"Malibu Country," the last new network show of the 2012-13 season to launch, brings country music legend Reba McEntire back to TV. She plays a country music singer who moves her children from Nashville to the California seaside community.
She doesn't have to look far to find the motivation to play the role. In 2001, McEntire -- along with her husband Narvel, and their then-11-year-old son Shelby -- moved to Los Angeles when she started to work on her TV series "Reba." What she expected to be a quick trip turned into a long stay since the show ran until 2007.
It was a tough time for her because she was happy the series was a hit but upset because her son was so sad. The family survived and now that time in Los Angeles has become fodder for stories in the new series.
McEntire's "Malibu Country" character will try to revive the singing career she put on hold to be a wife and mother. It won't be easy because the character faces a country music world that's looking for young and sexy performers.
Country music has been going through a youth movement for years, and McEntire has managed to remain a force in the business, despite being old enough to be a grandmother to many of the new stars.
Television has helped keep her music career going.
"Doing the television show helps an awful lot. Staying out there in front of the audience, trying to keep the fans coming with you from music to television. And all my fans are totally excited about this show. They're very glad we're back on television," McEntire says.
The theme of the youth movement in country music is the central thread of "Nashville," one of the other shows that debuted this year on ABC. Connie Britton plays a veteran singer who comes across a lot like McEntire. The pair met in New York when they were there for the announcement of their shows joining the ABC lineup.
"I went over to introduce myself to her because I'm a huge fan of hers from 'Friday Night Lights.' And she said, 'Oh, I need to pick your brain.' I said, 'Well, all right. I'm in Nashville. Come on over.' And then we were on a flight from Nashville to L.A., and we visited a little bit about it," McEntire says.
McEntire might have been part of the inspiration for Britton's role on "Nashville," but there's no way the country singer would have taken on such a dramatic role.
"I like this one better," says McEntire. "I'm in that business for true life. I want to play an imaginary character having fun in Malibu. Now, guest starring on that, that would be a hoot. I'd like to do that."
"Malibu Country": 8:30 p.m. Fridays on KFSN (Channel 30.1)
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, firstname.lastname@example.org or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.
© 2012 The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.)
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