WILMINGTON — This time last year, actors Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain were in town bringing to life country music king and queen George Jones and Tammy Wynette. Now, their transformation is getting a first look as the trailer for the six-episode series “George & Tammy” dropped Thursday with its release date.
It will premiere Dec. 4, 9 p.m., on both Showtime and streaming platform Paramount.
Originally slated to be a film a decade ago, “George & Tammy” evolved into a miniseries, chronicling the tumultuous relationship of the country-music power couple during their short-lived love affair from 1969 to 1975 (they each had multiple marriages; Jones, four, and Wynette, five). The script, written by Abe Sylvia (“Dead to Me,” “Nurse Jackie”), is based on the 2011 memoir, “The Three of Us: Growing Up with Tammy and George,” written by the couple’s daughter, Georgette Jones.
It is led by Australian director John Hillcoat (“The Road,” “Lawless”) and follows the story of the couple falling in love, starting a family, rising higher to fame, filing for divorce twice, and eventually falling apart, with addiction and abuse contributing to the relationship’s demise.
“Jessica and Michael are truly extraordinary as Tammy and George and their searing performances and undeniable chemistry bring to life the legendary relationship,” CEO of Showtime and Paramount Media Networks Chris McCarthy stated in a press release.
In the trailer, Chastain and Shannon show off their vocal prowess through numerous hits by both music icons. Wynette is best-known for her 1968 ballad “Stand By Your Man,” often considered the most recognized hit in country music, while Jones’ 1980 crooner, “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” has been touted as the greatest track in country music.
The two also dueted on “Golden Ring,” “Near You” and “We’re Gonna Hold On.” In the 2-minute trailer, Jones’ upbeat “The Race is On” tracks most scenes, including a police chase and money being flushed down a toilet, before “Stand By Your Man” takes over to showcase the couple’s downward spiral.
“They’re gonna take it from us,” Shannon says in the snippet.
“Take what?” Chastain answers as Wynette.
Music for the show was overseen by Oscar and Grammy award-winning producer and songwriter T Bone Burnett (“Cold Mountain,” “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”).
To Vanity Fair, which last month released the first production stills by local photographer Dana Hawley, Chastain revealed standing onstage and singing in front of a cast of extras was “the scariest thing [she’s] ever done.”
In the trailer, Wilmington’s historic theater Thalian Hall is featured, both from the front stage and backstage, in the wings and dressing rooms. The miniseries also filmed motel scenes at the Carolinian Inn, diner scenes at Ruth’s Kitchen, set up at Legion Sports Complex for an outdoor performance, and created other sets at Wilmington’s newest studio, Dark Horse.
The series shot in Nashville, Tennessee, as well.
The production stars Steve Zahn (“White Lotus”) as George Richey, Wynette’s last love, and Pat Healy (“Station 19”) as husband number two. Walton Goggins (“Righteous Gemstones”) performs as songwriter Earl “Peanutt” Montgomery and David Wilson Barnes (“Perry Mason”) as record producer and songwriter Billy Sherrill.
Also making an appearance is Raleigh-based Americana act Chatham County Line — fiddle player John Teer, singer and guitarist Dave Wilson, bass and pedal steel player Greg Readling, and touring drummer Dan Hall. They portray studio session band The Nashville A-Team, popular in the 1950s and 1960s for backing musicians like Patsy Cline, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan and Jerry Lee Lewis.
“The creators and the entire cast have delivered a series with the subtlety, nuance and complexity that are the hallmarks of the Showtime brand and what our viewers deserve and demand,” McCarthy continued in the release.
“George & Tammy” has shuffled between networks and streamers since it began rolling. The series originally was to be launched exclusively for Spectrum Originals subscribers; in August it was announced Spectrum would shutter. Showtime will debut it in concert with Paramount.
The first episode will air Sunday, Dec. 4, on both platforms. It will screen commercial-free after the popular series, “Yellowstone,” airs on Paramount. “George & Tammy” will continue to air exclusively on Showtime and thereafter can be accessed Fridays on demand for both Showtime and Paramount+ bundle subscribers.
Chastain’s Freckle Films production company produced “George & Tammy,” in addition to MTV Entertainment Studios, 101 Studios, Mad Chance, Brolin Productions, Aunt Sylvia’s Moving Picture Co. and Blank Films Inc.
The story was ushered into existence after a decade of advocacy from Chastain and writer Sylvia — who worked together on “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” for which Chastain won an Oscar earlier in the year while filming was underway in Wilmington.
David Glasser, CEO of 101 Studios, called it a “labor of love.”
“Jessica and Michael bring all of the heart, love, tragedy and drama to this epic love story,” he said in the release.
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