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FNL BOSS TO REPRISE ROLE

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Producer/director/actor Peter Berg, who brought Friday Night Lights to television and will direct the big-screen continuation of the series, says he will reprise his role as real estate mogul – and Tami Taylor’s ex-boyfriend – Mo McArnold. Berg told Digital Spy that the character, who appeared in the second-season episode “May the Best Man Win,” will be “madder and richer than ever.” The Berg-directed Battleship, the big-budget action film based on the popular board game, hits theaters May 18. The film also stars FNL alum Taylor Kitsch. Fans of the series still have an opportunity to own a piece of Friday Night Lights by bidding on wardrobe items worn on-screen by the cast. Current auctions include wardrobe items from Kyle Chandler (who plays Coach Taylor), Aimee Teegarden (Julie Taylor), Jesse Plemons (who pays Landry Clarke) and many more! Click here to see all of the Friday Night Lights auctions and place your bid today!

 

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED RANKS 10 GREATEST 'FNL' MOMENTS

In a series retrospective, Sports Illustrated/CNN’s Bryan Armen Graham contributed his list of 10 Greatest Moments in 5 seasons of ‘FNL’. The following is an excerpt…

FNL was more than a high school soap opera about a football team from the fictional town of Dillon, Texas. It was an unflinching look at a town where sports touches everything, offering a tableau of Middle America with a realism and introspection seldom seen on network TV.
Shot in Austin in real-life locations rather than antiseptic soundstages, often with hundreds of locals populating the fringes as extras, the show benefited from a rare authenticity. Untraditional methods reigned: Three cameras tracked each take, with actors free to alter their lines. The result was an organic experience that consistently elevated the show throughout its five-year run.

Football quickly became the least interesting part of the show — almost a MacGuffin — thanks to a steady diet of compelling story arcs and well-drawn characters inhabited by one of the deepest benches of acting talent in the business. An arsenal of simple but powerful storytelling elements — like sports talk radio jock Slammin’ Sammy Meade and the play-by-play announcers who oversee the action like a Greek chorus — gave FNL a timeless yet modern feel.

Choosing a list of the best moments from the series is a thankless assignment, but here are 10 of our favorites:

“We will be tested.” (Season 1, Episode 1)
The last eight minutes of the pilot deliver a cascade of indelible images, all expertly cross-cut into a tapestry of pain and wonder: the buzzsaw cutting open Jason Street’s helmet in the ER, second-string quarterback Matt Saracen leading a fourth-quarter comeback, cheer captain Lyla Garrity crying in the hospital corridor, the Smash Williams-led prayer circle dovetailing into Coach Eric Taylor’s powerful speech: “It is this pain that allows us to look inside ourselves.” The unforgettable closing sequence set the stage for one of the best self-contained seasons of television ever produced.

“Champions don’t complain.” (Season 1, Episode 3)
With selfishness and excuse-making pervading the Panthers in the wake of an upset loss, Coach Taylor buses his players to a remote location in the middle of the night and makes them run wind sprints uphill in a driving rainstorm. Lather, rinse, repeat … until Smash invokes the team’s motto — “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose!” — in a galvanizing moment that saves the team from disarray. It’s one of the most memorable and symbolic scenes of the series.

“Why don’t you take your Members Only jacket off and hang it on the coat rack?” (Season 1, Episode 9)
The entire sequence of Saracen’s first date with Julie Taylor is one of the show’s best, capped by the poignant scene of Saracen getting called home prematurely to lure his grandmother out of a locked bathroom by imitating his grandfather singing Mr. Sandman. (“It was the first time I got to see the real Matt Saracen,” recounts Julie in a post-date debriefing with Tami.) But it’s the moment when Chandler opens the door for Matt and prods his jacket, with a blend of incredulity and thinly veiled anger, that captures the disarming, wrong-footing humor that made Coach Taylor such an unforgettable character.

“There’s nothing wrong with you. There’s nothing wrong with you at all.” (Season 2, Episode 14)
Spurned by Julie, seemingly forgotten by his father abroad and wasting away on the Panthers’ bench, Saracen shows up to school directionless and drunk. When Coach grabs the quarterback and tosses him into the shower, Gilford delivers a scene of raw catharsis, asking why everybody in his life abandons him. It’s an emotionally stripped-down scene that helped restore faith in the series after an uncharacteristic sophomore slump early in a season abbreviated by the Writers Guild of America strike.

“I’m goin’ to college, Momma.” (Season 2, Episode 15)
As FNL progressed from year to year, the producers did an excellent job of integrating new characters as old ones graduated and moved on. When Smash’s fate is jeopardized after he loses his scholarship to the prestigious TMU because of a race-related fight in a movie theater, a deus ex machina comes in the form of an unlikely scholarship offer from Whitmore College, an HBCU whose coach has scouted Smash since middle school. Smash’s tearful exchange of the news with his mother is one of the series’ most satisfying payoffs.

“It’s not that I think I’m going to get all these things, I just want the possibility of getting them.” (Season 3, Episode 13)
When Tyra Collette reads the college admissions essay to the University of Texas she worked on with Landry Clarke during the drive up to Austin for the state championship game, it offers a pleasing farewell to one of the series’ most beloved characters. The entire episode — written as a series finale during one of the show’s multiple cancellation scares — is golden, capped by a powerful speech from Coach Taylor after a Saracen-led rally (following freshman phenom J.D. McCoy’s halftime benching) comes up short.

“I’m just having a moment here.” (Season 4, Episode 5)
Saracen’s pent-up grief over the recent death of his father in Iraq bubbles throughout this powerful episode, climaxing when he breaks into a funeral home to see the face of his father, gruesomely disfigured by an IED and hidden within a closed casket. The compulsively reserved Saracen finally breaks down during a dinner at the Taylor house, confessing that he hates his father and wishes he could say so to his father’s face — only he doesn’t have one. Critics everywhere hailed it as the consistently strong Gilford’s finest work.

“I did it. I did it all. You did not do anything.” (Season 4, Episode 13)
From the moment we’re introduced to a half-drunk Tim Riggins at the Dillon Panthers’ media day in the pilot, we know we’re dealing with one of TV’s all-time great self-defeating antiheroes, whose days and nights of heroic drinking uncannily never affected his conditioning. By agreeing to take the fall for his brother’s chop shop to ensure Billy’s unborn son won’t grow up fatherless, a character dogged by a state of arrested development manages to achieve manhood on his own difficult terms.

“We’re getting there. Slowly but surely, we’re getting there.” (Season 5, Episode 5)
When the Lions set off for a rematch of a game they forfeited early in Season 4, it’s a scene from the hotel on the night before the game that shows how far these East Dillon outcasts thrown together by circumstance have come. Luke Cafferty joins Vince Howard on his hotel balcony, and they’re soon joined by Dallas Tinker and Hastings Ruckle for a late-night bull session about porn and fried food, memories and hopes. All the while, Coach Taylor sits in the shadows eavesdropping from his own patio — listening with satisfaction as a palpable camaraderie forms between these boys who would be a team. The touching, understated moment is among the high points of the East Dillon years.

“Eighteen years…” (Season 5, Episode 12)
The Taylor marriage was always the heart of FNL, particularly the brilliantly wrought arguments and discussions that captured the depth of their friendship. At no point was that more evident than in the finale, when Tami is weighing an offer to be Dean of Admissions at Philadelphia’s Braemore College while Eric contemplates the future. “I have been a coach’s wife for 18 years,” Tami says. “I don’t see why we can’t look at something else beyond football.”

Used with permission. Copyright 2011 Sports Illustrated/CNN.

Bid on props and wardrobe from all five Friday Night Lights seasons at vipfanauctions.com

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS FOR 'FNL' FANS

This week’s auctions provide an absolutely unbelieveable opportunity for fans of ‘Friday Night Lights’ looking to own a piece of the show’s history. Auctions close somewhere around midday (check your local time zone) Tuesday, August 2nd.

On the block this week are two items that I’m shocked aren’t attracting more attention.

The Dillon Panthers state championship shadowbox was auctioned once before. The buyer had second thoughts and sent it back. The familiar white #1 Panthers jersey is mounted in a large wood-framed shadow box along with a special oversized game ticket. Coach Taylor, Tim Riggins, Smash Williams and Matt Saracen won the state championship in a year when the team watched their highly recruited starting quarterback Jason Street laying paralyzed on the field in the season’s first game. This is truly a one-of-a-kind momento and it’s an absolute steal right now.

Coach Taylor has been a success coaching every team at every level. Seasons 1-3, he led the Dillon Panthers. In Seasons 4 and 5, he led the upstart East Dillon Lions from, literally nowhere, to a Texas High School state championship. At the end of Season 5, we see Coach in eastern Pennsylvania heading up the program at Pemberton High School. We’ve assembled a collection of playbooks from each of Eric Taylor’s coaching stops…one three ring binder from each school. No one will have all three…together…in one collection…except one, single, lucky fan.
Bid now at vipfanauctions.com for auctions closing Tuesday, August 2nd.

COLLECTOR'S DREAM…FOR A BARGAIN

Friday Night Lights fans…here is an opportunity to pick up a truly unique collectible package from one of television’s greatest dramas.

Up this week at vipfanauctions.com is a set of tickets to Coach Eric Taylor’s (KYLE CHANDLER) two state championship games. The first, as coach of the Dillon Panthers came in Season 1. Tim Riggins (TAYLOR KITSCH), Matt Saracen (ZACH GILFORD), Smash Williams (GAIUS CHARLES) and the Panthers defeated the West Cambria Mustangs on the game’s final play. Then, in Season 5, Taylor led the East Dillon Lions to victory over the Hudgins Hawks, also on the game’s final play.

This package includes one ticket to each game. Framed and with the certificate of authenticity, this collection is not only rare, but it guaranteed to get a reaction from visitors to your man cave.

At the time of this post, 24 hours remain in this auction and this incredibly iconic collection has just 10 bidders. The price stands at about a hundred bucks. Wow! Own a piece of television history…these rare tickets “bookend” FNL’s five glorious seasons…and they can be yours. Join the bidding now at vipfanauctions.com

FNL EARNS EMMY NOMINATIONS IN MAJOR DRAMATIC CATAGORIES

And the nominees are…

Congrats to Friday Night Lights. The drama, whose final episode airs Friday July 15, was nominated for Outstanding Drama, along with ‘Boardwalk Empire’, ‘The Good Wife’, ‘Mad Men’, ‘Dexter’ and ‘Game of Thrones’. For ‘FNL’, this is the show’s 10th Emmy nomination overall. It’s only win was for Outstanding Casting in 2007.

Also nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series are Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton as Eric and Tami Taylor.

Chandler, who plays East Dillon High School football Coach Eric Taylor, is up against Michael C. Hall of ‘Dexter’, Steve Buscemi of ‘Boardwalk Empire’, Jon Hamm of ‘Mad Men’, Hugh Laurie of ‘House’ and Timothy Olyphant of ‘Justified’. This is Chandler’s third nomination.

Britton faces some formidable competition, as well. Elisabeth Moss of ‘Mad Men’, Mariska Hargitay of ‘Law and Order SVU’, Mireille Enos of ‘The Killing’ and Julianna Margulies in ‘The Good Wife’ round out the nominees. This is Britton’s second nomination.

Overall, ‘Mad Men’ led with 19 nominations, followed closely by ‘Boardwalk Empire’ with 18. ‘Modern Family’ led sitcoms with 17.

The Emmy’s air Sunday, September 18th on FOX.

Find one-of-a-kind screen-used collectibles from Friday Night Lights and dozens of other shows at vipfanauctions.com

ESPN NETWORKS TO AIR 'FNL'

Friday’s series finale of the critically-acclaimed series Friday Night Lights appears to be just the beginning. Throughout five seasons, the show has struggled for an audience. It was nearly cancelled three different times. Fortunately, the show continued through a partnership between NBC/Universal and DirecTv.

As we draw toward the series finale airing Friday, the show (which struggled on a brief run on ABC Family) is getting legs on cable once again. Tuesday (opposite MLB’s All-Star game), cable giant ESPN aired the first two episodes of the series during prime time. They will broadcast an ‘FNL’ marathon beginning Thursday July 14th on ESPN Classic. ESPN Films and ESPN Classics vice president and executive producer Connor Schell, said, “At its core, Friday Night Lights captures the blend of drama, excitement and heartache that embodies what it means to be a sports fan, leading to its very loyal and passionate following among viewers.”

We couldn’t agree more.

The five season marathon will air on a new ESPN channel dedicated exclusively to University of Texas, the Longhorn Network, through a partnership forged between the cable giant and the University in early 2010.

The announcement comes with an additional lift from long time fan and ESPN sports personality Bill Simmons. He will use new sports and pop culture site Grantland to publish an oral history of the show, from FNL’s cast and crew.

On behalf of ‘FNL’ fans everywhere, I’ll say…”can’t wait”…

Bid on Friday Night Lights screen used memorabilia, props and wardrobe exclusively at vipfanauctions.com

TICKETS TO THE BIGGEST GAME OF THEIR LIVES

One of the coolest items we’ve ever offered up for auction came from ‘Friday Night Lights’. In the week that one of American television’s greatest dramatic series airs it’s final episode, we offer a set of 4 state championship tickets…the East Dillon Lions versus the Hudgins Hawks.

Nevermind that this game never actually took place. It’s the journey that matters. It’s the climb from obscurity for the two-year old Dillon Texas stepchild, the East Dillon Lions. It’s redemption for Coach Eric Taylor, who was pushed out just one season removed from a Texas HS state championship as head coach of the Dillon (now West Dillon) Panthers. It’s Vince Howard and the internal battle faced by a hardened street kid. It’s farmboy Luke Cafferty, who never intended to attend East in the first place.

All that, plus the Riggins’, the Collette’s, Becky, Jess and Buddy Garrity equal one eagerly anticipated finale. While there is little doubt that the East Dillon Lions win the game, remember…it’s the journey that matters…and what a ride it’s been.

So long…to a memorable piece of series television…produced by people committed to doing it right. We’ll all miss Friday Night Lights. But, you can own a piece of the show’s storied history…check out this set of 4 tickets to the state championship game. You’ll see them in the series finale episode, but bid on them now at vipfanauctions.com

Clear eyes, Full hearts, Can’t lose…

RICHARD ROEPER ON TV'S GREATEST DRAMA

The following is part of a July 14th column by the Chicago Sun-Times Richard Roeper.

Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.

If you know what that means, you know one of the best dramas in the history of television reaches its broadcast TV conclusion this Friday night.

Like “MASH,” “Friday Night Lights” is that extremely rare television adaptation that’s even more memorable than the book and the movie that preceded it. For the last five years, this series has outperformed the vast majority of movies I’ve seen. At times it has achieved the level of true modern art.

“Friday Night Lights” hung its story lines on small-town Texas football, but the games themselves were often the least powerful moments. Too many dramatic, last-minute plays. But this show wasn’t really about football. It was about the ties that bind. It was about family, and friendship, and the real problems that teenagers and their parents face in the America of the 2000s.

There was always more than meets the eyes. A state championship parade, with visuals out of a political campaign video or a car commercial, was accompanied by the song “Devil Town,” which is anything but sunny and simple. Someone you’d categorize as a bimbo or a thug or a hero would turn out to be so much more. (Or less.)

We knew “FNL” was going to be something special from season one, in which the star QB was paralyzed, the seemingly perfect cheerleader questioned her world, and some of the kids who seemed to have it made in fact came from shattered homes.

Kyle Chandler as Coach Eric Taylor and Connie Britton as his counselor wife Tami gave us one of the most realistic portrayals of marriage in TV history. Aimee Teegarden was the most authentic teenage girl on television since Claire Danes in “My So-Called Life.”

Through the seasons, “Friday Night Lights” dealt with issues ranging from class warfare to drug addiction to abortion to murder, almost never devolving into soap opera. There were more than a dozen characters that could have carried their own series, from Zach Gilford’s Matt Saracen to Adrianne Palicki’s Tyra to the Riggins brothers to Buddy Garrity, played by the invaluable Brad Leland.

From the dominance of the Dillon Panthers to the rags-to-football-riches story of the East Dillon Lions, “Friday Night Lights” never wavered in its mission to deliver complex, authentic, richly textured drama.

When its run on NBC ends, the series will be replayed on ESPN Classic. If you’ve been watching every episode since 2006, you probably share my love for this show. If you haven’t seen it, you’re in for a glorious ride.

Used with permission.
For FNL props and wardrobe, check out www.vipfanauctions.com to bid on screen used items from all five seasons of one of television’s greatest dramatic series.

THE UNUSUAL JOURNEY OF LaMARCUS TINKER

“Just supporting a couple of friends…”
that’s how LaMarcus Tinker’s acting career began. Three young actors from Houston paid 33.50 each for bus tickets to Austin. Two had roles as extras in the NBC drama FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. The third just thought it sounded like a cool ‘road trip’.

The three arrived a day early for the first day of shooting. They had no food, no place to stay and no transportation to the shooting location. So, LaMarcus Tinker and his two friends sat down under a tree outside the bus depot and wondered what to do next.

LaMarcus made a phone call to an old theater teacher. She arranged hotel accomodations and food for the three young men. Once on location, Tinker was playing pool with a man he thought to be a crew member. It turned out to be the show’s director, Peter Berg, who immediately took a liking to LaMarcus.

He admits his first scene was a little nerve-wracking. Berg put Tinker is a scene with FNL veteran Taylor Kitsch and newcomer Madison Burge. He’s been a recurring character ever since. Big #79 is known as “Dallas” Tinker on the show. He protects quarterback Vince Howard and holds down the defensive line, too. This season he even picked up a fumble and scored a touchdown. The ensuing touchdown celebration dance was…uh…memorable…

You can also see LaMarcus Tinker on ABC’s ‘Cougartown’. Not bad for a guy who left Houston two buddies, the clothes on his back and a 33 dollar bus ticket.

For a chance to bid on LaMarcus Tinker’s East Dillon Lions practice jersey and other FNL props and wardrobe, go to vipfanauctions.com. Auctions close June 7th.