Taylor Swift’s Piano Playing Skills Landed Her Role in “The Giver”

Cliff Lipson/CBS Taylor Swift appears in the upcoming movie The Giver opposite such big names as Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep and Katie Holmes.  But it turns out that one of the reasons she got the role isn’t her acting skills, but her musical skills — specifically, her ability to play the piano.

According to The Washington Post, the producer of The Giver, Nikki Silver, appeared at an event at the Library of Congress to promote the film, along with Lois Lowry, who wrote the book on which the film is based.  Silver explained that the character Taylor plays, Rosemary, was originally written as someone who played the piano.  They auditioned several other actresses for the part, Silver said, but when the producers attended one of Taylor’s concerts last year, they saw her playing the piano and realized that she might fit the bill.

“She’s a very soulful, interesting young woman and we had this very out-of-the box idea that maybe it would make sense that she could be our Rosemary,” Silver said, according to the Post. “And she’s fantastic. I’ve spent a lot of time with her, and she had just been looking to dip her toe slightly in acting.”

“She doesn’t sing in the movie,” added Silver. “But she does play a little piano, which we had written for that character before we hired her.”

The Giver is set in a dystopian future where all the major problems of the world have been solved, but people unknowingly have been stripped of any real emotion. It’ll be in theaters August 15.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Nashville Notes

Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockFlorida Georgia Line will perform their latest hit, “This Is How We Roll” on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Thursday.

David Nail‘s new video, “Kiss You Tonight,” premieres on CMT Friday.

Brantley Gilbert‘s new single, “Small Town Throwdown,” features Justin Moore and Thomas Rhett. The track will be included on Brantley’s new album, Just as I Am, due out next Monday.

Frankie Ballard‘s #1 hit “Helluva Life” has been certified gold for sales and streams topping the 500,000 mark.

Greg Bates performed his song “Hurtin’ on Me” with Nashville star Chris Carmack last Friday night on the Grand Ole Opry. Chris performed the song as Will Lexington on the show, and his version of the song appears on the deluxe edition of The Music of Nashville Season 2 Volume 2, available only at Target.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Rascal Flatts Looking Forward to the Future with Their New Album, “Rewind”

Big Machine Label GroupThe sound of country radio has changed dramatically in the past few years, and Rascal Flatts paid close attention to those new sounds while making their new album, Rewind.

Band member Jay DeMarcus tells ABC News Radio, “I think it really shows that we’re evolving musically and pushing the envelope musically. Because you can’t be complacent. If you don’t change with the trends and the times, you’re gonna get left behind.”

In an effort to get out of their comfort zone, the Flatts relocated to Los Angeles for a while to work with rock producer Howard Benson, who has also worked with Kelly Clarkson and Daughtry among many others.

“The L.A. rock producer cat, it’s a little bit different than what we were used to,” says lead singer Gary LeVox. “He used some different tones on my vocals, which I thought were cool and different.”

To finish up the album, Rascal Flatts decided to produce themselves for the first time on a regular studio project. Before Rewind, they’d had someone else in the studio guiding them during the recording sessions.

Jay says, “This was a chance for us to experiment musically and kinda  find ourselves. It was a little bit scary because when it’s just the three of us and there’s no outside opinion, there’s a lot at risk here. A lot at stake.”

It looks like that risk paid off since the hit title track from Rewind came from those self-produced sessions.

“It was really some of my most favorite musical memories in this band in recent years, was sitting around just the three of us working on tunes together,” Jay says.

The guys are playing a private show for Citi card holders Tuesday night in Los Angeles. Attendees will be treated to a glasses of wine paired with each song from Rewind. So, which wine do the guys think of when they hear “Rewind”?

Gary says, “That’d be Boone’s Farm.” Guitarist Joe Don Rooney chimes in, “Some kind of really good boxed wine.”

Rascal Flatts will promote Rewind with a profile on NBC Nightly News Tuesday as well as a performance on NBC’s The Voice Tuesday night at 8 ET. Look for them on NBC’s Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Friday. They’ll perform on NBC’s Today Summer Concert Series on May 30.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Why Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley Isn’t Ready for Kids

Big Machine Label GroupBrian Kelley from Florida Georgia Line married Brittney Marie Cole in December, and the country star said being on tour with his wife couldn’t be any better.

“It feels perfect, man, I can’t think of one thing that’s missing or lacking in our life,” he told ABC News. “Having that person that makes you better, completes you, you want to see before you go to bed and right when you wake up, there’s something to be said about that.”

In fact, not much has changed since getting married, maybe just a little more space for the newlyweds.

“It’s a little different, we got our own bus and Tyler’s on the other bus, he’s got a couple guys on there,” he added. “Just get a little better rest maybe.”

The 28-year-old singer married Cole, 23, in an outdoor ceremony in Nashville last year and since then, he said his wife loves being on the road with the boys. Something Kelley said fans should also be happy about when it comes to the future of the duo’s music.

“She loves it, she loves being on the road, just a cool time for everybody, very exciting,” he said. “Being married, I don’t think that’s going to change our music, maybe even make it better.”

As for kids, Kelley surprisingly said he’s good for now.

“No, no. We have two sugar gliders, basically in essence little flying squirrels and we just got a puppy … she’s like 9 weeks old,” he added. “So, no real kids, just a couple sugar gliders and a dog, for now.”

With Tyler Hubbard, the other half of the hit duo, also in a serious relationship, Kelley said he’s not worried about friends making jokes that the two are missing out on the rock star lifestyle.

“I’ve never been one to let anything get under my skin,” he said. “We probably got better comebacks then they got anyways.”

Kelley spoke to ABC as part of the duo’s work with Outnumber Hunger, a charity to help feed local families across the country.

“Last year, we got well educated about Outnumber Hunger, being involved with it was very cool to us,” he said. “It’s even more cool this go-around, this year with the success we’ve had.”

Kelley said his father really instilled the desire to give back into him and his sister at a young age.

“When I was 14, we had a Christmas where my dad, he said, ‘I’m going to take you down to the projects, to see a little less fortunate people that don’t really have money for Christmas,’” he said. “That was just an incredible lesson at 14 years old.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio 

“American Idol” to Air Only One Night a Week Next Year

FoxIt’s no secret that American Idol isn’t the ratings juggernaut it once was, which is why next season, FOX is reportedly cutting back the number of hours it devotes to the show.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, FOX Broadcasting chairman Kevin Reilly announced that next season, American Idol will only air for 37 hours total, compared to the 50-plus hours it has aired in the past.  The plan, Reilly said, is to have the show airs two nights per week during the audition phase, and then air just one night per week, two hours per night, for the rest of the season.  That means that performances and eliminations will likely take place during the same night.  This isn’t a new concept: ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, which recently cut back to one night per week as well, does both on the same night.

Despite lower ratings, Reilly didn’t say that American Idol will be ending any time soon.  According to the Hollywood Reporter, he said, “the show will be on the air for many years to come,” and he’s now focused on making it a “potent” and “good show” in its time period, instead of a monster that crushes all competition, which it used to be.  He compared American Idol to CBS’ long-running reality show Survivor, which has aired for more than 20 seasons, and still delivers solid ratings.

As for the show’s judges, sources tell the Hollywood Reporter that the current lineup of Harry Connick Jr., Keith Urban and Jennifer Lopez is likely to return for American Idol season 14.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


The Band Perry Erasing the Evidence of Love Gone Wrong in New “Chainsaw” Video

Republic NashvilleThe Band Perry‘s new video for “Chainsaw” premieres on CMT and CMT.com Tuesday. The clip features the Perry siblings yelling “timber” as they cut down the trees where their heartbroken clients have carved their initials with their exes.

“Chainsaw” was filmed in Oregon and also includes dynamic live footage from The Band Perry. It’s the latest single from their album Pioneer.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Rodney Atkins Recruits Lee Brice and Dustin Lynch for Music City Gives Back Concert

Photo Credit: Caleb KuhlRodney Atkins hosts his Fourth Annual Music City Gives Back Tuesday, June 3 at 1st Avenue and Broadway in downtown Nashville. Lee Brice, Jana Kramer, Dustin Lynch and Josh Thompson are among the stars joining Rodney on the bill. Proceeds go to Nashville’s W.O. Smith Music School.

Rodney says, “I am so excited to be part of this event for the fourth year in a row and to have such a great group of artists give their time and talent to help out. I’ve always believed that music is a great healer and it’s important to me as an artist to use that platform to give back.”

The concert is free to the public.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Dierks Bentley Parties in the Air in New “Drunk on a Plane” Video

Greenroom PRDierks Bentley‘s new video for “Drunk on a Plane” premiered on the comedy website Funny or Die Monday morning. The hilarious clip was shot at Air Hollywood last month, featuring a cast of comedians, actors, Dierks’ band members, and friends throwing down while up in the air.

Dierks says, “There are a few subplots working underneath the main story that totally crack me up. If you watch it a couple times, you start to pick up on more funny details.”

“Drunk on a Plane” has already become a highlight of Dierks’ just-launched Riser tour. Go to Dierks.com to see where he’s playing next.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Luke, Miranda, Carrie, Blake & More Performing on 2014 CMT Music Awards

CMTBlake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, Eric Church, Florida Georgia Line, Luke Bryan, and Miranda Lambert are all set to perform on the 2014 CMT Music Awards next month. The show broadcasts live from Nashville June 4 at 8 p.m. ET. Further announcements on performers, presenters and the show host are coming soon.

Fan voting is now open at CMT.com to determine this year’s winners.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Dolly Parton “Dolly-izes” Bon Jovi and Bob Dylan on New Album, “Blue Smoke”

Webster PRDolly Parton‘s new album, Blue Smoke, is out Tuesday, but she insists the title isn’t quite as mysterious as it might sound. Dolly wrote the title track a few years ago inspired by the blue smoke that comes off the Smokey Mountains in her native East Tennessee.

She says of the song, “That kind of fit ’cause I’m from the Smokies. But also it has a lot of bluegrass flavors to it. So, I thought the bluegrass, the blue smoke.”

The project includes a pair of interesting cover songs. Dolly dipped into Bon Jovi’s catalog to sing their 1989 hit, “Lay Your Hands on Me.” While the original version is about a romantic relationship, Dolly teamed up with writers Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora to reimagine “Lay Your Hands on Me” as a gospel song.

“So, they just threw some ideas out, and I threw some ideas out,” Dolly says of the rewrite process. “They loved what I was doing. I loved what they was doing.”

Dolly also included a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” on Blue Smoke.  She says, “It was just one of those songs that I often sit around and just sing. But I love Bob’s songs. He’s different, unusual — weird guy, and I love weird people.”

Blue Smoke features Dolly’s duet with Willie Nelson on “From Here to the Moon and Back,” as well as her Grammy-nominated collaboration with Kenny Rogers, “You Can’t Make Old Friends.”

Look for Dolly on NBC’s Today and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and CBS’s The Talk on Tuesday. She’ll appear on History Channel’s American Pickers Wednesday, and The Wendy Williams Show on Thursday.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio