Producers and Stars Discuss Fox’s New Country Drama, ‘Monarch, ’ Where Music Reigns in a Chaotic World – Billboard

“I’ve been surrounded by divas my entire life and I’m probably the biggest one of them all, ” says top Nashville manager Jason Owen with a robust laugh, explaining why he was beyond qualified to serve as one associated with the executive producers on Monarch , the deliciously soapy new Fox series premiering Sunday (Sept. 11) that chronicles the musical exploits plus over-the-top misadventures of country music’s fictional first family.


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Starring Susan Sarandon and Trace Adkins as Dottie plus Albie Roman – the matriarch and patriarch of the multi-generational Roman family – the frothy melodrama often strains credulity. But there were some areas where Owen insisted that credibility reign.

“There has to be a real thru-line with some of the particular business decisions and how the characters tour. The manner in which they work has to be authentic, ” says Owen, whose management clients include Kacey Musgraves , Little Big Town and Dan + Shay. “There can be all the particular crazy s–t that may never exist in real life which makes for a great soap, but there has to be some realness — and that, coupled with the music was really, really important in order to me. ”

Monarch features some original songs but 90% of the musical selections performed by the cast are covers, focusing upon classic nation songs from the ‘90s and 2000s. The show also sprinkles in country takes on contemporary hits like Lizzo ’s “Juice, ” Harry Styles ’ “Watermelon Sugar” and Lady Gaga ’s “Born This Way. ” Think Glee , but for nation fans.

The show–created simply by Melissa London Hilfers, who also serves as executive producer along with Owens plus noted TV/movie producer Gail Berman, among others– shares another musical connection with “Glee” in Adam Anders because executive music producer. Anders started his career inside Nashville, spending eight years in Music City as a musician, songwriter and producer. “This was actually an opportunity to came back home in the way for me, ” he says. “People know me more from Rock of Ages and Joy , but my roots are in Nashville musically, ” he admits that.

In fact, he had a full circle moment when he was in a Nashville recording studio tracking songs for Monarch and hanging on the particular bathroom wall was a photo of him, circa 2001, playing bass with Shania Twain , who makes a cameo in the second episode.

Because Monarch focuses on three generations of Romans, Anders has a wide array associated with songs to choose from. “You have your matriarch and patriarch, and that’s kind of where I go a lot more traditional for the most part, ” he says. “Then you have [middle generation] with Anna [Friel] and Beth [Ditto’s] characters, who are more in the Faith Hill world in the head. Then you have the grandkids and you think Serta + Shay and the particular new generation of country music, modern country. ”

Plus, the show features the current pop songs within a country setting to bring in the wider audience. “I want people to watch the show who maybe also don’t know nation music, [so] let’s give them an entry point, ” Anders says. “The goal is if you don’t know country music, hopefully by the end of this show, you’re in love with country music. ”

Among the lessons Anders learned from Glee that he brings to Monarch is any song choice “needs to land emotionally, ” he admits that. “If it connects with the story, it’s going in order to work for the particular most part. And, obviously, it’s helpful for a new show plus a musical to have songs people recognize. That’s always a good easier entry point. Then a person kind of earn the right to do originals. ”

Though they were initially working remotely because of the pandemic (the show has been even delayed from its original January launch because of difficulties caused by COVID-19), Anders worked closely along with the scriptwriters to pick the best tunes for each show. “For the particular most component, we had been able to get the tracks we went after, ” he says. And for those he couldn’t, he’s not naming names and he holds no grudges. “I actually don’t hold it against anyone that doesn’t want to license their song to a show, ” he says. “It’s your baby, you do what you would like with it. But if you need to do let us use it, we’re going to take care. We’re going in order to try to do something great with this. ”

The particular show takes place in Austin, Texas, yet tapes inside Atlanta. While the actors recorded their vocals in Atlanta, Anders documented all the music tracks in Nashville — unlike with Joy , where he tracked in Los Angeles. He gives working in Nashville a big thumbs up. “I love, love recording in Nashville, ” he says. “I really like getting musicians together in a studio, the particular creative process, you’re bouncing ideas off each other. The more great, brilliant, creative musical minds, the better. In L. A., if you’re doing pop songs, there’s more programming involved, it’s less live instruments. It’s the different procedure entirely. ”

The need for authenticity extended to the casting. “I felt like we had to make one person in this particular family someone that was really a true country singer, ” Owen says. One of Owen’s staffers suggested Adkins, since the country hitmaker has plenty of acting experience, including The Lincoln Lawyer and the mini-series, To Appomattox . “I thought 100% yes, ” Owen says upon hearing the particular name. (Ditto was also formerly the frontwoman associated with rock band The particular Gossip).

The country star auditioned over Zoom while sitting on his tour bus. “And 10 days later, I was all set, ” Adkins says.

While the figures may find themselves within absurd situations, and the script takes liberties by pretending the Romans recorded some classic nation tunes first, Adkins has served since a true north at times when it comes to making sure the musical technology history will be accurate. “I remember one day I was reading the particular script and [a character says], ‘Well, Johnny Cash wrote three No. 1s whilst he’s in prison. ’ I proceeded to go to the director, and I said, ‘We can’t say that. That’s not true. ’ They were like, ‘Well, you know…’ and We said, ‘No, c’mon man. We can do all this some other stuff plus make country music look like we’re almost all crazy, but you can’t just take historical facts like that and make stuff up. ’” The particular script got changed.

The show is ticking away lots of boxes for Adkins, including Albie singing classics by a few of their heroes. “I’m having so much fun recording music that I actually never would have touched. Songs such as ‘A Nation Boy Can Survive’ by Hank Williams Jr . Or ‘I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink’ simply by Merle Haggard. Stuff like that, ” he admits that. “These are standards. They’re sacred ground. I never might have tread there myself — but as Albie Roman, hell, they’re pretending like these are his songs plus he published them. ”

Adkins calls acting “a horse of a completely different color” through singing, yet what this individual enjoys the particular most about music–which will be working with creative people to make something new– he has also found along with the collaborative process of making a television show. “You’re just encircled by these incredibly talented people – everybody from the key grip as well as the best boy to the camera guy and the additional actors that will you work – and you just get a kick out of it, ” he or she says. “It’s just the stimulating environment. I like that feeling. It’s a great drug. ”

Adkins also gets to pretend to be married in order to Sarandon, that plays their wife. Going toe to toe with the Oscar winner initially “terrified” your pet, he states, but she quickly put him at ease. “She was very, very gracious and just went out associated with her way to make me feel comfortable, ” he says.

Real country royalty drops by the series to give the show a taste of authenticity: Twain, Martina McBride , Small Big City and Tanya Tucker just about all make cameos during the particular first season. “I wanted it in order to feel like the Romans existed in our globe currently, ” says Owen, who helped lure the particular guest stars. “So We thought it was important in the script and Melissa [London Hilfers] agreed that we bring inside these real characters as themselves, plus sometimes more than exaggerate themselves, as in the case associated with Shania. ” He hints that should Monarch become renewed, Twain could make the return appearance.

Like Glee , the new songs featured weekly upon Monarch will be available on digital service providers. Today, Arista/Monument   (Owen is usually co-president of Monument) released an EP highlighting several songs featured in the particular first event. New songs from the series will be release the Friday before each new episode premieres.   Owen says some tunes may go to radio depending on reaction. “Once these shows start airing, I think we’ll see several of the songs rising towards the top naturally, ” he says. “And then we will take advantage of this. ”

Following its Sept. 11 premiere, Monarch moves to its regular Tuesday time slot on September. 20.