The birth of rock ‘n’ roll is just one of the threads running through a new series set in Memphis around the time Elvis Presley was crossing paths with Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. “Sun Records” premieres Feb. 23 on CMT, which just released the first teaser for the project. (You can watch it below.)
Chad Michael Murray stars as Sun Records founder Sam Phillips in a story focusing both on the music and on the tumultuous early days of the civil rights movement. Based on the Tony Award-winning musical “Million Dollar Quartet,” the series will join “Nashville” to complete CMT’s new Thursday lineup.
“In the teaser, fans get their first preview of young Elvis Presley (Drake Milligan) and Johnny Cash (Kevin Fonteyne) with guitars, Jerry Lee Lewis (Christian Lees) jamming out on the piano, and Sun Records founder Sam Phillips (Chad Michael Murray) in the studio asking to hear something musically he hasn’t heard before,” CMT notes in an announcement.
“Guided by Sam Phillips, young musicians like Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis combined the styles of hillbilly country with the 1950s R&B sound created by artists like Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Fats Domino and Ike Turner, and changed the course of music forever,” the announcement adds. “The series chronicles these young artists’ often jarring and sudden meteoric rise to fame in the face of sweeping political change and social unrest.”
The cast includes Billy Gardell (Presley and Eddy Arnold’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker), Jonah Lees (Jimmy Swaggart), Trevor Donovan (Eddy Arnold), Keir O’Donnell (Dewey Phillips), Jennifer Holland(Sam’s wife Becky Phillips), Margaret Anne Florence (Sam’s assistant Marion Keisker), and Kerry Holliday (Ike Turner).
“Sun Records” is produced by Thinkfactory Media with Leslie Greif (“Hatfields & McCoys,” “Texas Rising”) as executive producer, Gil Grant (“24” and “NCIS: Los Angeles”) as executive producer and showrunner, Barry Berg as co-executive producer and Herb Nanas and Colin Escott as producers. Oscar nominee Roland Joffé directs, with Jayson Dinsmore and Julia Silverton as executive producers for CMT.
Here’s the new teaser …