'Nashville' boss Callie Khouri dishes on Rayna's new label, Deacon's solo career, Juliette and Avery, plus more

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While the question on everyone's mind is whether Will or Peggy will survive the midseason premiere of "Nashville" (get scoop on that mystery from executive producer Callie Khouri here), that doesn't mean every other character is off the hook when it comes to drama. In fact, when "Nashville" returns on Wednesday (Jan. 15), everyone has their own issues to deal with in addition to coping with the death of one of their own.

Zap2it got the chance to pick Khouri's brain about the fates of our favorite Southern singers, and she revealed that musically, things are about to get collaborative.

"This season we'll see a lot more crossover musically with all of our characters," Khouri tells Zap2it. "We realized, life imitating art, we were getting all of these actors to sing together at various functions and they sound incredible together. So we decided that we should be taking advantage of this more on the show. We'll be seeing a lot more of our characters performing with each other."

While we can't wait to see the characters sing together more, we're most excited to see Deacon (Charles Esten) strike out on his own now that he's had some success as a solo performer. "Deacon's going to continue to pursue a solo career for himself," Khouri teases, without giving away whether or not he'll succeed.

Deacon's not the only one taking a big risk professionally: Rayna (Connie Britton) just bought herself out of Edgehill Records to create her own music label, and she put all of her assets on the line to make that payment. That means the pressure is on for her to succeed, otherwise she'll lose her house, her money, and everything. "If you want to win big, you have to bet big," Khouri says. "I don't know that she really had any choice. She had to do what was right for her but yes, it was risky. I don't think it's going to be an easy road but she had to pick her poison there. It will have it's good days and it will have its really not good days."

Someone who's having a really bad day? Juliette (Hayden Panettiere), since she was about to confess her love to her friend Avery before seeing that his girlfriend Scarlett was back in his life. Oops.

"I have to say, I thought that Hayden, in that moment where she was getting ready to tell him that she loved him, I knew it was coming, but I still literally welled up for her character," Khouri says. "I'm pretty hard-boiled when it comes to what's going on with this show, and that moment for me was just like, I don't know why it resonated so much but it was just so real and heartbreaking to see somebody make themselves that vulnerable after everything that she's been through. I know she felt like the world's biggest idiot in that moment. I don't know that she's going to be running back to him and be like, 'What I was going to say ... ' Her instincts will not be to pursue that, necessarily, even though you could tell by the look on Avery's face that the timing couldn't have been worse for him either."

Unfortunately, Juliette's professional life isn't all that great these days either. After being called a homewrecker by the media, something else is going to come up that the public won't be too happy about ... even though it might not even be true.

"Juliette gets herself in a lot of trouble but sometimes trouble just comes and finds her," Khouri says. "It's not based on anything that she's done. Knowing how things are out there in the world today, with instant media and how much things can be manipulated, she gets in pretty deep in pretty hot water."

Unlike Juliette, Scarlett and Gunnar's careers are about to take off thanks to one Kelly Clarkson, who is guest-starring as herself to make a once-in-a-lifetime offer to Gunnar and Scarlett. "Kelly Clarkson is the most adorable person on the planet. She is just so nice," Khouri says. "It's a big step in somebody's career when they attract the interest of a big recording star like that. It's likely to change everything for Gunnar and Scarlett. It just depends on how they handle it with each other."

"Nashville" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

Photo/Video credit: ABC
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