It was announced this morning that the Grand Ole Opry is going to be returning to televison with Great American Country (GAC), back in the picture. Here is their press release:
"Country music's most famous show is returning to television. The Grand Ole Opry will return to GAC: Great American Country for six star-packed 'Opry Live' episodes to begin airing Tuesday Oct. 4. The first show scheduled to air, an 80th birthday salute to country legend George Jones, was filmed last night and will feature performances by Alan Jackson, Jamey Johnson, The Oak Ridge Boys, Lee Ann Womack, and more. Shows airing on Saturdays, Sundays and Tuesdays in subsequent weeks will feature a who's who of new stars, superstars, and legends of country music, including Trace Adkins, Lauren Alaina, Dierks Bentley, Eric Church, Sara Evans, Martina McBride, Ronnie Dunn, Scotty McCreery, Kellie Pickler, LeAnn Rimes, Randy Travis, Josh Turner, Carrie Underwood and more. Airdates will be announced at Opry.com and GACTV.com.
GAC has enjoyed a longstanding relationship with the Opry over the past eight years, partnering with them on 'Opry Live' and specials including 'Country at the White House', 'Music City Keep on Playing' and 'Country Comes Home.' Special moments happen on the Opry stage and GAC is pleased to be able to share those moments with our viewers', said Sara Trahern, SVP/GM, GAC. 'We can't wait to showcase some of this fall's great Opry performances by the biggest names in country music with fans across the country on 'Opry Live' on GAC', said Pete Fisher, Opry vice president and general manager.' The return of 'Opry Live' to television is being sponsored by Humana."
A couple of thoughts:
In the list of artists being presented in upcoming shows, while I saw a lot of names listed, some of whom were actually Opry members, I also saw a number of names missing. Folks such as Jimmy Dickens, Bill Anderson, Marty Stuart, Ricky Skaggs, Jim Ed Brown, Jean Shepard, Jeannie Seely, Jack Greene, along with many of the other Opry veterans. You get the picture. I believe that GAC is telling the Opry and Pete Fisher who they want on and who they don't.
And, don't believe that Pete Fisher had much of a choice here. The Opry does need some type of television exposure and GAC is apparently the only network to come calling. There are not many options and I have heard that Pete does not really care to deal with GAC, but again, he doesn't have much of a choice.
I am glad that they are going to tape the shows and edit them instead of showing them live, which seems to be the way they are headed for most of the shows. GAC can take a two hour Tuesday night show and edit it down to 1 hour and not disrupt the live show at the Opry House. Too many times when GAC was televising the Opry, it seemed like it was actually 2 shows you were attending: a 1 hour radio show (almost like a warm-up show), and then a 1 hour television show, which of course, only had 3 or 4 artists on. And, with the Opry actually running over on its time schedule most Friday and Saturday nights, this will still allow the Opry to do this, instead of being so focused on the clock.
We shall see how this will work out. With attendance again down, except for the really big shows, and many of the bigger name artists not doing the Opry without the television exposure, this may help the Opry out. Like you, I will check out the shows that GAC puts on and see if there is any improvement from their last run.
I will end this by saying that to me, the only network that did the televised Opry right was TNN, which did nothing more than show a half hour of the radio show. Nothing fancy, nothing dictated. They just showed what Hal Durham and Bob Whittaker scheduled.