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Tennessee approves $4 million grant for CMT's "Million Dollar Quartet" television series
February 05, 2016  The Daily Times /  Elvis Express Radio
Elvis Express Radio News
It’s been 60 years since Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins made a recording in the Sun Records studio in Memphis that brought the singers to be
known as the “Million Dollar Quartet.”

Coinciding with that anniversary, CMT will air an eight episode scripted television series later this year to adapt the Tony Award-winning musical “Million Dollar Quartet.”

The series will be filmed in Memphis starting in the spring. The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development has approved a $4.3 million grant for the project.

“Memphis is the birth place of rock ‘n’ roll music, and we are ecstatic to be able to support a television series that tells the story of the city’s role in one of the most influential cultural
phenomenon of the last century,” said ECD Commissioner Randy Boyd in a statement announcing the grant. “This is truly a Tennessee story.”

The series, with the working title “Million Dollar Quartet,” will focus on the lives of Presley, Cash, Lewis and Perkins, as well as record producer Sam Phillips, who made the 1956
recording at Sun Records studio.

“The series chronicles these young artists’ often jarring and sudden meteoric rise to fame in the face of sweeping political change and social unrest,” according to a casting call
from CMT.

CMT is partnering with Thinkfactory Media to create the series. The production company is holding a nationwide casting call for actors to portray the iconic singers, as well as BB
King, Ike Turner and Trixie Dean, Presley’s girlfriend. The casting call will be on Saturday, Feb. 13 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Presley’s alma mater, Humes Preparatory Academy in

Recruiting the project
Even though the story is set in Memphis, it wasn’t a sure thing that the series would be filmed in Tennessee.

Tennessee officials had to recruit the project to be filmed here, said Clint Brewer, ECD assistant commissioner for communications and marketing.

“It was a competitive project,” Brewer said. “They were looking at another location.”

The film company is receiving a grant of up to $4.3 million through the Tennessee Entertainment Production Incentives program, Brewer said. The grant will reimburse 25 percent
of the film company’s qualified expenditures, the maximum amount allowed under the program.

The economic impact of the project will include spending at local businesses near the site and a projected 160 film crew positions, Brewer said.

Marketing Tennessee
Officials are excited about the marketing value of a production like “Million Dollar Quartet.” Brewer compared the potential to that of ABC’s drama “Nashville.”

“Every episode gets viewed by about 8 million people globally in about 50 countries, there’s a big audience for it,” he said.

“We hope this will be the same way. There’s a big upside in the marketing when a show like this goes on.”

And in another report....

Million Dollar Quartet , a new drama series chronicling the rise of rock ‘n’ roll, is underway.

Set in the early days of the Memphis’ Civil Rights era in the 1950s, 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, reports variety.com.

CMT will partner with Hatfields & McCoys producer Thinkfactory Media to produce the series.

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 jam
session that was recorded by Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins in December 1956.

CMT and Thinkfactory Media began a 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 with auditions to be held at the historic Humes Preparatory Academy Middle School, Presley’s alma mater, on February 13.