Fox drama Monarch, about the family that rules country music in America, debuts September 11. Country star Trace Adkins plays Albie, the patriarch of the Roman family, who is known as the “Texas Truthteller.” Susan Sarandon portrays his wife, Dottie, the queen of the country scene, who has some issues with her husband’s Truthteller moniker. Fox calls the show “a Texas-sized, multigenerational musical drama about America’s first family of country music.”
Monarch was to launch after the NFC Championship game in late January, but was pushed back amid COVID-19-related delays.
Adkins’s debut album was Dreamin’ Out Loud in 1996. His hits include “(This Ain’t) No Thinkin’ Thing,” “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” and “Ladies Love Country Boys.” He spoke with B+C Multichannel News senior content producer, programming Michael Malone about Monarch, country music and working alongside Sarandon. Asked if he offered any singing tips to his co-star, Adkins was unequivocal. “No, no, no,” he responded. “No.”
An edited transcript of the conversation follows.
How did you end up getting involved with Monarch? I don’t know, somebody called me and asked me if I want to be on a TV show. I did an audition thing with them on Zoom and two weeks later I was on the set. It happened very quickly — there wasn’t a lot of time to think about it too much.
Tell me about your Albie character. Albie is the patriarch of this very successful country music family that’s somewhat of a dynasty — at least they think that’s what it is. He’s herding cats — that’s his job. He tries to keep a lid on some of the drama. He keeps the family together while at the same time he tries to enjoy life and play a little music here and there.
How did you and Susan Sarandon build your chemistry and get to know each other? We didn’t have a chance to, really. We were thrown into the fire together. I was very nervous going in, of course, working with a legend like Susan Sarandon. I was terrified! But I quickly realized that it’s the easiest acting gig I ever had [because] she’s such a pro. All I gotta do is swim in her wake and just try to hang on. She does the heavy lifting. All I do is hang on.
If you heard someone say, ‘I’m not going to watch Monarch because I don’t like country music,’ what would you say to them? There’s a lot of different kinds of music going on. It’s not just country. Albie’s grandchildren are not really into country music that much. They’re singers and he tries to participate, tries to be part of their lives. So he gets in there with them and gives it a try. That gave me the opportunity to do some things I don’t normally do. So it’s not all country music.
Will your music be featured at all in the show? No. But as Albie, I went into the studio and recorded classic country songs — standards that I otherwise never would have touched: “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys” [Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson]; “A Country Boy Can Survive” [Hank Williams Jr.]; “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink” [Merle Haggard].
I just wouldn’t have [recorded them]. But as Albie I can. ■
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.