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Ambitious new CMT drama features Elvis, Johnny Cash, and the birth of Rock & Roll

Johnny Cash
CMT has announced plans to produce a new limited-run drama series about the early careers of Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, B.B. King, and Carl Perkins, among others.

Set in Memphis during the start of the Civil Rights era, the series will showcase the birth of the modern Rock & Roll genre, focusing on what each musical pioneer brought to the music, as well as their interactions with each other.

The eight-episode show will be named after and loosely based on a Tony Award-winning musical called Million Dollar Quartet, which itself gots its name from a famous jam session between Presley, Cash, Lewis, and Perkins in 1956.

A nationwide casting call for the roles of each of the young stars begins today, and auditions will be held at Presley’s alma-mater, the Humes Preparatory Academy, on February 13.

CMT will partner with Thinkfactory Media on the project, with CEO Leslie Grief (Hatfields and McCoys) set to helm production of the new show.

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 CMT president Brian Philips in a statement, “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.”

Showcasing a pivotal moment or member in the history of American music has always proven to be a big seller on the big screen, with films like Ray, Walk The Line, and others receiving much critical acclaim and commercial success. Whether or not that will adapt to the smaller screen remains to be seen, but music fans will likely want to tune into a show with such a star-studded cast of historical figures to find out.

Shooting for Million Dollar Quartet will begin in Memphis this Spring, following the casting process.

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