn't speaking, and I think we've found that again with this cast."
"This show will speak to our core viewers," pre- dicts Keith Cox, president, development and production, for Paramount Network, TV Land and CMT. "And fans of Adam's other shows have gotten older, and they're right in our demo — it will speak to them, too. You always look for your new shows to speak to your base and bring in viewers from the outside."
If hopes pay off, Music City will launch some music industry careers, too. While emmy was on the phone with DiVello, he got an email with news that he couldn't keep to himself: "One of the cast members is getting a manager!"
This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 1, 2018