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A Very Good Lie - (Lie to Me)

Mar. 18th, 2009 | 02:45 pm

Guest-starring on a show is like jumping onto a moving train. You always hope there's someone on the train to help you up when your feet start dangling and it looks like you might get squashed on the tracks. A show that is up and running is like a big family. Everyone in the make-up trailer knows each other and all the camera guys and the grips and electricians know each other and have already decided which guys get kidded about what every day, and there are all kinds of inside jokes flying around and it's a bit like ... well, yeah, jumping onto a moving train. Sometimes it feels like everybody speaks Lithuanian and you don't!

The good news is that I've done this before and making one TV show is never usually that different from making another. That is, unless you're doing Friday Night Lights. (But that's a different story altogether as you know if you've read my previous blogs about that one). Chances are that I usually know one or two players on any given show. With everything I've been fortunate to do in my career, you usually know someone - camera, cast, crew, whatever. Just having that one connection can make all the difference in the world. Assuming your experience with that person was pleasant (don't burn bridges!) you now have someone to let people know that you are not going to make anyone's life miserable and might even do a decent job.

In this case, the one person I knew happened to have a little juice, seeing as it was the director of the show, Arvin Brown. Arvin had directed me in a play with Jason Robards a few years back in New Haven, and we had had a fantastic time working together.

So cut to the first day of work on Lie to Me. I'm trying to figure out where the orange juice is on the craft service wagon and I hear, "Hello, D.W. How nice to see you." I'm like, "Arvin?" And the rest was a breeze!

Arvin is one of those directors you pray that you get to work for. He comes from the stage, so he knows about rehearsal and character and motivation. You know, all the things that are supposed to go into a performance but sometimes don't when time is of the essence. A lot of directors are just worried about not getting the crew into overtime.

On another note, you would be shocked at the number of directors who are not very comfortable talking to actors. It's almost as if they're afraid if they do, the actor might break, like some kind of insane and fragile toy. Not Mr. Brown. He is a real pleasure to work with and that comes through in the quality of the program.

The other speed bump (or land mine!) that can occur when you guest on a show is that the cast of said show might be ... er ... a tad too busy? Yes, that's a good way to put it. They may be too busy to be concerned with, um, 'enhancing' your experience on said show. (Yes, I think I dodged all the appropriate bullets on that couple of sentences!) Now let me explain. This might include everything from out-and-out ignoring you to being unavailable for rehearsal to ... well, let your imagination run wild. I've got some real horror stories I could share, but we should leave those for another day.

On Lie To Me, I had the opposite experience. A welcoming cast with an extremely approachable and hard-working star (you all know Tim Roth, right?), combined with the excellent director, made for a rocking good time. Tim Roth is new to network television and I would imagine a bit cross-eyed from all the time he has to put in, but you could never tell it! He's always ready to go, enthusiastic, helpful ... you name it. He's an all-around excellent actor and scene partner. Where do I sign up? I want more gigs like this!

Well, we'll see what next comes my way. Maybe another fairy tale ... maybe a nightmare! Who knows?

Stay tuned and find out!

In the meantime, thanks for giving me a read and check out my TVGuide.com blog every week on Friday Night Lights.

D.W. Moffett
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Game of the Week

Mar. 13th, 2009 | 04:29 pm

Hey FNL fans! Remember what I told you about those pregnant storylines getting ready to pop? Well brace yourself — more pops are on the way! When I got the script for this week's episode, "Game of the Week," I found out what my character was going to be up to for the final episodes of the season. I was so shocked that I think I walked around in a daze in during the filming of this episode. You will see that I'm not in it much, so I spent my time walking the streets of Austin and thanking my lucky stars for the storyline that had been placed in my lap. Are you intrigued?

All I can say is stay tuned for the next four episodes because things are about to get very interesting in the McCoy house!

Now about the rest of this week's stories....

Though we do have some nice juicy storylines, I think my favorite is what happens to Tyra and her rodeo-boy. May I just say that if Tyra was waiting for me (anywhere!), I wouldn't be hanging out with the losers that rodeo boy hangs with. 'Nuff said.

Questions to think about: Why does Landry crack me up so much? Why do Riggins and Lyla keep me interested even though they have the most ... well ... standard (if you could even call either of them standard) storyline. They're playing the "star-crossed lovers" and all, so why do they keep me so interested?

Because they're so damn good! Who doesn't love seeing that look on Landry's face when he's figuring something out. Yeah, you know the one.

And the way that Riggins and Lyla look at each other? Magic. Though honestly any of these actors — Jesse Plemons, Taylor Kitsch or Minka Kelly — could make anything magic that they put their minds on. They're all great actors.

There was an article in the New York Times recently in which the author mused about who the "future stars" of the entertainment business might be and where one would find them before they became stars. She went on in the article to ask some big names (like George Clooney) where she might find these future stars.

Clooney said ... on the TV set. (We all knew that, right?)

"Where?" she asked.

He repeated — on the TV.

So that brought out a little investigative reporting and guess where she found two of her top five future stars? No really. Guess.

Friday Night Lights. That's right.

Yeah, baby.

And that, my friend, is all she wrote. See you next week.

D.W. Moffett

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From Austin to New York

Mar. 5th, 2009 | 02:44 pm

Hello there all you FNL fans!!!

As I reviewed the episode slated for this coming Friday ("New York, New York"), I was reminded of a few things.

First of all, I didn't have to do too much on this episode, so that freed me up to finally get a chance to explore Austin a little more.

If you want a town with personality, Austin is definitely it. When you think of Texas, you probably don't think of a town full of diverse culture and some of the hottest music you'll ever hear, but that's Austin. Nestled in there like a jewel. I think we shot this episode while the Austin City Limits music festival was going on and I had a blast going to the final day of the show! It was a great time as I got out and really experienced not only Austin culture but some amazing music! I got to see (amongst others) Neko Case. Let me tell you, she's my pick for genius female vocalist of the new century.

I also remember that as we filmed this episode, I was very jealous that Riggins and Jason Street got to shoot a large part of their story in Manhattan. I've been really lucky in my career to be able to film in New York, and there is something very fun about shooting in that crazy city. You don't think it's ever going to work with all the traffic and all the people, yet somehow it does. When you're watching the scenes where Riggins and Street are cruising Times Square, people are checking them out, probably thinking, "What show are those guys on?" But you know it works because it looks like a bunch of New Yorkers thinking, "Who are those two hicks and why is one in a wheelchair?" Nice!

Now back in Dillon, I have to say that I am particularly fond of the Coach and Tami storyline in this episode. Some might think it's dorky and kind of pedestrian, but the way it's played and the way it's shot are amazing. The issues that it brings up for these characters is what makes it so wonderful. As we all know, it's the little things in life that provide the telescope through which we gain insight into who and what we are. This episode illustrates that perfectly with this simple storyline. I just love Kyle [Chandler] and Connie [Britton] in these scenes. Can you say fantastic acting? Too brilliant.

Finally, the words "Texas forever" are uttered in this episode. As a Chicago native now living in L.A., I can honestly say that I never thought those words could make me almost tear up. Surprise. See what happens to you when you hear them.

Till next week,
D.W. Moffett

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Run and Gun Baby!

Feb. 27th, 2009 | 08:18 am

Hello there, all you FNL fans!

This week's episode puts us square in the middle of the season and the storylines are starting to show signs of pregnancy. No, there's no pregnancy this week — but you get the sense that things are going to start to go 'pop pop pop' pretty soon. Take it from someone in the know, they do. They're going to be exploding pretty quickly here!

This week we're going to see that Coach has to continue to try to fend off the ever-present, ever-pressuring Joe McCoy again. I thought maybe it was time to talk a little about the experience of filming FNL.

I had a wild ride in Austin when we shot the show. I was initially expecting to play this character for a few episodes and ride off into the sunset, but lo and behold ... I wound up in every episode this season! That was unexpected, but I loved every minute of it. I enjoy this show and I did even before I was on. In fact, I think the show should go on and on.

The amazing thing about this show — besides what I believe to be one of the strongest casts in television — is how quickly and effortlessly it is shot. I talked a little bit about that in my blog on Dec. 2, 2008, if you'd like to know more. But one of the other aspects of the filming is that you need to be ready to move and move quickly!

Let me give you an example of how the actors are expected to jump onto a moving train. When I arrived in Austin, I was told that the assistant director wanted to talk to me and give me an 'orientation'. I was like, "What, does that mean he wants to warn me about all the Dens of Sin on 6th St. in Austin, and which cast members are grumpy in the morning?"

No sir.....what this particular orientation talk covers is just this.

We expect you to know your lines cold when you arrive on the set.

There will be no rehearsal and you will just start acting pretty much when you get to the set. (Say what?!)

What about all those focus measurements and all those camera moves we need to go over, and all those nuanced moments we want to massage and all that stuff you do in rehearsal so you don't waste the day stumbling all over the place all day long????

Doesn't happen that way on Friday Night lights. On FNL they don't rehearse — and it works!

I don't know if you remember all the way back to Episode 1 of this season, but it's the one where my character gets introduced (Joe McCoy Sr., the 'stud of suds'). There is a scene in that episode where I sort of barge in on Coach and offer him a bottle of Scotch and some Cuban cigars. It's a long scene and I had a lot of talking to do. That was my first day on the job! Imagine stepping into that character with no rehearsals and no set up — just walk in and go!

So needless to say, the nerves were firing, but I was doing OK. Until Kyle Chandler and I are in the middle of that scene and I just lost my place. I couldn't remember where we were at all. So that's when I stopped and said, 'I'm dry....I'm up.' That means I'm up the creek without a paddle. Nothing. And I'm waiting and Kyle is just standing there looking at me with that Coach look and the camera crews are just shooting away and so I say again, 'Hello.... I need a line here. I don't know where I am!!!' So that's when Kyle just looks at me and his face says, 'Welcome to our world, soldier.'

Then I hear this voice from where the director (the wonderful Jeffrey Reiner) was watching the monitors of all three cameras. It booms out something like, 'Just keep talking. You're doing great. Just talk. It'll come to you.'

And it did eventually come back to me. That's still one of my favorite scenes from the whole season!!!

Run and gun, baby. Run and gun. That's the way this show rolls.

I'm telling you, the way this show is produced and shot is the future of the medium. I would bet serious money that in the next 5 years I will be on a few sets that will remind me a lot of FNL. It really just makes sense!

Obviously, there are limitations to a schedule this fast. You can't do dangerous stunts fast. You can't do elaborate lighting set-ups. But that's about it. We use three cameras all the time, sometimes as many as seven when we shoot the football scenes. That way you get lots of coverage each take, but, hey, most TV shows are using two cameras all the time anyway.

I personally love the way our show looks. I like the vitality of the scenes in FNL. You always feel like you could literally walk into the frame and be a part of that reality. It has a very 'real' feel to it....and in the performances as well.

OK, then, that's all she wrote for this blog. Enjoy the episode and let me know what you think!! You can leave your comments at here or at my website, dwmoffett.com.

Thanx for watching!
D.W. Moffett

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Riggins to the Rescue

Feb. 20th, 2009 | 02:41 pm

After last week's chaotic mess that put J.D. McCoy in starter position and made homeowners out of Jason Street and the Riggins boys, what adventure can we get into this week?

J.D. McCoy, boy wonder. Now a starter. Still an uncool freshman. How to fix that? Well, get Mr. Cool himself, Tim Riggins, talked into taking care of young McCoy. As the new freshman QB is being mercilessly razzed by his teammates, only the big man on the team, Mr. Riggins himself, can lend an aura of cool to the hopelessly dorky McCoy. I'm sure you can imagine Riggins does this with dispatch. In fact, he is so successful that young McCoy finds himself in a typical Riggins-type situation — and you can only guess what that does to McCoy's controlling old man, played by me. This is where I get to play some really dirty chops and with it, you can just feel the tension that's run between McCoy and Taylor escalate to an all new level.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Jason Street and the Riggins boys continue their rehabbing of the Buddy Garrity house. Can anyone see this being a smooth process? Really?

Saracen and Julie flirt and flirt and go to the lake — metaphorically speaking, of course! Let me just say that the dialogue-free scene where these two young lovers return from the lake may very well be one of my favorite sequences of the entire season. Amazing acting on both parts.

And of course we have Tyra and the cowboy continue their little dance with the devil. And ladies, let me just say this — when a guy says "I will never lie to you," run for the hills! Trust me on that one.

And watch for some new interests in Landry's life this week. More about that later!

And you know, every week when I watch this show (and I do watch with you) I am just so glad that I'm watching the best show on TV! Aren't you?

As always, enjoy! And tell me what you think here or at TVGuide.com or at dwmoffett.com!

Until next week,
D.W. Moffett

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A New King in the Castle

Feb. 12th, 2009 | 01:12 pm

Hello there all you FNL fans!

"LET THE CORONATION BEGIN.....THERE'S A NEW KING IN THE CASTLE!"

This week's episode has some wonderful story developments for Jason Street, Matt Saracen, and of course, the Taylors.

Instead of going over plot points in these blogs, I'm going to be sharing what I thought really worked as an insider to the show. These are the things that I've found really compelling about this season and specifically, this episode.

One of my favorite parts of this week's episode is this one line by Buddy Garrity. It's easily one of the best lines of the whole season and it's effortlessly and relentlessly repeated by Tim Riggins, much to my delight. I'm sure you'll enjoy it too.

And I have to say right now — you know Tyra Collette is in real trouble when rodeo man takes her to see a new-born foal. What's that look on her face? Uh-oh. Here comes the cliff, baby ... watch out!

Also, this episode brings about one of the very best mother/daughter scenes that I have ever seen on network television. Aimee Teegarden and Connie Britton both make it look so effortless and true to life.

No soap opera here at all. This is realistic writing, acting and directing at its best.

And hey — just as a side note — does anyone else think Kyle Chandler is channeling Gary Cooper from the grave? Some of his looks and mannerisms ... he's too good.

Finally, the last 30 seconds of this episode is just stunning. Nothing is said at all. Yet it summarizes without a single word spoken and in an incredibly wrenching way exactly "where we're at" at this point in the season. Amazing work.

Last but not least, enjoy the episode and share your thoughts with me here at tvguide.com or at dwmoffett.com. I love to hear what you think about what's happening!

Until next week,
D.W. Moffett

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Friday Night Lights

Jan. 28th, 2009 | 02:38 pm

In this Friday's episode of Friday Night Lights (9 pm/ET, NBC), the heat turns up on the coach. Everybody in town seems to want to start young Joe McCoy at quarterback ... except Coach. It doesn't help that this week is the big game with Arnett Mead, one of Dillon's arch rivals.

Katie McCoy, the bubbly and irrepressible wife of Joe McCoy Sr. (yours truly) is introduced in this episode and she gets right into the game. Oh, did I mention that she is played by the bubbly and incomparable Janine Turner? No? OK then, I just did. Mrs. McCoy, you'll find, dives right into life as a Dillon Panther Mom with the passion of a football mom! This causes some strife in a local Dillon custom, when the coach and his wife end up on opposite sides of the "Panther tradition." Watch how many times Kyle Chandler blinks when he and Connie Britton are facing off. I can't count that high!

The young folk are hooking up. Or not, depending on who you're talking about. Riggins and Lila are on again. Or off again? Never can tell with those two. We'll go for 50/50 on which it is this week.

Saracen and Julie make some nice goo-goo eyes at each other, and I'm sitting there making goo-goo eyes at the screen watching them make goo-goo eyes. Why would I do that? I have only one answer:

How adorable is Aimee Teegarden?!

There's a scene in this episode that has Julie so ... so ... well, you'll have to see. It's great.

For those who love the Williams family, there's an amazing scene at the end of this episode that you'll never forget, between Smash and his Mom. Be ready for it. And that's all I'm going to say about that one.

I'll end with this: The threads are starting to weave the big tapestry of the season. There's a lot going on in Dillon these days. It's going to be very interesting to watch it all come together.

Let me know what you think and if you have any questions about the show. Leave your comments here or check out my website at www.dwmoffett.com.

Thanks for watching! See ya next week! Clear eyes ... full heart ... can't lose!

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Friday Night Lights

Aug. 19th, 2008 | 07:26 am

Hello good people,

By now you've probably heard the news that I've been cast on Friday Night Lights and let me tell you...this is a great show that's got a lot going for it. Critics love it. Fans are right up there with the best fans in the world. (That would be Chicago Bears fans in case you weren't aware.) Throw in the fantastic writing, the brilliant cast and the next question is....why the hell aren't you watching this show?

I'm playing the new guy in town. I move to little Dillon Texas from the big city of Dallas just so my son (played by the fantastic Jeremy Sumpter of Peter Pan fame) can play football for the Dillon Panthers. That means I'm wealthy. I love playing the rich guy. And my wife is being played by the beautiful Janine Turner...most of you remember her from the Lifetime show, Strong Medicine.

With that build up, you know I'll be around for a few episodes. That's good. It gives me more of a chance to explore Austin. This is a great town with a lot of personality. Fits the show well.

That's all I have for now. Need to get to the set. But I'll be blogging more so keep watching.

Take care,

D.W.

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The Visioneers....

Jun. 26th, 2008 | 06:44 am

Hello to everyone in internetland. It's been a while, but I haven't gone too far this time. No big trips to other countries - just getting used to life back here in the US again.

There are some things happening these days and they're pretty damned cool if I do say so myself. So let's talk...

I went to Cinevegas for the premiere of "The Visioneers". Met a lot of people. Took some pics. Did some talking about the movie. This one's a good one and buzz is really starting to pick up. We're starting to see it all over the internet and that's FANTASTIC! We even picked up the audience award at Cinevegas! Love that. It means the most important people are enjoying the movie. NICE!

Here's the movie website. Go check it out. Right now. Jeffers insists. http://www.visioneersthemovie.com/visioneers.htm .

I REALLY liked this project. The guys were great and they've got a really creative sense of EVERYTHING. I'm impressed - so of course you should be too. :)

So there it is - latest happenings. There's more going on in the background of course but if I told you I'd have to...well, that's lame so I just won't. But don't take it personally and I will tell you here as soon as I can so keep checking in. I'll do the same.

And hey - love the book recommendations you're sending through the website - keep em coming!

thx,

dw

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Hello 2008 - and America!

Jan. 11th, 2008 | 12:46 pm

Hello good people!! Let me start out 2008 by asking your forgiveness. Please forgive me for not blogging about last weeks’ episode! I was busy moving a family of four back to the good old USA from South Africa and you can only imagine how much stuff you accumulate after 6 months on the southern tip of Africa! You don’t even WANT to know how many boxes of incredible, amazing STUFF we shipped back and you REALLY don’t want to EVER have the jet lag I have today.

Note: To go from Los Angeles to South Africa you are in the airplane for 24
hours. That’s just flying time folks. That doesn’t even count the getting off the plane, changing planes, going through customs and all that other FUN stuff that comes with traveling to the other side and other “hemisphere”.

Anyway, with all that going on I missed my blog-deadline and apologize to all of you who have been following along these last few weeks.

So let me get caught up.

This Sunday’s episode deals with some fairly heavy topics. For one, Katie gets an up close and personal look at an AIDS clinic that specializes in teen cases. This disease is wreaking havoc all over Africa and I was very glad that our producers had the guts to take on what is admittedly a tough topic to portray on network television. I think we deal with it fairly and openly.

In addition, Jesse and Mbali’s relationship takes a more serious turn as Mbali basically shows up and says ‘I need a place to stay, it’s not working out with my fiance’. Ooooppppssss! Glad I never got one of those! Especially since the fiance usually shows up and is not all too happy that his girlfriend is staying at YOUR PLACE. Needless to say some fireworks ensue.

As for yours truly, the good doctor is trying to get his giraffes to mate so we can have more animals on the farm. And what’s wrong with that??? Oh and an inspector is showing up to certify our lodge as “green” or not and it is driving my wife to a new form of madness!!! Watch Stephanie Niznik spin out as the pressure builds for her to have the “perfect” lodge....she’s great.

That’s it for Sunday....enjoy the show.

DW

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