I know, it was all over the news yesterday. But NBC released the official announcement today, and I have posted it after the jump. DirecTV again, two seasons, 13 episodes each. And while I am reluctant to look too closely at this gift horse, I have to think that (a) things are so lousy for NBC that it could afford to let one time slot go for a quality show that will never dominate in the ratings (the release doesn't even mention numbers), and (b) with five prime-time hours of Leno looming, the network had to save at least one acclaimed show to demonstrate that it hadn't completely given up on the idea of being, well, a real network. But I am glad it's coming back. And so to the jump.
Here's the announcement:
NBC Universal and DIRECTV -- the nation's leading satellite television provider – have extended their innovative and multi-platform partnership from last year to produce 26 episodes that would launch the fourth and fifth seasons of the critically acclaimed drama series, "Friday Night Lights." The series would air first on DIRECTV and then subsequently on NBC with 13 episodes each during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons.
DIRECTV would have exclusive rights to the 13 new episodes for each of the series' fourth and fifth seasons on DIRECTV's entertainment channel "The 101 Network."
Last year's arrangement provided for 13 new episodes to be produced. Specific broadcast dates for the new installments on both NBC and DIRECTV will be announced later.
The announcements were made by Ben Silverman, Co-Chairman, NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios, and Marc Graboff, Co-Chairman, NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios, and Eric Shanks, Executive Vice President of Entertainment for DIRECTV. The deal was brokered by NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution.
The series is executive-produced by Peter Berg (the film "Friday Night Lights"), Jason Katims ("Roswell"), Imagine Entertainment's Brian Grazer ("Frost/Nixon" "The Da Vinci Code") and David Nevins ("Arrested Development"), Sarah Aubrey ("The Kingdom") and director Jeffrey Reiner ("Caprica").
"We're proud that a deal for the renewal of 'Friday Night Lights' has been reached," said Silverman. "It is one of the best shows in the history of television and we've worked hard to keep it alive for future seasons. NBC Universal has been at the forefront of creative deals such as these, which ultimately benefit audiences, critics and advertisers alike."
"Once again, this is a triumph for all parties and a vindication of this show's quality and enduring appeal," said Graboff. "We have enjoyed our successful business partnership with DIRECTV over the last year in keeping the 'Lights' on, and this deal symbolizes our strong desire to facilitate new creative ventures that will keep NBC Universal moving forward."
"The first year of our "Friday Night Lights" partnership with NBC and UMS has been both extremely successful and uniquely gratifying for everyone involved," said Shanks. "We're very happy that we'll be able to continue giving our customers something rare and special that they can't get with cable. Everyone at DIRECTV is more than ready to take the journey back to Dillon, Texas."
Expanding on the hit feature film and best-selling book "Friday Night Lights," the award-winning "Friday Night Lights" centers on life in Dillon, Texas, where high school football brings the community together -- and the drama of small town life threatens to tear it apart.
Coach Eric Taylor (Emmy nominee Kyle Chandler, ""The Day the Earth Stood Still"), his wife Tami (Connie Britton, "24") have faced countless challenges over the course of the last three school years; juggling responsibilities between family, work and pressures from the community, and raising their teenaged daughter, Julie (Aimee Teegarden, "90210"). The past school year brought a wave of change to Dillon, including the arrival of the affluent McCoy family, including Joe (D.W. Moffat, "Grey's Anatomy") and Katie (Janine Turner, "Strong Medicine") and their freshman son, rising star quarterback J.D. McCoy (Jeremy Sumpter, "CSI:" Miami"). The McCoy's befriended all the right people in town -- except for Coach Eric Taylor, who felt challenged and threatened by the power they wielded. Coach Taylor and Tami try to quickly recover from Joe McCoy's premeditated political play, which forced Coach Taylor out as the Panther's head coach. The Taylor's now find themselves adjusting to these changes and open to the new possibilities that lay ahead at rival East Dillon High.
Additionally, the graduating senior class took a step closer to adulthood as they rode out their last year of high school. Tyra Colette (Adrianne Palicki, "Supernatural") sorted out her feelings for Landy (Jesse Plemons, "Shrink") and did her best to stay on track with her academics and college applications; Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine") and Lyla Garrity (Minka Kelly, "The Kingdom") spent their last year examining their friendship and future as a couple. That which should have been the best year for senior quarterback Matt Saracen (Zach Gilford, "The Last Winter") proved to be a difficult one, as he dealt with his ailing grandmother's needs, rebuilding a relationship with his mother and increasing competition to get playtime on the field. Meanwhile, Jason Street (Scott Porter, "Speed Racer") and Brian "Smash" Williams (Gaius, Charles, "The Messenger") make bold decisions to pursue new opportunities and lives outside of Dillon.
Hailed as one of the Top-10 shows by numerous publications such as Time magazine, Entertainment Weekly and the New York Times, "Friday Night Lights" also has been honored two years in a row (2006/2007) as an American Film Institute (AFI) Television Program of the Year, received the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award in 2006 and won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series in 2007.
"Friday Night Lights" is a production of Universal Media Studios, Imagine Entertainment and Film 44.