Tennessee Approves $4.3M Grant to Bring CMT’s Million Dollar Quartet to Memphis

The new CMT series “Million Dollar Quartet” is coming to Memphis, to bring alive a seminal moment in the birth of rock ‘n’ roll and the lives of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.

Million Dollar Quartet

Million Dollar Quartet (photo – ell brown/flickr)

Supported by a $4.3 million Tennessee economic development grant, Million Dollar Quartet will kick off production in Memphis this spring.

The series, an adaptation of the Broadway Musical about Sun Records, will tell the true story of record producer Sam Phillips and his ground breaking studio, Sun Records. Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins collaborated in a 1956 recording session at Sun Records later called the Million Dollar Quartet. Those sessions are widely regarded as a seminal moment in the birth of rock ‘n’ roll.

Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd announced today that the department has approved a reimbursable grant of up to $4.3 million that will support a projected 160 film crew positions.

Commissioner Boyd said in a release that “Memphis is the birth place of rock ‘n’ roll music, and we are ecstatic to be able to support a television series that tells the story of the city’s role in one of the most influential cultural phenomenon of the last century. This is truly a Tennessee story.”

CMT President Brian Philips likewise noted that telling this story in Memphis was important to making such an important historical period come alive for the screen. “The characters are all larger-than-life, so casting is a daunting challenge, but we’re counting on the magic of Memphis to come alive again!” added Philips.

State Sen. Mark Norris, who helped to recruit the project to the state, said the production is an important win for the Memphis film community. “This series brings history to life and breathes new life into the Memphis film and television market. I appreciate the hard work of TNECD, the Tennessee Entertainment Commission, the Memphis Film Commission, Thinkfactory Media and CMT in making it possible,” added Sen. Norris.

Tennessee Entertainment Commission Executive Director Bob Raines highlighted the state and Memphis economic development benefits of the project. “In addition to producing new jobs for our local crew base and providing revenue for the state’s production vendors, the series will introduce iconic Memphis legends and music to a new generation of fans,” said Raines.

Later this month, show producer Thinkfactory Media will hold a casting call seeking actors for the series at Presley’s alma mater, the historic Humes Preparatory Academy in Memphis.

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