Nashville ended on a cliffhanger that left one of its most important characters hanging in the balance, and now one of the executives behind the show is speaking out about an alternate ending that would have wrapped the show on a happier note.

The Season 4 finale on May 25 wound up being the series finale after ABC unexpectedly canceled the show on May 12. The episode gave most of the characters a happy ending, but during the show's final minute, took away a happy reunion for Juliette Barnes and Avery Barkley when her plane went missing as she was on her way home for a reunion with her estranged husband and their baby girl. Lionsgate TV head Kevin Beggs tells the Hollywood Reporter that although they had filmed an alternate happy ending, he felt it wouldn't serve the fans' best long-term interests.

"There's a little short-term pain but ultimately long-term gain because we intend and are quite focused and are in substantive and serious conversations with multiple buyers about continuing the show on another platform," Beggs says. "If we didn't feel that was going to happen, we might have gone a different way."

Beggs adds that the ending that aired was the one they intended to run all along.

"These things are crafted over weeks and months," he observes. "In our estimation, to go with a quickly assembled too-easy wrap-up is more of a disservice to the fans who have invested four years in this great cast and these great stories. And there's more stories to tell .... we're not looking to write ourselves into a corner and actually wrapping up stories in a somewhat saccharine way is the worst box you can put yourself in."

Beggs declined comment on which networks are actively looking at the show for a fifth season, but Lionsgate has confirmed that four or five platforms are considering the show, and the cast members are still under long-term contract. Beggs calls series stars Hayden Panettiere and Connie Britton "essential" to continuing Nashville. Lionsgate has also brought in Emmy winners Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick as showrunners for a fifth season, in another sign of their faith in the show's long-term viability.

"Our job as a studio with the creative team is to give Ed and Marshall maximum flexibility — not limitation," Beggs says. "This is the ending that was intended. I think it's more of a disservice to try to hastily put something together that's not satisfying. There will be detractors, but on the whole, the notion that this show will continue has been so positively received that I have to play the long game. And the long game is about keeping this show going. We wouldn't take such a strong position to advocate for the ending that we wanted to stick with — the original ending that was crafted by our team — if we didn't feel good about our chances moving forward."

Nashville Stars Who Could Become Country Stars

See More Country Stars Who've Acted

More From Taste of Country