Fans of “Friday Night Lights” got Texas heat, Texas stars and a big dose of Texas love with the ATX Television Festival’s tailgate party, pep rally and screening of the show. The event, which was open to non-badgeholders of the festival, attracted stars of the show Connie Britton, Adrianne Palicki, Scott Porter, Gaius Charles, Jesse Plemmons, Brad Leland and many others, who all took to the stage together escorted by Del Valle high school football players for a brief Q&A before a screening of one of the show’s best episodes.
“We really knew we couldn’t ask them to come every year of the festival,” said festival co-founder Emily Gipson on stage. “Five years they’ve been doing this, five years since the show ended, 10 years since the show started, let’s just blow this out.”
Want to see photos from the Tailgate party? Find our A-list photo gallery here.
The organizers chose Del Valle field, which was unused and overgrown, and transformed it into Panther Field for the event, which included a tour through the field house (gotta tap that Panthers P for good luck!), food trucks, selfies with some cast members and a screening of “The Son,” the wrenching, Emmy-nominated fifth-season episode about QB1 Matt Saracen coming to grips with very bad news about his dad.
On stage, cast members were asked a few questions about what props they took home when the show ended (Britton took a Tami Taylor parking marker home and still uses it at her house, she revealed) and what cast member/character they each have a crush on. Some answers were disturbing (not cool to say “Lyla Garrity,” Brad Leland!), but the vote was overwhelmingly for Britton, whose subsequent show “Nashville” has just escaped cancellation and will continue on CMT with the actress. A few of the lead actors missing from the event included Kyle Chandler, Michael B. Jordan, Minka Kelly and Taylor Kitsch, but the show’s deep bench of characters filled out the stage, drawing huge cheers for actors including Louanne Stephens, who played Grandma Saracen; she also got into the act dancing on stage during a music set by Crucifictorious. That was led by a bearded Plemmons, who has gone on star in acclaimed shows including “Breaking Bad” and “Fargo.” He acquitted himself well through several songs and in their closer, “She Don’t Use Jelly” by The Flaming Lips.
The TV Fest continues through the weekend with “West Wing” and “Ugly Betty” reunions on the schedule for Saturday.
Some previous coverage:
“Statesman Shots” with guest Taylor Kitsch.