The most surprisingly thing about FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS isn’t that it doesn’t actually air on Friday Nights. Rather it’s the fact that this TV addict, who’s never actually watched a football game in its entirety, was riveted by the first two episodes from the moment the pilot kicked off.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, based on the popular movie of the same name, revolves around the small rural town of Dillon, Texas, and its obsession with their local High School Football Team (the town literally shuts down on Fridays to attend the games). The show stars Kyle Chandler (GREY’S ANATOMY, KING KONG) as the team’s coach and features Connie Britton (SPIN CITY, 24) as his supporting wife. Taking a page from DEGRASSI’S playbook, the show has actually cast actors who refreshingly look like they could be in high school, including Scott Porter (ALL MY CHILDREN), Gaius Charles (BOOK OF DANIEL), Taylor Kitsch (KYLE XY), Zach Gilford (THE LAST WINTER) and Minka Kelly (WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU).
Of course, the big question is whether the television audience [especially women] will tune into a weekly show about football. “The show isn’t just a ‘football’ show. It’s a character driven series, with football as the backdrop.” Promises executive producer Peter Berg, “We’ll be dealing issues such as grade fixing, and the personal relationships between players. Issues that we would have loved to include in the movie, but we never had time for.”
One thing that wasn’t lost in the transition to the small screen was the unique and gritty style of the film. Director Peter Berg shots the pilot almost as if it’s a documentary, or better yet, a reality show — complete with shaky camera and actor improvisation. The docu-drama style perfectly compliments the show, making the audience feel as if they’re part of the the small town of Dillon. Through Berg’s camera, the audience will quickly grasp how much pressure is on these young athletes, and how an entire town’s hope and pride is pinned on this football team.
For his part, producer Brian Grazer is used to the pressure of a weekly television series. Having produced original hits such as FELICITY and 24, he’s cautiously optimistic, “I know that an unconventional format is often subject to a rough start. I’m confident though that if people tune into the show, they’ll stay with it, and their interest will accelerate. Our fingers our crossed that people will tune in.”
But back to the show’s somewhat inaccurate title. Would Grazer rather see FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS air on Friday Night? “I don’t want to tempt fate or second guess it right now.” Grazer trails off, “I don’t know… we’ll have to wait and see.”