Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Austin, Part 3: Friday Night Lights

Here are a few things you should know about one of TV's top series, "Friday Night Lights."

-Jesse Plemons (Landry) is the spitting image of Matt Damon, albeit with red hair. In fact, he played the younger version of Damon' character in "All The Pretty Horses." He also bears an uncanny resemblance to Glenn Morshower, who was cast as his father on "FNL." "He kind of looks like me more than my real father does," Plemons said with a chuckle.

-Minka Kelly (Lyla) is even more beautiful in person than on TV, which is saying something. She's a combination of a runway model and the girl next door. She wasn't bothered by the negative fan mail she got last season after Lyla had an affair with Tim Riggins. "It's the most rewarding," she said. "Knowing I had that affect on people. It's not frustrating at all. If your pissing someone off, you are doing something right. We're doing OK."

The show is filmed in Austin, and the cast and crew love the location filming, especially trying to capture that small-town feel of the show. Producer Jeffrey Reiner said both the book "Friday Night Lights" and the movie (directed by series producer Peter Berg) influence the series in trying to capture that feel.

The cast and crew say there is a lot more ad-libbing than most TV shows. Actors are given scripts only a few days before shooting (Plemons joked scripts are protected like drugs on the set) and that there is no blocking or marks on the set. The crew uses hand-held cameras to capture the action.

As for the controversial plot twist this season, when Landry and Tyra killed a man then dumped the body, the cast and crew have heard the complaints.

"The storyline is really powerful, really intense," Plemons said. "As an actor, you always want something that will make you uncomfortable. ... I really like the fact that people are upset. It means they really do care. What I've said is to give it a couple of episodes to let it play out, then make up your mind."

By the way, the scenes at the Dairy Queen between Matt and Smash are Reiner's favorites. "We get all this free ice cream," he said.

As for the show's low ratings despite critical acclaim, the cast and crew are taking it in stride, just trying to put out the best product possible. Reiner said NBC has been pretty good about staying hands off with the show, though the first season's promos that focused on the football aspect of the show probably hurt it.

And if this is the last season for "FNL"?

"I'm so proud (of the stories we tell)," Kelly said, "the growth you go through with these characters. If (the show) was done today, I'm so fulfilled and so grateful. I'm probably never going to do work like this again."

AROUND THE DIAL: Serialized shows keep adding names - "Rescue Me's" Andrea Roth will join the cast of "Lost" in a recurring role,'s Michael Ausiello reports.

And, completing the crew of the USS Enterprise, Aint-It-Cool News is reporting that Karl Urban will be Dr. Leonard McCoy in the new Star Trek movie.

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: Hopefully, Middle Georgians will be taking one night off to catch "Randy and the Mob" at the Cox Capitol Theatre, but if not, there are some great options on Wednesdays.

First and foremost is "Pushing Daisies," (ABC, 8 p.m.) TV's best new show, which will feature the return of Chuck's (Anna Friel) loopy aunts (Swoosie Kurtz, Ellen Greene). It's followed by "Private Practice," which most "Grey's Anatomy" fans haven't fallen in love with, and the inventive "Dirty Sexy Money."

Maybe if they retooled "Bionic Woman" (NBC, 9 p.m.) around the Sarah character instead of Jamie, it'd be a better show. It's followed by "Life" at 10 p.m.

I've pretty much given up on "Back To You" (Fox, 8 p.m.) despite its pedigree. It's followed by "Til Death" at 8:30 p.m. and "Kitchen Nightmares" at 9 p.m.

CBS is all-new with "Criminal Minds" (CBS, 9 p.m.) and "CSI:NY" (CBS, 10 p.m.)

Finally, the first full-season pick-up among the networks went to "Gossip Girl" (CW, 9 p.m.) which has done very well among the youth market.


zodin2008 said...

Well, it is hard to imagine Minka Kelly being even more gorgeous in person, and but it's not surprising that John Mayer latched onto her - this guy is making a living out of going after the hottest current young Hollywood starlet.

Jessie Plemmons/Landry is probably my favorite character outside of Saracen and the Taylors - glad you had the chance to talk to him. He sounds like he's got a good career ahead of him.

So, I went to read about Karl Urban since I knew nothing about him - turns out, he has always wanted to be IN "Star Trek" so it's cool that this is like a dream come true.

Overall, the cast of young Hollywood seems pretty strong - but the glaring exception is the decision to hire John Cho rather than Jason Kyson Lee for Sulu. Maybe Simon Pegg looks nothing like Scotty but at least Pegg is Scottish.

I really know very little about young actors like Chris Pine and Karl Urban (I know Cho having seen several of his films and of course I know Zachary Quinto as Sylar) but overall, JJ Abrams decision to cast with largely unknowns is absolutely the correct one.

If he starts trying to spend trillions trying to hire the likes of Matt Damon or Reese Witherspoon, they likely won't commit to a franchise and would affect the cost going into production values.

I liked the 3rd episode of "Life" more and Damien Lewis' oddball performance is growing on me. IN fact, I went into the TV fall season and thinking of the 4 NBC Dramas premiering, the one I was sure going to like the most was "Bionic Woman" and least was "Life".

And while I can't say I am completely sold on "Life" yet, it's growing on me a lot as is Lewis - whereas after 3 episodes of "Bionic", I am not sure this is something I can commit to long term with such a boring, cheesy performance in the starring role of Jamie by Michelle Ryan.

Phillip Ramati said...

You know, Ryan is a good actress. I've seen her in other things, like "Jekyll," so I don't think it's her. The character is just written very blandly, especially compared to all the meaty stuff they write for Sarah (Katee Sackhoff).

I've seen everyone except Chris Pine and the guy playing Chekov, and I think it's a good cast, even with John Cho as Sulu. (James Kyson Lee would have been better, but you can't have everything). Abrams, Kurtzman and Orci are all Trek nuts, so I think they will be able to do something pretty cool with it.

Right now, they are doing a much better job with the casting process than WB is doing with the Justice League movie. There hasn't been a single suggestion I've liked for that project, and they are skewing the cast way too young.

zodin2008 said...

I am surprised you are unfamiliar with Anton Yelchin, but I guess he has stuck mostly to Indi projects.

Yelchin is probably the most talented and accomplished actor of the 7. He plays like a middle aged adult in a teenaged body in a lot of his roles because he's always good at playing the super smart but depressed guy.

Fine, I don't really watch British TV but Michelle Ryan is playing the part so she has to take the majority of the blame - she doesn;t seem to be able to emote.

Interesting how 3 of the 4 new NBC Dramas have Brits in the lead - and at least 2 of the 3 lead performances are questionable at best (even if you like Lewis in the role - many don't).

The one Brit/Scot (?) who's been excellent in his role even if the show is rather uneven is Kevin McKidd in "Journeyman". I have found his performance to be one of the more compelling things baout the show because he's so sympathetic.