When ABC decided not to renew "Nashville" after the end of its fourth season, the fan outcry was so great that CMT couldn't help but take notice. And now, thanks to those very vocal fans (or Nashies, as they're called), the series has a new home on a new channel — and Charles Esten couldn't be happier.
"My response to the fans and to what they did to bring 'Nashville' back — and they did bring 'Nashville' back, CMT will tell you that — it's just deep gratitude with a side of amazement," says Esten in an exclusive interview with Fox News Magazine. "They're a real special group."
Esten, who reprises his role as singer/songwriter Deacon Claybourne, also assures fans that CMT isn't planning to change too much about the show they love.
"The new 'Nashville' [will be] very similar to the old original 'Nashville,'" says Esten, before admitting to one minor change for the better: "We get to spend a little more time with some of the scenes, [it's] a little more lyrical pace. Like maybe a country song."
According to Esten, the new season is also going to start off with Deacon and Rayna (Connie Britton) in a more stable place than viewers are usually accustomed to, though, of course, that's always subject to change. ("If anybody thinks that married life means you're not gonna face challenges or drama, then [you're] probably a single person," laughs Esten.)
But all in all, Esten says he'll forever be grateful to his fans for letting the show have a chance to finish the story it started.
"It's fun when people start following and becoming Nashies," Esten tells us, "but the biggest thing that they ever did was to keep the show they love on the air. And that's by just letting that love be heard, and doing it in an organized way. And CMT and Hulu, they heard 'em loud and clear, and that's why we get to make more."
Watch the rest of Esten's interview for more about Deacon and Rayna's storyline in season five, then tune in for new episodes of "Nashville" every Thursday at 9 p.m. on CMT.