Callie Khouri

Season Two of Nashville starts tonight at 10pm on ABC, and if you care about shows with strong women creators and shows created and run by women, you need to support this show.  The women are everywhere.  We were able to have a short phone chat with Callie yesterday, on the eve of season two.  

Women and Hollywood: I'm so excited for the show to come back.  I really feel it resonates with women especially me and my friends.  Are you feeling the love?

Callie Khouri: I was talking about it last night night with the guy who plays Deacon.  He said: "I think we are the smart people's soap."  We don't want to be a soap, so we try to keep it as real as we possible can.

WaH: What is different for you this year as the creator? 

CK: This year we are ahead.  Last year we stumbled out of the gate just figuring out what the show was with ABC.  There were some difference in opinions on scripts and so we got behind and we were just really playing catch up all year long.  Once you are behind a certain amount you can't get caught up so it was always a bit of a fire drill.

WaH: What did you learn from year one?

CK: Several things.  One, were were really surprised at how well we could have Hayden (Panettiere) straddle the line between being absolutely intolerably bad and so heartbreaking that you kind of forgave her for everything.  I was really surprised at how well that worked.  You are always a little worried.  You don't want your characters to be all bad or all good.  Two, it's such a new world for me, television, that it's just interesting trying to you have to think long term and short term at the same time.  It's really fun to take characters on these long journeys.

WaH: What will be different this year for you and the show?

CK: I think we are still finding our pace.  We have some episodes where so much stuff happens and we have other episodes that are quieter and there is more emotional stuff.  But I think we are finding our comfort level.

WaH: Talk a little about the work divide between you and Dee Johnson the showrunner.

CK: She does the writers room in LA, I am more in Nashville. When I am in LA I am in the writers room and in post. But I am in Nashville more than she is.  The writers are in LA, we shoot in Nashville.  

WaH: One of the comments from last year is that you created a show with women writers and directors and it seemed really organic.

CK: Yes.

WaH: Did you get any pressure from the network saying that you had too many women?

CK: No.  I don't think anybody is ever going to say that to me.  Of all the things I am likely to hear, that is low on the list.

WaH: Will we still see lots of women behind the scenes this season?

CK: Yes.  We have the same ratio of men this year, the guys that we lost we replaced with guys, the same goes for women.  We have three male writers and seven women including Dee (I might be leaving someone out.)

WaH: It's not that hard to have women work on TV shows, is it? 

CK: No.  It's perfectly natural.  Everyone is very experienced.  We had a lot of women directors and it's never been an issue.  Gender has never been an issue.  We've never had a problem because we've had a "woman" anything.

WaH: I saw that you directed the finale last season.  Was that the first episode you directed?

CK: Yes.  It was the first one I had time to direct.  I directed episode 2 this year and I am getting ready to direct another one.

WaH: What is it like to direct something that you have created?

CK: It's really fun.  First of all, it's kind of like a vacation for me and the actors.  We get to really hang out, really spend time.  It's like there is one thing removed.  Usually I am here, I am involved, and I am talking with the director.  When I am directing we have a fantastic shorthand.  I love it.  It is really fun.  I am having so much fun doing this show. 

WaH: Were you surprised that the music took off in such a big way?

CK: No.  That was part of the reason I felt good about making the show here.  There is so much great music here in Nashville.  There is just so much that I felt like if we can find a way to get that music out to the world the show will survive.  Country radio is country radio.  They do what they do.  We are doing something else.  We are not trying to make our songs big hits on country music. 

WaH: What are you doing now that T-Bone Burnett (her husband) is not longer working regularly on the show?

CK: We replaced him with Buddy Miller who worked on the show last year.  He is old friend of T-Bone's and is an old friend of mine.  Seamless.  There is nobody like T-Bone, there is certainly nobody better.  I tell you that if I wouldn't have been able to get T-Bone -- and I knew I was only going to get him for a season because he is too busy and this takes up way too much time.  If I wouldn't have been able to get T-Bone, Buddy would have been the next person I would have gone to.  I am really thrilled.

WaH: What should we be excited for onscreen this season?

CK: We have some new characters and performers.  Rayna's divorced now and her love life is as complicated as a person's could be, and yet her relationship with Deacon because of Maddy knowing now that he is her father, she is not able to just say ok, well we tried that and that didn't work.  That's going to tie them in a way that neither one of them expected.