It’s been a rough year for fans of CBS’ Mike & Molly. Scheduling switcheroos were bad enough, but the show’s ultimate cancellation had to be downright painful considering the consistently hilarious comedy stylings brought by stars Billy Gardell and Melissa McCarthy. Luckily, Gardell isn’t going to be off the small screen for long, and he’s landed a major role in CMT’s upcoming scripted series Million Dollar Quartet.
Unlike Mike & Molly, Million Dollar Quartet won’t be a comedy. Billy Gardell will be stretching his dramatic muscles, according to Deadline. The project is inspired by the Broadway musical of the same name and will air eight episodes. The musical itself was based on the true story of four young and iconic musicians coming together and combining dissonant styles of hillbilly country with R&B. Given that the foursome of musicians was comprised of Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis, we can probably count on some fantastic tunes in the project. It will be set in Memphis and take place in the era of the beginning of the civil rights movement. The timing of the project has been set to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the real-life quartet.
Billy Gardell won’t be playing one of the four musicians. Instead, he’ll tackle the role of Tom Parker, the notorious manager of Elvis Presley known as “the Colonel.” Born in the Netherlands, Parker made his mark in the United States when he used Presley’s trust in him to take more than a manager's traditional share of the singer’s earnings. In fact, Parker was so ruthless over the years that he was taking up to half of The King's money by the time of Presley’s death. All in all, it’s safe to say that the Colonel will be a far cry from Mike.
Gardell joins a large cast, led by Chad Michael Murray in the role of Sun Records founder Sam Philips. Three of the four actors playing the famous musicians have already been confirmed as well, with Drake Milligan as Elvis, Kevin Fonteyne as Johnny Cash, and Christian Lees as Jerry Lee Lewis. It should be interesting to see how Billy Gardell and Drake Milligan play off one another as manager and singer.
I'm also intrigued to see how Gardell handles a dramatic role. He’s proven himself quite versatile with all types of comedy, ranging from his beloved part as Mike on Mike & Molly to host of Monopoly Millionaires Club to his career as a standup comic. Hopefully, he’ll be able to translate that comedic versatility into an unforgettable dramatic performance. Who knows? Maybe the eight episodes of Million Dollar Quartet will see Billy Gardell beginning a long career of drama.
Given that the project is still casting and Million Dollar Quartet is technically only a working title, we’re still a ways off from seeing Gardell in the role of Tom Parker. In the meantime, we can tune in to the final run of Mike & Molly episodes on CBS. The series comes back for the rest of its sixth and final season on April 25. To see what else is premiering in the coming months, check out our summer TV schedule/a>.