Tell us what’s wrong, Nashville ac­tor Ama­trudo tells fans

The Hamilton Spectator - - A&E - EMILY YAHR

Like most of CMT’s “Nashville” cast, Ed Ama­trudo — who plays Glenn, the very pa­tient man­ager of coun­try diva Juliette Barnes (Hay­den Panet­tiere) — is used to see­ing all sorts of feed­back on so­cial me­dia. He reg­u­larly in­ter­acts with view­ers and live-tweets episodes.

But re­cently, Ama­trudo heard that some fans, diehard view­ers who call them­selves “Nashies,” were not happy. In chat rooms and other fo­rums, he was told, there was a lot of dis­agree­ment over how peo­ple felt about the show and the cur­rent story lines.

So Ama­trudo did some­thing un­usual. In­stead of pre­tend­ing the crit­i­cism wasn’t hap­pen­ing — the go-to move for many ac­tors — he took to Twit­ter to ask the fans what they truly thought of the show, and what they would change, even though he knew it wouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily be pos­i­tive. The se­ries, which wraps up its fifth sea­son on Thurs­day, has gone through lots of changes in the last year: A move from ABC to CMT; new showrun­ners and writ­ers; and the de­par­ture of Con­nie Brit­ton, who played coun­try su­per­star Rayna Jaymes.

“Sad to hear all the dis­sen­sion in the ranks of my #NASHIES. Our strength was in our unity. Our col­lec­tive com­mit­ment to @NashvilleCMT. Gone?” he tweeted. “For rea­sons, S5 has been an ad­just­ment for #NASHIES. Changes al­ways chal­lenge. @CMT stepped up. Unfortunately, some NASHIES stepped out.”

The re­sponses poured in: Not enough screen­time for Juliette and her hus­band, Avery (Jonathan Jack­son). The fact that writ­ers killed Rayna off — in­stead of a less grue­some op­tion when Brit­ton wanted off the show. Too few orig­i­nal songs. Too much drama sur­round­ing Rayna’s teen daugh­ters. One Twit­ter user pro­nounced the show “ru­ined” by new showrun­ners.

Ama­trudo re­sponded to the cri­tiques and tried to clar­ify. “So (the fans) feel some­what be­trayed? Mis­led? I’m just try­ing to get a han­dle on what the #NASHIES are feel­ing right now,” he said.

He urged fans to tweet the net­work with sug­ges­tions, rather than just com­plaints. “Keep telling them what you want! @CMT is lis­ten­ing care­fully.”

In an in­ter­view, Ama­trudo said he went di­rectly to the fans be­cause he’s amazed at the Twit­ter com­mu­nity that has formed around the show, and he was dis­ap­pointed to learn it was be­com­ing less fun for some peo­ple. Granted, not ev­ery­one had com­plaints — though as Ama­trudo put it, “You don’t have to have a lot of peo­ple voic­ing opin­ions to im­pact the rest of the view­er­ship.”

“Like any other fam­ily, they don’t agree on every­thing ... the main thing they want is for (‘Nashville’) to be great,” he said. “I wanted that spirit of pos­i­tiv­ity and unity and ex­cite­ment to re­turn, be­cause it was so con­ta­gious.”

So­cial me­dia has proved to be im­por­tant for “Nashville,” as CMT’s mo­ti­va­tion to pick up the drama was bol­stered af­ter the enor­mous out­cry when ABC can­celled it last year. So it makes sense to use the same plat­form to keep view­ers happy.

Ama­trudo ad­mits that he’s not sure if the fans’ wishes on Twit­ter will lead to changes, since it’s all up to the pro­duc­ers. His goal is just to keep view­ers en­gaged, and let them know some­one is lis­ten­ing.

“Peo­ple say, ‘I want more mu­sic.’ ‘I want Juliette to be happy.’ ... The main one is if we could raise Rayna from the dead,” Ama­trudo said, then laughed. “That’s prob­a­bly not go­ing to hap­pen. But noth­ing is im­pos­si­ble!”

JAKE GILES NETTER, CMT

Ed Ama­trudo and Clare Bowen in the "Nashville" sea­son 5 fi­nale.

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