New CMT show adapts Tony award-winning musical rich in state’s history
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd announced today that the department approved a grant of up to $4.3 million for the CMT series “Million Dollar Quartet,” (working title) the untold true story of record producer Sam Phillips and his ground breaking studio, Sun Records.
Production is set to begin in Memphis this spring. The reimbursable grant will support a projected 160 film crew positions.
The series will focus on the lives of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins who collaborated in a 1956 recording session at Sun Records later called the Million Dollar Quartet. Those sessions are widely regarded as a seminal moment in the birth of rock ‘n’ roll.
“Memphis is the birth place of rock ‘n’ roll music, and we are ecstatic to be able to support a television series that tells the story of the city’s role in one of the most influential cultural phenomenon of the last century,” Boyd said. “This is truly a Tennessee story.”
Show producer Thinkfactory Media will hold a nationwide casting call for actors to portray a young Presley, Cash, Lewis, Perkins as well as BB King, Ike Turner and Trixie Dean, Presley’s girlfriend. The casting call will be held Saturday, Feb. 13 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (line to open at 7 a.m.) at Presley’s alma mater, the historic Humes Preparatory Academy in Memphis.
Sen. Mark Norris, R-Collierville, who helped to recruit the project to the state, said the production is an important win for the Memphis film community.
"Million Dollar Quartet and Memphis are made for each other. This is where music and history were made. This series brings history to life and breathes new life into the Memphis film and television market. I appreciate the hard work of TNECD, the Tennessee Entertainment Commission, the Memphis Film Commission, Thinkfactory Media and CMT in making it possible,” Norris said.
CMT President Brian Philips also said telling this story in Memphis was important to making such an important historical period come alive for the screen.
“Million Dollar Quartet will capture the star-crossed Memphis moments which led to the most explosive pop culture movement of the 20th Century, the birth of Rock and Roll,” Philips said. “The characters are all larger-than-life, so casting is a daunting challenge, but we’re counting on the magic of Memphis to come alive again!”
Other state leaders noted the series supports efforts in Tennessee to further brand the state using its ample musical heritage.
Tennessee Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Kevin Triplett said the series is well timed with the launch of the state’s Tennessee Music Pathway, a collection of important music sites between Memphis and Bristol.
“In Tennessee, you are never far away from music, and this series is going to continue to reinforce our state’s music brand,” Triplett said. “Americans and guests from around the world come to Tennessee to experience the musical heritage they love so much. Celebrating this event in film is further evidence, the soundtrack of America is made in Tennessee.”
Tennessee Entertainment Commission Executive Director Bob Raines added Million Dollar Quartet will revive an era of classic rock ‘n’ roll that will be enjoyed by old and new fans alike.
“The Tennessee Entertainment Commission is excited to welcome the production of Million Dollar Quartet to the state,” Raines said. “In addition to producing new jobs for our local crew base and providing revenue for the state’s production vendors, the series will introduce iconic Memphis legends and music to a new generation of fans.”
Memphis and Shelby County are represented by Sen. Mark Norris (R – Collierville), Sen. Brian Kelsey (R – Germantown), Sen. Reginald Tate (D – Memphis), Sen. Lee Harris (D – Memphis), Sen. Sara Kyle (D – Memphis), Rep. Jim Coley (R – Bartlett), Rep. Ron Lollar (R – Bartlett), Rep. Steve McManus (R – Cordova), Rep. Curry Todd (R – Collierville), Rep. Mark White (R – Memphis), Rep. Raumesh Akbari (D – Memphis), Rep. Karen Camper (D – Memphis), Rep. Barbara Cooper (D – Memphis), Rep. John DeBerry (D – Memphis), Rep. G.A. Hardaway (D – Memphis), Rep. Larry Miller (D – Memphis), Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D – Memphis), Rep. Joe Towns (D – Memphis) and Rep. Johnnie Turner (D – Memphis) in the Tennessee General Assembly.
About Thinkfactory Media
Thinkfactory Media is a full-service production company that creates high-quality entertainment content. Renowned for award-winning productions, the company was the driving force behind the Emmy® and Golden Globe®-nominated hit mini-series Hatfields & McCoys (History), starring Kevin Costner. Other recent credits include: The 10-hour television event Texas Rising (History), Marriage Boot Camp (We tv), Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars (We tv), Married By Mom and Dad (TLC), Dead of Winter: The Donner Party (The Weather Channel), Vet School (Nat Geo WILD) Preachers’ Daughters (Lifetime), R&B Divas: Atlanta (TV One), R&B Divas: Los Angeles (TV One), Queens of Drama (Pop), Jump! (Lifetime), Strange Love (TLC), Big Giant Swords (Discovery), Gene Simmons: Family Jewels (A&E), Tony Danza: Teach (A&E), among many others. Find out more about Thinkfactory Media and its projects at www.ThinkfactoryMedia.com and follow them on Twitter at @TFactoryMedia.
CMT, a unit of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIAB), is the leading television and digital authority on country music and entertainment, reaching more than 92 million homes in the U.S. CMT, CMT.com and CMT Radio offer an unparalleled mix of music, news, live concerts and series and are the top resource for country music on demand. The network’s digital platforms include the 24-hour music channel, CMT Pure Country, CMT App, CMT Mobile and CMT VOD.
About the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development
The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s mission is to develop strategies which help make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs. To grow and strengthen Team Tennessee, the department seeks to attract new corporate investment in Tennessee and works with Tennessee companies to facilitate expansion and economic growth. Tennessee is the only three-time winner of “State of the Year” for economic development by Business Facilities magazine. Find us on the web: tnecd.com. Follow us on Twitter: @tnecd. Like us on Facebook: facebook.com/tnecd.