(By Dan Barbossa, TODAY Associate Producer)
NBC News Correspondent Janet Shamlian and I had the opportunity to go down to Austin, Texas (my first time in the Lone Star state) earlier this month to visit the set of NBC's "Friday Night Lights" for a segment that aired today. WATCH VIDEO
Now, when I got this assignment I was a little apprehensive. I mean, I saw the movie, but I really didn't watch the television show at all. Prepping for the shoot, I began watching a few episodes, and I was immediately hooked. I was on the phone with Janet a few days before heading to Austin and said to her, "This show really isn't about football." She agreed.
The show began in October 2006 to critical acclaim, but it seems the viewers didn't catch on. I have no idea why - the storylines are great, the characters are great and football serves as just a backdrop to the real action that happens in Dillon, Texas (the fictional town where the show takes place.) Maybe I am just a proud peacock, being the company man that I am, but whatever, the show stands out to me...it's real people with real problems. They have this saying on the Dillon football team on the show, "Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose." The cast, crew and rabid fans on the Internet have taken that and made it into their own "Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Season 2" to tell the higher ups here at NBC that even though the ratings are low they deserve another season with the show.
Ok, back to the set visit. I can't say anything but good things about our visit. We got great access to the cast and crew, and they were really happy that we were there. One thing that really stood out to me was that all of the camera unit people were wearing ties. Completely random I know. I asked one of them, "Why are you guys wearing ties?" To which he responded, "I don’t know, we decided on Saturday night that this was tie day, we had camouflage day a few weeks back too." That basically sums up the vibe on the set of "FNL."
We didn't get to meet the whole cast - just Kyle Chandler ("Eric Taylor"), Connie Britton ("Tami Taylor"), Taylor Kitsch ("Tim Riggins"), Aimee Teegarden ("Julie Taylor") and Zach Gilford ("Matt Saracen".) A fun bunch who work hard and play hard. When we met Kyle and Connie you could tell off the bat they have such great chemistry off-screen that parlays into great chemistry on-screen as well.
The "FNL" crew moves really fast to and from locations, and with 3 cameras operating in unison at each location, I was in awe as we tried to move just as a fast to keep up with them while trying to stay out of their way.
We had so much extra footage that we put together a separate spot you can view here only on the web. WATCH VIDEO There are only 4 episodes left this season, so give the show a shot...
Let me know if I am just a proud peacock, or if you think this show should be renewed by NBC Execs for another go around …
Also check out Janet Shamlian's Blog on ivillage where she also talks about our set visit.