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Charles Esten on T Bone Burnett 'Nashville' exit

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Nashville Charles Esten
Mark levine/ABC

Last week, iconic music producer T-Bone Burnett had choice words for the execs over at ABC when he explained his abrupt exit as Nashville‘s music supervisor after just one season to The Hollywood Reporter.

“I have no problem working with Callie,” Burnett said of his wife, Nashville creator and executive producer Callie Khouri. “I have a problem when people don’t treat Callie right. I like to see artists treated with tremendous respect, and I like the executives to say, ‘How can I help you do what you do?’ That’s what I do.”

He continued, “Some people were making a drama about real musicians’ lives, and some were making a soap opera, so there was that confusion. It was a knockdown, bloody, drag-out fight, every episode. You remember that show The Prisoner? If I were to tell you the truth, you’d think I was insane.” Yikes. Tell us how you really feel, T-Bone.

Well, EW caught up with Nashville star Charles “Chip” Esten (a.k.a. Deacon Clayborn) on the red carpet of the BMI Music Awards last week in Nashville, and though the actor didn’t deny the behind-the-scenes tension, he said he was proud to be part of a show for which people like Burnett care enough to argue.

“T-Bone is a fighter for what he believes in, and what he believes in is great, great music,” said Esten. “So, that’s naturally going to occur in some situations where he wants it to be the best that it can be, and other people have their opinion about the best it can be.

“For me, I don’t mind anybody fighting over excellence, and I don’t mind him fighting for it,” Esten further explained. “And I don’t mind the fact that he left Buddy Miller in charge, who also has that same passion. What I would mind is if it became a really congenial path toward mediocrity. I would rather knock this out, bang this out, and get this the best it can be. That’s what it was, and God bless him, that’s what he did.”

So there you have it. Nashville isn’t all roses behind-the-scenes, and for now, that’s all right with Esten as the show tries to become great. Still, if Nashville hopes to return for a third season, it will need to smooth out its onscreen tone and climb in the ratings quickly — and it sounds like that might be difficult given its offscreen struggles.

As a bonus, here’s a clip of Esten singing “This Town,” which he called his favorite song from this season, with co-star Clare Bowen: