Nashville Season 5 showrunners Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick are sharing some new details about the upcoming new season of the the country music-themed television drama. Ahead of its Jan. 5 premiere date, Herskovitz and Zwick are telling viewers to expect more music, new characters ... and all the drama that they know and love.

When ABC announced the cancellation of Nashville after four seasons on the network, the cliffhanger season finale was set to turn into a series finale. But much to the delight of fans, it wasn't long before CMT picked up the show and breathed new life into the lives of Rayna Jaymes, Juliette Barnes, Deacon Claybourne and their cohorts. The drama's new showrunners, along with creator Callie Khouri and even the cast, say they're elated by the switch to CMT, and the new season to come. One big change: While the drama of the show will remain, it will be more realistic and true to the characters.

"We're staying away from the 'that would never happen' stuff," Khouri tells the Tennessean. "It is a lot more grounded in character. We're telling stories about characters that we love. I think it's more emotional, less soap opera, but it's still delivering dramatic stories."

Executive producers Herskovitz and Zwick agree, adding that it was Khouri who helped the show inch away from the dramatic and take a big step towards the music; in fact, according to Herskovitz, the business side of the music industry is actually going to be a "fairly big story line" in Season 5. The show drew inspiration for that from Khouri's own life experiences.

"We did a boot camp in Nashville that Callie set up for us, where we met some important people in the business and got a sense of what those rooms are like and what they talk about," Hersokovitz tells EW. "For those of us who are not experts on the music business, we’re learning real fast."

Herskovitz's business partner Zwick adds that Khouri's husband, legendary music producer T Bone Burnett, was also instrumental in the learning process.

"It was Callie and T Bone and their life in Nashville that really animated that part of it," says Zwick of the decision to highlight the business of country music. "Coincidentally, my life has involved me with the music business a lot just through friends and through putting music in movies, so I know enough to be dangerous, but Callie has lived it and so has T Bone, so that world is very accessible."

Changes are coming in Nashville's fifth season for the drama's characters as well. Along with the addition of a host of new characters, the show's main cast will see their lives turn in dramatic new directions. Herskovitz and Zwick revealed to EW (spoiler alert!) that Hayden Panettiere's Barnes is still alive, even though her plane went missing in the finale of Season 4 -- but they add that everyone's lives will be changed because of her experience.

"She finds her life very different now from what it ever was before," says Hersokovitz. "That cliffhanger affects other people in the story -- when something like that happens, it’s a big event for everybody. There are ripples that go out from this event that affect other people in the show. It’s a pretty great story."

Of course, one of the people who will be affected is Avery Barkley, Juliette's on-and-off again love interest, played by Jonathan Jackson. According to Zwick, the near-loss of Barnes may just help Barkley reassess what's important to him.

"Avery came [to Nashville] with a very strong dream of who he wanted to be," Zwick says. "We said, there’s an opportunity for someone to try to re-dedicate himself to that, or at least be aware of how much he might’ve lost it."

Of course, Nashville won't neglect its favorite couple either: The showrunners also promise lots of new adventures for Connie Britton's Jaymes and Charles Esten's Claybourne. Herskovitz says that their relationship is one that he loves exploring in deeper ways with each episode.

"The idea of what it means to be married has always been interesting to us -- what are the dynamics, their individual triggers, how do they resolve conflict?" Herkovitz says. "It’s endlessly fascinating to talk about two adults trying to be in a relationship to each other, so that’s been really fun for us and for the actors to go deeper in that way. It’s been rejuvenating."

Season 5 of Nashville is all set to premiere with a special two-hour event on Jan. 5, starting at 9PM ET on CMT. Can't wait even a month longer? CMT just announced that the first half of the episode will air three weeks early, on Dec. 15, at 9PM ET.

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