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.’
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