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CMT Orders Scripted Series Based on Early Careers of Elvis, Johnny Cash

CMT will partner with “Hatfields & McCoys” producer Thinkfactory Media to produce a limited drama series that chronicles the rise of rock ‘n’ roll.

The premiere of the eight-episode scripted series, which will be based on the Tony Award-winning musical “Million Dollar Quartet,” will mark the 60th anniversary of the famed “Million Dollar Quartet” jam session that was recorded by Elvis PresleyJohnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins in Dec. 1956.

Set in the early days of Memphis’ Civil Rights era, the series will document the birth of rock ‘n’ roll and the rise of the genre’s pioneering musicians during periods of extensive political change and social unrest.

CMT and Thinkfactory Media will begin a nationwide casting search for the roles of young Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, BB King, Ike Turner, Carl Perkins and other supporting characters beginning Feb. 3, with auditions to be held at the historic Humes Preparatory Academy Middle School, Presley’s alma mater, on February 13.

“‘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 ‘n’ Roll,” said Brian Philips, CMT president. “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! This is among our most ambitious projects ever, and we entrust it to a proven epic filmmaker, Leslie Greif.”

“We are thrilled to be working with CMT as they enter the scripted drama arena,” said Thinkfactory Media CEO and founder Leslie Greif, who will serve as an exec producer on the series. “At Thinkfactory Media, we pride ourselves in finding, developing and delivering products that fit the networks we work with, and ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ is perfectly suited for CMT because of its deep ties to country music and Nashville,” she said.

In addition to Greif, Jayson Dinsmore, Julia Silverton and “NCIS: Los Angeles'” Gil Grant will exec produce. Colin Escott is attached to produce.

The “Million Dollar Quartet” project is CMT’s second scripted series announced for 2016 — the network’s Billy Ray Cyrus-led ensemble comedy “Still the King” will premiere this summer.

Production for CMT’s “Million Dollar Project” adaptation is set to begin in Memphis this spring.

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