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Connie Britton: Why can't 'Friday Night Lights' score an Emmy touchdown?

June 22, 2009 |  1:20 pm

How "Friday Night Lights" will fare at the Emmys is one of the most curious cliffhangers in this year's contest. Will it finally break into the game for best drama series and earn notice for stars Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton?

It's only been nominated three times (once for directing, twice for casting — it won one of the latter bids in 2007), but the critically acclaimed show about intrigue in a Texas town where high-school football is king has come close to scoring big time.

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During the show's first two seasons, "Friday Night Lights" made the Emmys' top 10 lists of semi-finalists for best drama series and Kyle Chandler made the run-off for best actor (a list of 15 contenders in 2006, 10 in 2007). In its freshman season, Britton made the short list for best actress, but now she competes in the supporting slot. None of those bids resulted in nominations when judging panels whittled the lists down to five nominees in each race, but the show and its stars showed consistent Emmy strength when run-offs were determined by a popular vote of academy members. This year, the TV academy has dropped the judging panels during the first voting round, leaving a popular vote to determine nominees, but the number of nominations per category will expand to six from the usual five in those categories. That might help.

"Friday Night Lights" proved to be kudos-worthy in the past. It won the award for best program of the year bestowed by the Television Critics Association in 2007. TCA has nominated it three times for best drama series. Chandler was nominated once and Britton twice for best individual achievement in drama. The latter category is a performance contest that combines male and female actors, but it usually scorns women, so Britton's repeat bids are noteworthy. The show has also received nominations from the Writers' and Screen Actors' Guilds.

If any TV series needs awards love, it's "Friday Night Lights," which has only managed to fend off early cancellation in the face of low ratings thanks to strong praise from TV critics and persistent support from NBC and, most recently, DirectTV, which now partners with the peacock web to produce and telecast the show.

But why does such a socko TV program have to struggle at all to stay alive? And what's going on in the Emmy game where "Friday Night Lights" continues to get close to the goal line, but not score a touchdown?

Gold Derby chats with Connie Britton to hear her views. As a follow-up, we set up a discussion thread in our forums to solicit thoughts from our posters about "Friday Night Lights," Britton's performance and what sample episode she should submit to Emmy judges if she finally reaps a nominationa on July 16.

Photo: NBC

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