EMMYS: Jason Katims – 'Friday Night Lights' And 'Parenthood'

Jason Katims specializes in heartstrings-tugging family shows, from the football clan he executive produced on DirecTV/NBC’s Friday Night Lights to the blood ties of the Bravermans he lays bare in NBC’s Parenthood. Both his two drama series followed feature films of the same name, both are low-rated despite a passionate and vocal fan base, and both have fought to be renewed each year. Friday Night Lights ended its fifth and final run recently, but Parenthood will start Season Three this fall. Now, Emmy voters could conceivably nominate both shows and cast members this year. Friday Night Lights received 2010 Emmy nods for Outstanding Drama Series and for stars Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, so a posthumous award is very possible in 2011. Katims talks to Deadline TV Contributor Diane Haithman:

DEADLINE: Does Friday Night Lights have a shot at Emmy even though it’s cancelled?
JASON KATIMS: I really don’t know the answer to that. Let’s talk about getting nominated first. I do know that with the actors getting nominated last year, plus two additional nominations for casting and writing, we were shocked. Earlier in the run, when we were hearing all these Emmy rumors, I remember getting up at some ungodly hour to hear the live feed of the announcements. And of course we didn’t get any nominations. So I was really thrilled to see what happened last year, and I hope it will help in this final season to maybe have the show break through. It reminds me a lot of a Friday Night Lights episode about the final seconds of the game. It would honestly be more meaningful now after the series is over to have that kind of recognition.

DEADLINE: Do you thinks there’s any hope for Parenthood as an Emmy wild card?
KATIMS: I think so. As the show continued into its second season, I really noticed a change in the way critics and viewers were looking at the show. It has 15 series regular characters in it — probably twice as many as most shows — and it takes some time for the audience to get to know them and get comfortable with who they are and get to understand all the relationships. Once they have that, the enjoyment of the show really goes up so much. I also think if you look at our cast, Lauren Graham, Peter Krause, they are worthy of being recognized. We’ll see how far we get this year.

DEADLINE: Do the Academy members have a bias against these kinds of shows?
KATIMS: I don’t know. It’s hard to say. It may be true that they don’t feel edgy to Emmy voters. Maybe they never had that immediate ‘You gotta watch it now’ kind of a thing. But I think people who do find them really love them.

DEADLINE: Are Emmy voters influenced by headlines for on-the-bubble series like Parenthood and Friday Night Lights which are always in danger of being cancelled?
KATIMS: There was a spirit to Friday Night Lights, I really think there was, about getting those 76 episodes made. I felt so many positive vibes coming from everybody doing that show that we were able to keep it going. The marketing was always a challenge, not that I had the answer to that. But to figure out how to communicate that a show with football in it is not about football, that you don’t have to know or love football to get the show. I remember around the time we were first doing the show, my son had an overnight field trip to Sacramento, and I went on the field trip as one of the parents. I was the only Dad, all the others were Moms. And I stood there passionately telling them that this show is more for women than for men. And they just looked at me like, ‘Oh, this poor pathetic writer trying to get people to sample his show.’

  1. If there aren’t at least noms for Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton this year, I really don’t know if I can even bother watching The Emmys this year. If they don’t know what the hell they’re even talking about, I don’t know if I’ll watch.

    1. The greatest depiction of a marriage in the history of television.

      Thanks to the writers and to Kyle and Connie who were phenomenal in their roles. I wish I could be like Coach Taylor.

  2. The show, Friday Night Lights, was a God send for me. As a sport psychology consultant, I was able to borrow some actual lines and football concepts to use with the high school football team I worked for that had its 1st ever perfect regular season in the history of the school! That’s how powerful the relationships in this show came across for me as a professional. The episodes were so compelling that I felt like a kid in a candy store waiting each week to watch them, often with misty eyes. I’m so grateful this show was on TV for 5 years. I extend an appreciative thank you to all involved in making it happen. You did a very excellent job!

  3. Parenthood is so blah. It’s like, “Okay, whatever, this is on, so I guess I’ll watch it, and yeah, it’s entertaining enough, but if it goes away tomorrow… well, who cares?” Also, their “natural dialogue” on the show is so irritating.

  4. I 100 percent agree that Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton should be nominated for the final season of Friday Night Lights. In a perfect world, they would both take the statues home this year … Their performances were that good.

    I also thought Michael B. Jordan and Cress Williams (Vince and his home from prison father, Ornette, turned in stellar performances).

  5. IMO Best DRAMA of the past decade. FNL is just due. It’s coming off its final season and lived up to expectations. The show that never gets respect it greatly deserves. Katims should be nominated as well as the writing staff, good job this season.

  6. I use Friday Night Lights as an example of best practice when teaching my MA TV students. Colossal show, sadly missed and thoroughly deserving of at least a few nods. PS. Mr 4, if you don’t like Parenthood’s ‘natural dialogue’ (note no misused quotation marks), and it is so blah, as you put, then stop watching.

  7. I know this is a free country but Mr.4: 11 year olds should really refrain from posting comments on blogs that are meant for adults to have discussions about what’s going on in the entertainment industry.

    Both Parenthood and Friday Night Lights are nothing short of pure gems. The fact that the ratings are low speaks tons about the state of the American TV watching public and nothing about the quality of these amazing shows.

  8. Friday Night Lights was a brilliant series. Too bad it wasn’t watched by people who think they are for more sophisticated than they really are and wouldn’t be caught dead watching a series about Texas high school football.

  9. Always loved Jason Katims’s work! A strong fan of Friday Night Lights and Parenthood, and will forever love Roswell. I will always follow his career, as he produces some of the most compelling characters on tv.

    1. Truer statements I rarely see on Deadline. Parenthood is an amazing show with some of the best performances on TV. ROSWELL is my favorite show ever. Such compelling characters and overlooked performances due to the Scifi-Teen elements.

  10. I will always give a show a chance if i find out that Jason Katims is involved.
    I was a teen growing up during his time with MY SO-CALLED LIFE and i was hooked.
    I was skeptical at first with PARENTHOOD since this was basically a TV version of the movie and also them having to recast the Maura Tierney role.
    I have grown to love it.
    I also got hooked on FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS and i don’t even like football but i soon found out it is so much more than that.

    Oh shout out to W.G. Snuffy Walden love his scores for MSCL & FNL

  11. I am a huge fan of Friday Night Lights, but I wanted to correct one thing from this interview. The first season the show was nominated for two Emmy awards, Directing & Casting. The show actually won the Emmy for Casting that year. I believe that is the only Emmy Friday Night Lights has been honored with in the first 4 seasons. I hope there will be more this year.

  12. Friday Night Lights is the BEST show on TV. The casting is brilliant, one of those shows where everyone will become major stars. While so many females on these shows are eye-candy, supporting, or stereotypical, the women on this show are interesting, fully developed, and get the major storylines. The unconventional track of Tyra throughout the first few seasons was a real break through. Kids stories and adults mix seemlessly, and are given equal weight. Simply the best!

  13. Katims started on My So Called Life and was a wonderful person and writer even then. He is one of the few talented and nice guys in town and he deserves his success. Shocks me that FNL was continually overlooked at Emmy time. Hope it finally changes.

  14. loved friday night lights.

    one of the best written and acted shows on television. also, beautifully shot.

    kyle chandler, connie britton and the writers deserve emmy’s. sorry it’s over, but one can rent/stream it on netflix.

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