Bridget Carpenter, Part TwoComplications Ensue
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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Bridget Carpenter is a writer-producer on NBC's FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, the best show on broadcast TV. This is part two of my interview with her.

Crafty TV: How much of the writing staff has spent time in a small football- crazy town?

Bridget Carpenter: We have three writers who played football seriously in high school and/or college, and another writer/producer from Texas. The rest of us range from rabid football fans to "how the hell to you say that in football-ese?"

Crafty TV: If you've lived in a city all your life, how do you write FNL?

Bridget Carpenter: Well, that would be me. And at least half the staff. I guess the most honest answer is we make it up.

Crafty TV: Is there a bible? What sort of issues are addressed in it? What sort of things aren't in the bible that you need to know to write the show? Also, I'm assuming the answer is no, but my readers keep asking: if an agented writer is speccing the show, can the agent ask for a copy of the bible?

Bridget Carpenter: There's no bible.

Crafty TV: How far ahead are you plotting? How many scripts were written before the pilot was picked up? After the show was picked up, how far did you guys plan out the individual episodes before you started writing them?

Bridget Carpenter: We are pretty far ahead. As I write this they're shooting episode 115, and in the room we're breaking the final episode of the season. This is the most speedy and efficient (and, I have to repeat, awesome) group of writers I've ever worked with.

No other scripts were written until the pilot was picked up. Once we were picked up and all staffed up, as a room, we beat out five episodes together, one after another, before anyone went off and started outlining and then writing any of those five. That was pretty great, because it helped us move fast, get a sense of the world, and created a real momentum to events from episode to episode.

Crafty TV: You're nowhere near having this problem, if first season takes you to the championship, which I'd bet money it does, how do you do a second season? Is it enough to just have another season of football?

Bridget Carpenter: We plan to loosely follow the year. So next year's season would take place sometime as the new school year/football season begins. I think as you write the question, no, it would not be enough to have just another season of football. But there will be new players (JV moving up to Varsity), new characters, new alliances--and all that, we hope, would create more depth and new tensions & excitement as we get into another football season. Remeber that in the movie FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, once Boobie Miles was injured, another player emerged to take his place and that opened up a whole new dynamic, which was painful and exciting to watch.

Crafty TV: Do the writing staff ever discuss second season, even idly? Or is that jinxing it?

Bridget Carpenter: Oh my god, of course we do. And if it's jinxing it, we're f****d. Because we definitely talk about it. A lot.

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