CMT Orders Scripted Billy Ray Cyrus Comedy, Kellie Pickler Series, Chelsea Handler-Produced Late-Night Talk Show

Cable channel also goes inside NASCAR with series narrated by Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Last Updated: April 2, 2015 @ 10:49 AM

CMT presented an ambitious slate of new and returning series and specials during its Upfront presentation to advertisers at New York City’s Times Center on Thursday.

Highlights of that slate include an original scripted comedy starring Billy Ray Cyrus, a new reality series following “American Idol” champ Kellie Pickler, its first late-night talk show, produced by Chelsea Handler, and a series following NASCAR to be narrated by Dale Earnhardt Jr.

In addition, it has renewed “Party Down South,” “Party Down South 2” and “Steve Austin‘s Broken Skull Challenge.”

“CMT is on fire. We are producing more original content than ever before and have a rich pipeline of fresh and innovative ideas,” said CMT’s executive vice president of Development, Jayson Dinsmore, in a statement. “This year, we’re enlisting some of the biggest names in the industry to unleash a groundbreaking new programming slate including epic events and music specials, a bold scripted comedy and brilliant documentaries.”

Cyrus will star as Vernon Brown in “Still the King,” an original scripted comedy following a washed-up one-hit-wonder who goes on to become a Vegas Elvis Presley impersonator. After crashing into an old church, a judge orders Vernon to perform community service. Instead, he passes himself off as the church’s new minister. From Hideout Pictures, Cyrus is set to executive produce and write on the series. It’s set to debut early next year.

Premiering on Sept. 18, “I Love Kellie Pickler” (working title) will follow the country singer and husband Kyle Jacobs, who’s described as “her complete opposite.” Ryan Seacrest will executive produce with Pickler, Jacobs, Eugene Young and Rabih Gholam.

Handler will executive produce “The Josh Wolf Show,” CMT’s first late-night program hosted by “Chelsea Lately” alum Josh Wolf. Airing Wednesday through Saturday starting on June 11, the talk show comes from Free 90 Media’s Brad Wollack and Tom Brunelle.

“American Speed: The True Story of NASCAR” will air in early 2016. CMT promises that the limited documentary series will tell the “gritty” story behind the iconic car racing organization with two-time Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. set to narrate. It will be executive produced by Stephen David of Stephen David Entertainment and Zane Stoddard for NASCAR.

See the full slate below:

New originals series and specials premiering this spring include:

· “Gainesville” (May 14) – From an Emmy Award-winning documentary team comes “Gainesville,” a docu-series following a tight-knit group of friends in small town Florida as they attempt to transition into adulthood. “Gainesville” is produced by Wheels Off Entertainment, a division of Brick City TV, with Yoav Attias, Nicholas Burnett, Daniel Levin and Alan Deutsch as executive producers. Jayson Dinsmore, Lewis Bogach, and John Miller-Monzon executive produce for CMT.

· The Josh Wolf Show” (June 11) – From executive producer Chelsea Handler comes “The Josh Wolf Show” – CMT’s first original late night comedy series starring comedian Josh Wolf (best known for guest hosting “Chelsea Lately”). Airing nightly (Wednesday – Saturday) the topical comedy show features panel discussions, interviews and sketches with stars from the worlds of country, Hollywood and beyond. In addition to Handler, “The Josh Wolf Show” is executive produced by FREE 90 MEDIA’s Brad Wollack and Tom Brunelle.

· “The Ed Bassmaster Show” (June 17) – From the producers of MTV’s “Teen Wolf,” “Kesha: My Crazy Beautiful Life” and “The Andy Milonakis Show,” Ed Bassmaster is breaking out from YouTube to join CMT in his first-ever TV show where he’ll unleash an astonishing range of characters on unsuspecting members of the general public. With over 1.9 million YouTube subscribers and 472 million views, Bassmaster is fast becoming a household name known for his pranks and skits. “The Ed Bassmaster Show” is executive produced by Tony Di Santo and Liz Gateley through DiGa Vision. Additional executive producers include Adam Dolgins and Tom Gianis. Matt Trierweiler executive produces for CMT.

· “I Love Kellie Pickler” (working title) (September 18) – Kellie Pickler catapulted from small-town obscurity and became a household name thanks to American Idol and Dancing With the Stars, but has since gone on to become a country sensation and part of the CMT Family. Recognized and beloved for her quirky personality, uniquely hysterical witticisims and Southern charm, the series will follow her marriage to Kyle Jacobs – her complete opposite. “I Love Kellie” is produced by Ryan Seacrest with executive producers Ryan Seacrest, Eugene Young, Rabih Gholam, Kellie Pickler and Kyle Jacobs. Jayson Dinsmore and Morgan Selzer executive produce for CMT.

Early next year (2016), CMT will debut:

· Still The King” (timing TBD) – Starring Billy Ray Cyrus, the scripted comedy features Cyrus as Vernon Brown AKA “Burning Vernon” a scandal-ridden washed up one-hit wonder who is kicked out of country music, only to emerge 20 years later as the second best Elvis impersonator in Laughlin, Nevada. After crashing into an old country church outside of Nashville during a drunken bender, he is sentenced to return and perform community service. Along the way, he pretends to be the congregation’s new minister and discovers he has a 15-year-old daughter he’s never met. “Still The King” is produced by HIDEOUT PICTURES with Billy Ray Cyrus serving as executive producer and writer. Julia Silverton and Jayson Dinsmore executive produce for CMT.

· “American Speed: The True Story of NASCAR” – The most in-depth high octane account of the gritty true story behind NASCAR comes roaring to life in a first of its kind limited series narrated by two-time Daytona 500 winner and racing royalty Dale Earnhardt Jr. “American Speed: The True Story of NASCAR” is executive produced by Stephen David of Stephen David Entertainment and Zane Stoddard for NASCAR. Jayson Dinsmore, Lewis Bogach and John Miller-Monzon executive produce for CMT.

This spring/summer, CMT will premiere new seasons of returning favorites, including:

· “Party Down South 2” (May 14) – The crew returns for another unbridled and epic spring break in St. Petersburg, Fla. “Party Down South 2” is produced by 495 Productions with SallyAnn Salsano, Joel Zimmer, Kyle Simpson and Paul Storck serving as executive producers. Morgan Selzer and Jayson Dinsmore executive produce for CMT.

· “2015 CMT Music Awards” (June 10) – The biggest and loudest night in country music where stars of the genre and celebrity guests descend upon Nashville for an unforgettable night of performances and awards. The “2015 CMT Music Awards” are executive produced by John Hamlin and Margaret Comeaux for CMT, along with executive producer Michael Dempsey and director Joe DeMaio.

· “Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge” (August 2) – The ultimate badass competition ‘guys night’ show returns with host Steve Austin as he brings eight elite athletes to his Broken Skull Ranch to test their strength, stamina and endurance. Each episode sees contestants go head-to-head until the last man standing earns the right to take on the toughest obstacle course in America, the ‘Skullbuster’ for a chance to win $10,000 in cold, hard cash. “Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge” is produced by 51 Minds Entertainment with executive producers Christian Sarabia, Steve Austin and Vincent Cariati. Julia Silverton and Jayson Dinsmore executive produce for CMT. (out to JS, Vince & Sheryl)

· “Party Down South” (August 20) – Break out your beerzooka and start fishin’ for marlins as CMT’s biggest hit in its history returns for the loudest and wildest summer vacation yet. “Party Down South” is produced by 495 Productions with SallyAnn Salsano, Joel Zimmer, Kyle Simpson and Paul Storck serving as executive producers. Morgan Selzer and Jayson Dinsmore executive produce for CMT.

· “CMT Artists of the Year” (early December) – Nashville celebrates its own when “CMT Artists of the Year” returns for a sixth year to celebrate the top country acts of 2015. In an evening filled with performances and special celebrity guests, CMT applauds the honorees’ impact on the genre including sales, radio and touring accomplishments over the past year. “CMT Artists of the Year” is executive produced by John Hamlin and Margaret Comeaux for CMT.

· “CMT Championship Kickoff Party” (January) –“CMT Championship Kickoff Party” is an officially sanctioned, 90-minute concert special live from the host city of the College Football Playoff National Championship. In a weekend full of parties CMT and a list of superstar friends kick it off with the biggest, loudest party of all. John Hamlin and Margaret Comeaux serve as executive producers for CMT.