‘Nashville’ Loses One Cast Member, Adds Another
Spoiler Alert: This article contains details about the most recent episode of Nashville.
It's a tumultuous time for fans of ABC's hit series, Nashville.
The show -- which is set in the drama and high-stakes excitement of Music City's country music scene -- lost a longtime cast member this week, when Oliver Hudson's character died in an unexpected and dramatic send-off. Jeff Fordham was an oily label executive on the show, but his character was redeemed at the end as he tried to save pop-country superstar Juliette Barnes -- played by Hayden Panettierre -- from committing suicide by jumping off the roof of the Gulch in Nashville. He lunged to save her and instead fell to his own death.
The show will welcome a face familiar to ABC viewers on Dec. 9, when Jessy Schram -- who previously appeared as Ella on Once Upon a Time -- makes her debut on Nashville as Cash Gray, the daughter of a recovering alcoholic singer-songwriter named Frankie, who is Deacon Claybourne's AA sponsor on the show. TVLine described Gray as "a singer songwriter who is just starting to come into her own, having co-written a few songs with Kacey Musgraves."
Her debut on this season's 10th episode will coincide with the character of Juliette vanishing from the show temporarily, a move writers had to undertake to accommodate Panettiere's real-life decision to seek treatment for postpartum depression. A source close to the show says the timing is strictly coincidental, adding, “The role of Cash was planned long before” Panettiere's announcement.
Nashville executive producer and show runner Dee Johnson tells Deadline that the show did not deliberately draw from Panettiere's real-life struggles for her character's battle with PPD.
"Absolutely not," she states. "We incorporated Hayden’s pregnancy into the storyline last season, but we knew Juliette would have issues with motherhood and had always planned for her to struggle with her demons afterwards, including postpartum depression."
She stresses that Panettiere's departure is only temporary. "It’s not the entire season, it’s just for now. And yes, we’ve had to make adjustments but it’s not uncommon for shows to have to make such accommodations when real life intervenes."
100 Greatest Country Albums of All Time